Spotlight On Stars: Jennifer Levinson and Steven Kanter

Thoughts on How to Find Success in Entertainment

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Daley, Jesse. "Spotlight On Stars: Jennifer Levinson and Steven Kanter." ThoughtCo, Feb. 4, 2017, thoughtco.com/spotlight-jennifer-levinson-and-steven-kanter-16398. Daley, Jesse. (2017, February 4). Spotlight On Stars: Jennifer Levinson and Steven Kanter. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/spotlight-jennifer-levinson-and-steven-kanter-16398 Daley, Jesse. "Spotlight On Stars: Jennifer Levinson and Steven Kanter." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/spotlight-jennifer-levinson-and-steven-kanter-16398 (accessed September 25, 2017).
Director/Writer/Editor Steven Kanter and Actress Jennifer Levinson.

Lots of factors come into play in order to “make it” in Hollywood and in the entertainment business.  Among these factors:  you must be prepared to work extremely hard, be self-motivated, and create a path of success by showcasing your individual talents.  Most importantly, you can never give up.  

Jennifer Levinson and Steven Kanter are two examples of talented and kind individuals who are turning their dreams into their reality in entertainment.

 They work very hard, they are creating their own content and they are sharing their wonderful talents with the world.  One way in which they are accomplishing this is through the power of social media, which you’ll read about below. They are well on their way to seeing lots of success in Hollywood, and I am confident that the advice they share about the entertainment industry and social media involvement will be helpful to anyone considering a career in entertainment.

Who are Jen and Steve?

Actress Jennifer Levinson, originally from Los Angeles, and filmmaker Steven Kanter, from Southeast Michigan, met several years ago while attending Chapman University.  They have been dating since they met in college, and they share similar interests in entertainment. Steven explains, “I currently work in online, digital content production – which is - in much more understandable terms - filmmaking for the internet.  In my current role, I generally write, produce, direct, shoot and edit the projects I work on.”  Steven explains that since he was young, he has been interested in filmmaking. “I’ve loved stories, characters and the spectacle of this visual art form.  When I learned that this is in fact a career and not just for fun, I was hooked.”

Jen has a passion for acting, and she also works as a social media strategist.  She explains, “I always loved acting as a hobby— up until high school.  I never realized how ingrained in my life this passion was (over half of each day was spent in rehearsals and/or theatre-related classes, the other half in general education.)  “I took an acting intensive at UCLA, and my instructor said ‘If you can imagine yourself doing something other than acting, then get out of my room!’  That phrase hit me hard in college, when I realized that my passion needed to be my career, and then I gave myself no other option.  I pursued a bachelor of arts in theatre and took every possible on-set production opportunity or film-related internship I could get my hands on.

”  (It is crucial to go after every opportunity possible!  Click here to read about singer/actress Pixie Lott’s advice on this topic about how she found success by going after all opportunities.)

Social Media and Acting/Entertainment

I first met Jennifer Levinson and Steven Kanter through the wonderful world of social media! Jennifer sent me a tweet with the link to her web series which was filmed, produced and edited by Steven.  I was extremely impressed, and a friendship has since developed!  In fact, I have worked with them and collaborated on several of their projects!  I asked Jen and Steve if they would share their thoughts about the importance of utilizing social media in order to help further a career in entertainment.  Steven explained, “I’m amazed that there are people who still don’t believe in the power and necessity of social media.  We are living in an unprecedented time where content creators can create a product at low cost, put it out there into the world, grow a fan base, interact, learn, evolve, and catapult their careers in entertainment – completely outside of the studios.  The benefits are numerous.  You can understand your audience by interacting via social media.  You can get your work seen.  You can discover other artists and collaborators.  You can grow a fan base.  Whether you’re an on-screen persona or behind-the-camera visionary, social media is not just a tool for growth in entertainment, it’s a necessary outlet.”

Jen adds, “I’m amazed by social media.  I’m still processing the benefits it’s had on me, but to say they are vast is a grand understatement.  Steve and I began creating content on our channel, NeverEverLand Studios, and I wanted that content to be seen.  So I was relentless on social media, reaching out to bloggers, actors, casting directors - anyone who might watch.  And though it took some time, I obtained representation through my self-produced content and caught the eye of FunnyOrDie, who featured several of our videos on their personal YouTube page and gave us “Community Member” status on their platform.”

Recently, Steven and Jen have become very well-known in the social media world!  A video of the two of them went viral, and it has allowed both of them to reach a much larger audience in order to share their work!

 Steven explains, “The sleeptalk video is a great example of social media working at its best:  a large online network (BuzzFeed) with devoted fan-base, a highly relatable/clickable/sharable story and a platform where viewers can start a discussion about their own personal lives/experiences.”

Jen adds, “Since Buzzfeed released the sleeptalk video, I’m engaging with an audience that spreads from California to Australia to Dubai and beyond.  And it’s incredible to see how interactive this audience is.  I went from barely using Snapchat to now having 40K+ followers and 10k+ on Instagram (@jenhearts247).”

Get Involved with Social Media!  

I recently published an interview with a management company that works with men and women who are successful on YouTube and the internet.  (Click here to read that interview.)  Steven and Jen offer advice for men and women who are interested in utilizing social media to further their careers in entertainment.  Steven explains, “Love your craft first.  If you want to be a filmmaker, watch and love as many movies/TV shows, etc. that you can.  If you’re an actor, act.  Learn to write.  Write yourself your dream role.  For anyone: START MAKING CONTENT.  Everyone has a camera, everyone has an internet connection.”

Jen adds, “Give yourself control.  We’re so lucky to live in this digital age in which content is readily available at any given moment.  If you want to be an actor, give yourself a brand:  what’s your essence and how do you want to be perceived?  Create social media profiles, engage with casting directors, directors, producers, and other actors, and create your own content.  This is your greatest asset.  You have a unique voice; use it!”

Challenges - and Overcoming Them

Working as an actor and in any area of entertainment requires a tremendous amount of work. Steven and Jen offer their words of wisdom regarding not giving up, and always moving forward.  

When asked about a challenge that he has faced, Steven replied, “Self-doubt.  There’s no getting around it: the entertainment industry is built on a foundation of competition, of failure – of disappointment.  You think you nailed the audition, but they don’t pick you.  You underestimate the money needed to fund your film.  You see your peers succeeding in areas similar to your own, and you can’t help but feel jealous.  The trick is to accept that this is a violate industry, and you can’t control any of it – except for yourself.  I’ve found myself worrying about what other people are doing or not doing, and it literally achieves nothing.  Instead, channel that energy inward, focus on the simple idea of progressing as an individual.  Then the rest will follow.”  

Jen explained a challenge of her own:  “Fear of failure.  I’m grateful to have a part- time job that clears my head a bit and refocuses my attention.  Otherwise, I imagine myself sitting at home, wondering why I don’t have an audition today or overanalyzing every aspect of an audition that I may have had.  It’s easy to get stuck in your head and embrace a pessimistic outlook on this industry, or view each audition as the end-all-be-all.  But pessimism isn’t a cast-able quality.  And once you embrace a more optimistic outlook, and re-evaluate your definition of success to include creating your own content, just getting the audition (regardless of whether you get a callback or get cast is a victory).  Simply by taking the leap and enrolling in an acting class, greater success will manifest.”

Goals

When I asked about career goals, Jen replied, “I want to continue creating powerful, engaging digital content and expand my audience even farther.  Additionally, I would love to book some more commercials, an indie feature, and a sitcom.”  

Steven responded, “A few of my goals include:  selling a feature script, directing a feature, building a strong list of commercial/music video credits as director, having a multitude of original online content that both entertains and enlightens – while pushing digital content further.”

Jen and Steven have big dreams, and they are reaching them one day at a time by working hard, sharing kindness and not giving up.  I am honored to know them, and I can’t wait to see where they go in their careers.  I predict that they’ll be Hollywood’s next power couple!  Thank you for inspiring so many of us, Jen and Steve!  (Click here to follow Jennifer and Steven's YouTube Channel!)