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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Bourbon

Not Famous But Still Successful

What is success in Hollywood?

Is it being Tom Cruise? Or Margot Robbie? Do you need to be Taylor Swift to be a success?

My opinion? Absolutely not.


What is the definition of a successful person in the real world?


For the purpose of this blog, the real world refers to anything outside of the entertainment industry.


Okay, so you go to grade school, middle school, high school, and maybe college, and then you get a job. BOOM-you are successful as long as you hold that job or one like it and pay your bills, rent, or mortgage, and that's it.


In Hollywood, the double standards are double, triple, and quadruple standards that the rest of the world doesn't hold up.


Here is an example. I know a successful person who has worked in Hollywood since 1994, without a waitressing job or anything outside of the industry for money except for three months at Trader Joe's between gigs, and even there, she worked as an artist. This person has been told by family over and over and over and over things like, "Someday you'll make it" and "Get a real job." But then when a film she's worked on suddenly comes out, it's "You're so talented." SIGH.


If you haven't figured it out, that's me. It's not just me this happens to, it's all of my creative friends, whether in entertainment or even artists. It's a thing, especially parents. "Why can't you get a real job and be like your brothers?" to "I knew you were talented, I always knew it!" in seconds. It can give a person whiplash.


I know my family never meant those words to be so hurtful, and I love them all for their concern over my "not making it" (*sarcasm) in the industry that has paid all my bills for three decades. Honestly, they don't get it. Let's say that for the rest of this blog that people in the real world will never get it.


But, let me tell you this--it's a REAL JOB. The hours are crazy, we work, nights, weekends, holidays, repeat, repeat, and then a break, then it starts again. What's a five-o-clock happy hour? That thing we did in college for a while, but now, that's the middle of the day. Please don't ever say it's not a real job.


What is SUCCESS? After all, this blog is about defining success.


I think if someone works and pays all their bills, they are successful, whether famous or not. Right?


WRONG--this is Hollywood, and "you must be famous"!!! SIGH--this isn't true, of course, but especially newbies, as we call them, think that it is.


This past year, I put together a group of writers who were all at earlier stages of writing but still a decent group with whom I had been in workshops over the last year. Well, more than once, they said things like, "We feel like we don't have a chance if you have been in the industry so long and not made it." WTF??? Right? Um, I have made it; I'm just not famous.


Which is fine; I have seen fame destroy people faster than drugs, grief, or anything. It's a monster you can't truly understand until you have witnessed it face to face.


This isn't a blog about them and their newbie childish behavior but really about the way that people who aren't in this industry see us. It's a weird thing.


Honestly, answer this right now. Without googling it, can you tell me who the writers (plural) off the top of your head wrote the last episode of your favorite show? Or your favorite movies? All of the writers? Story consultants? Script doctors? Etc. Did you see Inside Out 2? Can you tell me the names of all the animators? Storyboard artists?

Never mind ALL THE BELOW THE LINE crew on every movie?


My point is that you should never consider someone not successful because you haven't heard of them.


In the film industry, having studio credits, being published, working in many areas, etc, gets me respect (for the most part, unless people want to talk down to me since I look so much younger than I am and they assume--again that fame thing, "I haven't heard of you so you must be a nobody."). It's outside, that is weird.


It's just Hollywood. Or not even Hollywood as we all get it but outside of Hollywood, the way people look into our bubble.


I have hundreds of friends and colleagues who are very successful in the film industry, on Broadway, and in publishing but who are not famous.


Now, this may be controversial, but to me, if you are writing and you are finishing and submitting scripts, you are already a success in many ways. The sale and production of a script is another level but you are successful in that you are getting it done. You may not be a professional yet, but you are a success.


If you are getting paid to work in the industry? Even better.


Don't ever let anyone tell you that you aren't or can't be a success. Others should never define our worth, especially when they don't even understand the industry.


If you are a professional in the industry and your family gives you a hard time, smile and say, "Okay."


If you are brand new, please don't judge others because you haven't heard of them. And this is important. BE NICE and GRACIOUS to everyone you meet. There is no right way to break in, stay in, make money, get produced, get staffed, or get an agent/manager. If someone gives you advice and you hear somewhere something different from someone else, that's fine too. It's all just our collective opinions after being in this industry for a million years. We all got in and had different experiences. We share to help, but none of it; nothing anyone that anyone says is the only way.


The industry is small. They may not understand us outside of it but in here, we get it. We know how hard we work, why we strike, and what different parts of the jobs we do all the time.


I hope you will continue YOUR SUCCESS in any way you define it. No one can tell you what success it. To this writer? You are already a success.


XO Steph


Follow me on social @stephobourbon








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