Entertainment Business Alumni Shares Advice on Going From Graduate to Business Owner

Entertainment Business Management Alumni, Michael Cotton Stapleton, has been doing some big things since graduating! He kindly agreed to have a chat with us to reflect on his time at JMC and how it drove him to make the decision of opening his own successful Acting Agency: MCSM!

"I truly did not think it was possible to find a job that I loved, but it is. And it’s done through making a clear choice of what you want and pursuing it with as much courage and energy that you can summon"

Why did you want to get into Entertainment Business?

I began my journey in the Entertainment Business in early 2000’s when I graduated from Drama School. I was an Actor for about 6 years but it wasn’t for me. I did, however, love the film industry and knew I had to find a place for myself within it. I had always thought I would be well suited to being an Actors Agent but didn’t know how to get my foot in the door. After knocking on MANY doors, I realized that I must find another way in – I came across an advert for JMC and thought a formal education would be the smartest way to go about it.

Tell us what you’ve been up to since graduating?

I opened my own Acting Agency – MCSM! It has been ‘live’ now for just over 1 year and I currently have 50 professional actors on my books.

Tell us a bit about MCSM and some of the people you have worked with?

MCSM is a boutique theatrical agency representing exceptionally talents Actors across film, television and theatre. The office is located within Cobbstar Studios in Paddington – an interconnected entertainment hub housing production companies, music producers, VR producers and film education programs. And of course, MCSM. My business has grown exponentially over the last 12 months and I will be heading to LA in October to meet with managers, casting agents and producers over there to continue the growth and success of both MCSM and my Actors.

Just some of the shows that my Actors have been booked on are:

TV Series:

Doctor Doctor, Harrow, Rake, True Story – Hamish & Andy, Secret City 2, The Letdown, Chosen Patricia Moore and Deadly Women. 

Commercials (just to name a few):

Hyundai, KFC, Vodafone, Westpac, Citibank, McDonalds, Tic Tac, Telstra, Suncorp, Uber Eats and Coca Cola. 

What were the main factors that contributed to you wanting to start your own business?

Autonomy and creative license. Having ‘worked for the man’ for many years, I really wanted the freedom (and stress!) that comes with working for myself. It is by far the best decision I have ever made.  

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned since opening MCSM?

You can’t fast track business relationships – they take time, consistency and respect. Be authentically passionate about what you do. You simply won’t stand the test of time and invariable hardships if you don’t love it and believe in it.

Don’t burn bridges. Leave every situation with grace and respect.

Operate with integrity. Word of mouth is the most wonderful tool for acquiring new, quality business.

Do your homework on competitors. They are your best tool for learning what to do and what not to do.

Adhere to industry standards. There will always be governing bodies that define regulations around operation in your chosen field. Know them back to front as many small business operators have crumbled due to an oversight in this very simple but highly important area.

What were your favourite things about JMC?

The culture. Incredibly supportive and fun. The lecturers also. Often, they are active players in the industry and have knowledge that is far more valuable than any text book.

How do you feel your time at JMC prepared you for the industry?

The most valuable gift was teaching me how to think for myself and trust my instinct. While the content of every class is valuable, it was the assignments and the freedom to investigate topics that were of interest to me that taught me how to trust my direction. Also, learning how to research. Such an imperative tool that will serve you in every area of your life, especially when it comes to creating a business.

What advice would you give to current students?

Remaining open to possibilities when you enter JMC is fine. In fact, I encourage it. The course may guide you in a direction you hadn’t considered but by the beginning of 5th Trimester you should really have locked down your exit strategy. Will I open my own business? What area of the industry will I try to insert myself in to? How will I go about it? By the time you are wrapping up your final round of assignments in the 6th Trimester you should know exactly where you are going after that. It is common for students to remain ‘open’ for too long and this will invariably lead to you having to take whatever job you come across that vaguely resembles a job that you might like. Is that why you slaved away for 2 years? To just get a job? Or do you want to create a dream job where you look forward to going to work every day? I truly did not think it was possible to find a job that I loved but it is. And it’s done through making a clear choice of what you want and pursuing it with as much courage and energy that you can summon. Also...start your assignments on day 1. I didn’t learn this valuable lesson until 6th Tri and looking back my life would have been soooo much easier if I had just started from day dot.

Ok, preach over! x

To check out the MCSM web page, click here.

To learn more about studying Entertainment Business Management, click here.