Industry pros reveal why and how they changed careers
News flash: Most aspiring actors never make it. Agents burn out. Lawyers get bored. Studio heads step down. Sooner or later, and for whatever reason, many industry pros hit a brick wall in their line of work. So where do they go without getting out of the business entirely? And how do they switch gears without sacrificing years of experience? Here are six who show us how it’s done — and why.
Old career: For 10 years worked as an actor in small TV roles and ads in English and Spanish.
New career: A manager, co-owner of Link Talent Group.
Why change? Laid up for two months with a broken leg in 2001, Andres realized that “what I was doing as an actor, focusing on my needs, doesn’t give me as much satisfaction as helping other actors achieve their goals.”
How he did it: Andres was already well connected through The Actors Network, a networking organization in which he’d been a partner since 1996. So when he made the switch to manager, he says, “I hit the ground running, dealing with actors, agents, managers and the like.”
DAYNA KALINS BOCHCO
Old career: Started as contracts attorney for ABC; head of Business Affairs for Fox Television Studios by 1980.
New career: A television development exec at Fox. Now runs Steven Bochco Prods.
Why change? As a business exec, “you just do the same thing over and over again,” she says. “How many deals for writers can you make? It just wasn’t that varied.”
How she did it: Went to Fox prexy Harris Katleman and requested a switch to creative. Making the transition without leaving the company was very helpful, she says, “because the people respected me at least as an intelligent person.” Her background in law helped connect her to Steven Bochco’s “L.A. Law” — and her future husband.
Old career: A filmmaker in Greece, an NYU grad film student, then a magazine art director.
New career: Owns and runs T.K. Theaters, designing elaborate movie palace-style home theaters. Clients include Eddie Murphy and The Rock.
Why change? Abandoned filmmaking after viewing his “absolutely horrendous” NYU thesis film. Built his own private theater in 1986, attracting press and people wanting their own version. Boss Malcolm Forbes told him he’d be a fool to pass up the opportunity to pursue it fulltime.
How he did it: Stayed at art director job for a year, designing theaters on his own time. “I only left my job when I was absolutely secure that the orders for theaters were not going to dry up.”
Old career: Development exec at Davis Entertainment.
New career: Screenwriter, sold two screenplays and a pilot before script for “Monster-In-Law” was produced.
Why change? Realized that “a lot of times the ideas we sold (were ones) I would give to writers. I was better with the stories, the structure and all that stuff than all the other development things that I did.”
How she did it: Sold first script in 2000 under a pseudonym, telling her agent it was something she was developing with “some crackpot that lived back east.” “All I really wanted was a fair read.”
Old career: Film critic for Los Angeles magazine and KABC radio.
New career: Writer-director, “The Contender,” “The Last Castle.” Created ABC’s “Commander-in-Chief.”
Why change? “I didn’t think I was very good at what I did (as a critic). I thought I was a very entertaining writer, but I didn’t think I was very profound.”
How he did it: Made a short film that won plaudits on fest circuit. First feature, 1998 indie “Deterrence,” starred poker buddy Kevin Pollack. But CAA banned him from the building due to pans of clients’ films. He says, “I was so green, I didn’t even know when to yell ‘action!'”
Old career: Head of finance at Disney.
New career: Exec VP at Sony Pictures Animation, which she helped found in 2002.
Why change? “I didn’t want to be corporate any longer,” she says. “I didn’t really care about where I stood on the totem pole. I just wanted to be challenged and creative and work with some of the tremendous talent in the film industry.”
How she did it: Partnered with pals Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer (she’d been a Paramount production accountant on “Flashdance”) to exec produce “Dangerous Minds.” Jumped from Disney to DreamWorks, exec producing “Antz” and “Shrek.” She says her finance and producing experience “has allowed me to build animation companies.”