Making career changes in the entertainment industry: What does it take to achieve success?
By Michelle Liew
“Everyone is a genius but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Albert Einstein
This little quote from the scientific genius of all time stemmed a little thinking about the wisdom and consequent success or failure of making career moves. Those who follow the ins and outs of the entertainment industry will know that Hollywood and other entertainment arenas sometimes breed crossovers.
What exactly do I refer to? Our favorite actors and actresses becoming musicians, and the reverse switch!
For the purposes of this article on the field of entertainment, this writer will discuss the risks and benefits involved in making crossover career switches or extensions in the entertainment industry. This article will also broach the subject of the ingredients necessary for a successful career move in entertainment, and highlight some famous entertainment crossover personalities.
The benefits of making a career change in the entertainment industry
Those who have made changes to their career paths will know that these always bring with them their pros and cons. For better or worse, they will have to accept the consequences of the decisions that have been made. Nevertheless, there are some advantages for those who have made career moves.
The development of versatility and well-roundedness
Musicians turned actors and those who have also made successful career moves the other way have turned out to be well-rounded entertainers who can come up with versatile, well-rounded performances. So have those who have added entertainment skills to their bucket list.
A good example of such a persona is the rapper turned actor Will Smith, who I shall discuss more of in the course of this write. The successful hip hop rapper has successfully bridged his music career with roads made into acting.
It helps to boost a celebrity’s reputation.
If the changes made are successful for the celebrity,his reputation can experience a great, positive boost. Smith’s Men In Black Trilogy is as successful as the number of rap numbers which have scored well on the Billboard Charts.
Consequently, he has become a great example of a well-balanced entertainment persona.
It helps an entertainer to accrue a bigger fan base.
Entertainers who have made successful changes to their careers face the all-too-wanted consequence of having a larger number of fans.
Smith, who has won American Music and Grammy Awards for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Men in Black and Summertime, has also extended his comedic versatility with a serious performances in I Am Legend, which won him a Saturn award. Undoubtedly, it has secured him a bigger fan base.
It brings the entertainer out of his comfort zone.
Trying to attempt a crossover or extension with one’s career, for anyone, brings him out of his comfort zone by allowing him to develop new skills or talents.
So it is with entertainers. The well-rounded Barbra Streisand has, over the course of her career, is the first female artist to have the widest span of Billboard Number Ones over 48 years. She has also won Academy Awards for well displayed acting skills in Funny Girl.
The entertainer is more sustainable in the industry.
Streisand is proof that actors or actresses who make successful changes to their careers and craft new skills are sustainable within the industry. Not only a consummate actress, the singer of perfect pitch (she is able to sing a note on the piano in its exact tone) has spanned a recording career of nearly 50 years.
And the risks of making career moves in the entertainment industry are.....
There are as many entertainers who have made misses with crossovers within the industry as there are who have scored hits, highlighting the risks of making career moves. What risks did these actors or actresses not consider which proved to mar their success?
Misses can sour reputation.
For some actors and actresses, trying to cross over to another arena of entertainment has proven to be less successful. Singers turned Actresses like Britney Spears can attest to this with mixed reviews for her performance in How I Met Your Mother.
A loss of fan base
The wrong career move for entertainers can mean a loss of friends or fans. Singers like Spears apart from her somewhat eccentric behavior, might have lost a number of fans as a result of a questionable move into acting. Other singers who are not such consummate actors-and the other way around-have also suffered such losses due in large part to a wrong career move.
Dampening of image
Some high profile entertainers who have made career switches have found their images dampened as a result. Actor David Bowie, as Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth, was criticized by List Inconsequential reviewers for turning in a “cornball performance as one of the least menacing villains of all time.” Bowie, another actor noted for singing rather than acting, apparently made a mistaken career move.
A career move can destroy sustainability
Mistaken career moves can destroy career sustainability together with the entertainer’s image. These entertainers sometimes find fewer producers or directors seeking them out as a result.
Risk of time and investment
A risky career move with an unsuccessful outcome means a waste of time and investment of money, as the entertainers who have experienced this will attest.
Questions to be asked when making a change in career
The hits and misses of many of these actors and actresses prompt one to ask a few questions when considering a change in career. Applicable not only these celebrities, anyone considering a career move would do well to ask themselves these very important questions.
Is it the right fit?
Successful musicians turned actors have done because they asked themselves if they had the necessary dramatic or interpersonal skills to be good actors. So it is with all of us - before considering a career change, considering if it is a good fit is an important but sometimes forgotten factor that contributes to success.
Am I acting out of impulse?
Like any of us, these celebrities make, or have made, career moves out of dissatisfaction with the present situation or the need to do something new and different. Acting out of emotional need can of course mean unwanted consequences.
Do I have the passion?
Successful career crossovers in the entertainment industry clearly showed that they had the passion for the other aspect of the career that they switched to. Streisand has been successful largely because of her commitment to both singing and acting-and has clear talent for both.
Do I have the courage to make the move?
Making any changes professionally takes a lot of courage, whether it is for these entertainers or for ourselves. It takes the bravery needed to come out of the comfort zone.
When is the correct time to make a career move?
Actors who have made successful career moves, like Smith, can attest to making these moves at the height of their careers.
Like them, when we consider a career move, timing is of the essence - we do not want to introduce too much variety to our careers at the wrong time.
Will Smith Wild Wild West
By far one of the most successful crossover artists, or artists who have added other dimensions to their careers, Smith helped to usher in the musical development of Hip Hop in the late 1980s and 1990s. As already mentioned, he has scored massive musical successes with raps like “Summertime” and shown his acting chops in such shows as Bad Boys, playing a young con artist. His more recent success comes with comedic performances in Men In Black, playing opposite the illustrious Tommy Lee Jones.
Cher Shoop Shoop Song
Another lasting icon like Streisand, Cher has scored massive hits with her then husband, Sonny. A massive hit of hers that still keeps everyone singing is the Shoop Shoop Song - In His Kiss.
Cinematically, Cher has scored hits such as Burlesque and attained a Golden Globe Nomination for 1982’s “Come Back To The Five and Dime.”
Mark Wahlberg feat Jan Van Der Toom
Sometimes the subject of ‘Marky Mark” jokes, the consummate rapper has turned A list Actor with films like Martin Scorsese’s The Departed and Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights, where he played loser turned porn star Dirk Diggler. He expanded his repertoire successfully to include comedy in I Heart Huckabees, action in The Perfect Storm and Drama in The Fighter.
Frank Sinatra Strangers in the Night
Arguably one of the best known of artists who have developed added dimensions to their careers, Ol’ Blue Eyes of the evergreen My Way fame won an oscar nomination for The Man With The Golden Arm and his only Academy Award for a supporting role in From Here To Eternity.
Barbra Streisand/Bryan Adams I've Finally Found Someone
The multi-talented film maker, producer, actress and singer won an Academy Award for her performance in 1968’s Funny Girl. Her successful career extends to this day with the Focker’s series. She is one of the few entertainers turned directors who has picked up nominations for films she directed, such as Prince of Tides.
Bob Dylan Like a Rolling Stone
The less or moderately successful artists who have made career moves
Just as there are successful artists who have made career moves, there are those who have made near disastrous misses.
Dylan received mixed reviews for his performances in films like Pat Garrett and Billy the Kidd, which was criticized for his rather confused mumbling. He also received less positive reviews for his performances in films like Masked Anonymous.
Beyonce/Destiny's Child Emotion
The singer turned actress received mixed reviews for her role as Foxy Cleopatra in the third Austin Powers film, leading to questions about whether the transition from singing to acting was the correct one.
David Bowie Let's Dance
As mentioned earlier, Bowie did not exactly receive rave reviews for his performance as Jareth in Labyrinth. Some felt that there was more emphasis on the package than the acting.
Nonetheless, his contributions to the music industry cannot be questioned.
Mariah Carey Hero
Many saw her film debut, Glitter as laughable. But she scored moderate success in the 2009 film Precious, with her watered down image as a sensitive social worker.
Jennifer Lopez/Richard Gere Shall We Dance
With a more successful musical career, her films like Gigli and Jersey made some of the Worst Lists. However, her performance opposite Richard Gere in We Can Dance was credible.
Like them or leave them, whether an artist makes a successful crossover is best left to the viewer or listener to judge. Do leave your opinions about artists who have made career moves in the comments below!
Original Work by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin
All Rights Reserved
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