Make Your Own Break was founded by Award-Winning Writer/Performer and Producer Jennifer Lieberman to help writers and performers realize their creative goals by providing the tools to learn how to produce independent productions with little to no resources. After years of pounding the pavement and knocking on doors with no success in breaking into the entertainment industry, Jennifer decided to take matters into her own hands and created a solo show, this show proved to be her break, and went on to win the Audience Choice Award in New York City and is now the #1 Amazon Best Selling novel “Year of the What?”
Since deciding to make her own break Lieberman has appeared in over 30 international stage productions, has produced over 40 independent film and theatre productions, and coached/consulted with over 100 actors, writers, and filmmakers. Jennifer has penned a number of stage and screenplays and her short films have screened at the Festival de Cannes Court Métrage among other international festivals. She is currently gearing up to direct her first feature film.
During the 2020 Covid Pandemic Jennifer had the opportunity to help Executives and Business professionals hone their on-camera skills as the business world was forced into virtual communication. During this time she came up with a simple seven-step program, implementing her filmmaking and performance skills, to help anyone and everyone master their virtual meeting every time. Based on her coaching experience she has published the book “Make Your Own Break: How To Master Your Virtual Meeting In Seven Simple Steps” making her method accessible to everyone looking to improve their virtual presence and presentation skills.
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Table of Contents
Thank you so much for giving us your time! Before we begin, could you introduce yourself to our readers and take us through what exactly your company does and what your vision is for its future?
Jennifer Lieberman: Hello! I’m Jennifer Lieberman and I’m an actor who also writes and produces to give myself work. I have clocked over 10k hours individually as an actor, a writer, and a producer. My childhood dream was to write and star in my own films (and of course other people’s productions) and after years of perseverance, tenacity, and ingenuity, that dream is my reality. I have a true passion for the creative process, making something out of nothing and breathing life into stories be it on screen or on stage.
My big break in my performance career happened when I created a solo show for myself and stopped waiting for my break or to ‘be picked’ When I decided to take control of my fate everything changed. First, I was finally cast in a production where I could show my ability and my range (since the script was tailored to showcase my strengths), second, I could write well, and finally, I could spearhead the production on my own…and all at the same time. Although I don’t love working on solo shows (I prefer to play with friends), this experience helped me realize I could help other frustrated and between-gig creatives create vehicles and showcase pieces for themselves on both stage and screen. So that was my initial vision for Make Your Own Break, to make stuff and to help my friends make their stuff. In less than ten years I’ve worked with over a hundred fellow actors, writers, and filmmakers to help them develop the skills they need to make their own break, I’ve also broken down a few doors for myself in the process.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO/entrepreneur when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get where you are today?
Jennifer Lieberman: When I was a child my dream was to write and star in my own productions…and that is what I do.
I never knew that being a creative or an artist would be similar to being CEO of my own company, the reality is any freelance creative is an entrepreneur and CEO of their own company. I just thought I’d book acting jobs and build my way up. I was so ill-prepared for the industry but in an industry where no two people have found success in the same manner, how can one be prepared? I had no idea that in order to be successful I would have to start treating my life as if it were a Fortune 500 company because I am the company, I am the product. I am a brand.
I’ve stayed disciplined, I’ve stayed in process, and I’ve stayed passionate. I haven’t shied away from challenges or fear, I haven’t played the blame game. I’ve been willing to adapt, I’ve been willing to wear all the hats (even at the same time). I’ve been willing to re-brand. I put my money where my mouth is and keep betting on myself even when no one else will.
I got here by saying yes to running a theatre company in NYC at 22 with no experience when all I wanted to do was perform. I got here by offering to take a production job behind the scenes when I didn’t get the role in a film so I could learn from being on set. I got here by writing myself a solo show despite my fear of not being good enough. I got here through a series of falling down and picking myself back up and learning more skills and creating opportunities for myself. But most importantly I got here by staying inspired by my vision and finding joy in the process.
I am an award-winning writer/performer, a #1 Amazon Best Selling Author, and I’ve been to the Festival De Cannes Court Metrage twice screening the short films I’ve spearheaded as writer, producer, and star. I’ve also helped dozens of other productions come to life with Make Your Own Break. I know a meticulous work ethic and discipline played a huge role as well.
Tell us something about yourself that others in your organization might be surprised to know.
Jennifer Lieberman: Since 2014 I’ve been volunteering with a group of special needs adults teaching acting and improv classes. This is one of the most fulfilling things I do. My favorite part of the creative process is when I help others find treasures within themselves that they were unaware of before. This group was so inspired by the performance classes the organization applied for some grants and we were able to write and make the feature film “The Bella Danza” about an all-abilities dance contest and we had a red carpet screening in Los Angeles in 2018.
Many readers may wonder how to become an entrepreneur but what is an entrepreneur? How would you define it?
Jennifer Lieberman: The simplest way for me to wrap my own head around being an entrepreneur was this – I went from looking for jobs to being the one creating jobs. As an actor I was always looking for a role, as a writer I was always looking for producers and funding, however, as a producer or filmmaker, I’m the one providing work to dozens of people each production. The difference is waiting for someone to give you an opportunity or creating your own opportunity. Sure there is a lot more responsibility, stress, and pressure when you’re in charge and not everyone is built for it, but if you are, it can be exciting and rewarding.
Trust me, if the opportunities I was hoping for had come my way, I probably would not be an entrepreneur today, but the opportunities didn’t come and I wasn’t willing to quit, so here we are.
What is the importance of having a supportive and inclusive culture?
Jennifer Lieberman: In order for there to be any successful collaboration in anything in life there must be a supportive and inclusive culture. The film and theatre industries are the most collaborative work environments out there and the industry is dependant on diverse people, stories, experiences, points of view, and ideologies that come from across the globe the share their talents. An inclusive and supportive environment is crucial for ideas, people, and a business to thrive, especially ideas I may disagree with, those are the ones that usually push people to their greatest achievements.
How can a leader be disruptive in the post covid world?
Jennifer Lieberman: In the post covid world I believe leaders need to disrupt by getting people to connect in real life. We have become so comfortable with virtual life as “the new norm”, pushing our screen addictions into overdrive. I feel like the most disruptive leaders post-pandemic will be the ones who lure us back into actual reality.
If a 5-year-old asked you to describe your job, what would you tell them?
Jennifer Lieberman: This is how I would describe what I do to a 5-year-old:
Part #1 – I’m a writer: I use my imagination to come up with a really great story, then I write the whole thing down, that’s called a script. When I’m finished writing it, I call all my friends who like to play make-believe, and we read it to see how we can make it better.
Part #2 – I’m a producer: Once we decide the story is ready to go I go through the entire script making notes about how long it will take to shoot the movie, how many jobs need to be filled both on camera and off, and how much it will cost. I then devise a total budget and a timeline/production schedule of the amount of time and money it will take to get this movie to the public.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Jennifer Lieberman: I always find letting someone go from my team to be the most difficult decision. It never gets easier, but ultimately it’s always the best decision for the team, and the company.
Leaders are usually asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is your most useless talent?
Jennifer Lieberman: I used to be a gymnast and coached for many years, I can still do backflips.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. If you wrote a book about your life until today, what would the title be?
Jennifer Lieberman: “A Duffel-bag and A Dream”
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Jennifer Lieberman for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Jennifer Lieberman or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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