Early last month, AOL launched a new web series titled Acting Disruptive hosted and co-created by Max Lugavere. The series follows businesses and passion projects of some of the top celebrities in Hollywood.
The series is backed by Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Digital Studios and sponsored by Citi. Some notable projects they’ve featured include Jessica Alba’s Honest Company, Rainn Wilson’s SoulPankcake, and Jared Leto’s VyRT. The show has been a hit racking up more than 14 million views in just over a month, this makes the show one of AOL’s most successful launches to date.
We recently had the chance to catch up with co-creator Max Lugavere via email. Here, we talk about how he came up with the idea of Active Disruptive, the most memorable lesson he’s learned on the show, and his thoughts on the LA startup scene.
Tell us a little bit about your background in all this
I’m a huge science and innovation junkie but have found that the narrative around these topics isn’t always, shall we say, inclusive. As a content creator, I’ve always been incredibly inspired by things like TED and how they use fantastic art direction to mainline cosmic-sized ideas into the zeitgeist, or Symphony of Science which uses melody to hook people who wouldn’t otherwise spend 4 minutes on a video about quantum physics. For Acting Disruptive, Tribeca Digital Studios and I teamed up to create something truly unique that discusses entrepreneurship and disruptive innovation by featuring some of the worlds favorite storytellers, with the cinematic vibe of a U2 biopic.
Where did you first come up with the idea of the show?
I saw a pattern emerge in Hollywood where entertainers were investing heavily in technology. It’s an interesting intersection which I thought was worth exploring, and around that time was when Tribeca approached me about doing some content with them. Entrepreneurship is something that many people my age are interested in. 60 percent of millennials are turning their backs on the traditional route and bucking the status quo. I wanted to do a series that not only speaks to them, but also others that perhaps will just tune in because of our guests, and inspire them to pursue their own entrepreneurial visions.
What is one quality that all the entrepreneurs you’ve interviewed had in common?
Passion. Whether I was talking to Jessica Alba about her passion for making affordable, eco-friendly, design-friendly, health-conscious products or Adrian Grenier about the farm-to-table movement, or Jared Leto about his band’s concert streaming platform, VyRT, the passion was palpable in every single case. All of our guests have been really psyched to get to geek out in a way that they rarely get to, all about their own projects. It’s been a blast to see.
What do you want young aspiring entrepreneurs to take away from watching your series?
I think the most important thing that any aspiring entrepreneur should keep in mind is that success is rarely linear. It’s important to learn from mistakes and failure. Of course, no one wants to fail, we all want to take on moonshot projects and succeed every time, but that’s not how success works. The key is to fail and get back up without loss of enthusiasm, as Winston Churchill famously said.
What was the most important lesson you’ve learned from Acting Disruptive and from whom?
I liked hanging with Olivia Wilde at RYOT, who echoes my own feelings about the power of narrative and technology to change the world. We’re living in an amazing time where a single dissenting voice can become a tsunami overnight thanks to social media. Today there’s no excuse for apathy. This isn’t a first-world luxury either. In his book “Abundance,” Peter Diamandis calls the poorest people on Earth—those currently living below the extreme poverty line—the “rising billion”. Rising, because now thanks to the exponential spread of communication and information technologies (like the smart phone), they are coming online for the very first time. Their voices, muted until now, are suddenly joining the global conversation.
Give us your thoughts on this trend of more startups launching in Los Angeles.
LA is a town with huge imagination capital. It’s a hotbed of good ideas. Hollywood also has a vested interest in sculpting the future of content distribution, because technology has been so disruptive to the business models that have sustained it for so long. Tech companies on the other hand are realizing, as are most brands, that content and story is the best way to get your message across, and LA has some of the best story makers in the world. It’s a perfect marriage.
How is LA startup culture different compared to more prominent startup places like Silicon Valley?
I think LA is definitely worth considering as the home for your startup for not only the reasons mentioned above, but it’s less expensive and the quality of life is better by most accounts, so from a purely Maslovian standpoint, why not be comfortable while you’re at it?
Care to tease the next person you’ll be profiling on future episodes of ‘Acting Disruptive’?
This week we’re featuring Moby, and next week Russell Simmons, who just launched Narrative. He’s a badass.
Follow Max Lugavere
Website: Acting Distruptive