From in Front of the Camera to Behind It

By Colette Nguyen

More and more actors are rising up, successfully bringing content of their own to the big screen. Several well-known actors, such as John Krasinski, Gina Rodriguez, James Franco and Donald Glover have begun pursuing other careers besides acting, such as directing and producing movies and/or television shows. Branching out in the entertainment industry gave them the opportunity to use the skills and experiences they gained in front of the camera to behind the scenes. These actors-turned-directors decided to take their talents to the next level, as a way of developing their own creative content and contributing to their communities.

John Krasinski moved to New York with the dream of pursuing acting, but did not achieve his big break until he landed the role of Jim Halpert on “The Office,” an opportunity that would change his life. He helped direct a few episodes and worked on some other small projects on the side. He knew he was living a “lottery-ticket life” and decided to make the most out of his life through writing, producing and directing. He is now starring in and directing a supernatural horror film “A Quiet Place,” releasing later this year.

Back in 2014, Gina Rodriguez landed her dream role in the American telenovela, “Jane the Virgin.” From there, she went on to create the production company I Can and I Will. Influenced by her Latina background, she formed I Can and I Will Productions as a way to promote diverse culture on the screen and tell stories from unheard voices. Last year, she signed a multi-year pact with CBS Television Studios to develop various projects for network, cable and streaming platforms.

In between acting gigs, teaching classes and receiving multiple college degrees, James Franco was led into the visionary world of directing. He worked nonstop, from acting in films to directing them. Franco used his ambition and took on his own project, the “heartwarming comedy,” “The Disaster Artist,” a movie which he created, directed, and starred in last year.

Donald Glover is an actor, screenwriter, director, producer, comedian and rapper/singer. From being a writer and actor for NBC sitcoms, Glover went on to produce mixtapes and music albums, going by the popular alias Childish Gambino. He is currently the creator, executive producer and star of the Emmy-winning comedy, “Atlanta,” which recently premiered its second season and is loosely based on his experiences living in his hometown.

These four individuals have come a long way to get to where they are today. It isn’t easy being an overnight sensation and a beloved actor, let alone make the transition from actor to director. They worked their way up, project after project, doing something that they love. Getting to share their own creations became a way for them to take advantage of the experiences and guidance they received as actors so that they could give back to their communities.

Choosing to take on new opportunities isn’t an easy decision to make the process doesn’t magically happen overnight, and not everyone may like their content. It takes years of practice and experience to master, along with courage and passion. There are many circumstances that need to be considered, but in the end, it doesn’t seem to matter. What matters is that they were bold enough to take the chance and make a difference in their community. In this case, being a jack of all trades and a master of none doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.