Darrin is an award-winning talent who has been successful in the entertainment industry for three decades! – Known for working with stars such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, NSYNC, Xscape, and Jagged Edge, and appearing on fan favorites like Soul Food, Stomp The Yard, and current shows The Family Business and Double Cross, Darrin is showing no signs of slowing down. He is only evolving, taking command of his career by telling stories that matter to him and creating opportunities for other rising talent within the TV/Film industry. He also has a recent documentary in negotiations with major networks/ streaming services.
We recently caught up with Darrin to discuss his journey in the industry, and here’s what went down:
When did your entrepreneurial flair first reveal itself?
As an entrepreneur, it really kicked in when I was about 18 years old. I was traveling to Japan and commissioned for a certain amount of money. Once I got there, I saw many opportunities, but I had to manage my schedule more effectively. I realized that I could make more money if I managed my time properly. That is when my flair for entrepreneurship kicked in.
What did your life look like before being an entrepreneur?
It looked like a guy from the Bronx who had a lot of big dreams, creativity, and energy – and it was dispersed all over the place. In other words, I had a lot of ideas that were just ideas. As an entrepreneur, I was able to make those ideas work. When I put those ideas to work, they started manifesting material gain through money and resources. So, we all have ideas, but until we can utilize them to help other people, then chances are, they will just continue to be dreams and ideas. I figured out that when you put your ideas to work, and they help someone else, you can create value for yourself and earn from that.
As a choreographer, actor, and author, what is it that motivates and drives you?
As a choreographer, it was creating dance steps that the whole world would do. As an actor, it’s being able to make people feel, and as an author, it is bringing information to the masses that helps them become more of what they want to be.
In a word, describe your life as an entrepreneur and explain why.
Expanding: As an entrepreneur, I sold dance steps. As an actor, I sold emotion, and as an author, I sell philosophy and ideas. I am still growing and expanding, and my business is growing as I continue to do so.
What were your top three motivations for becoming a choreographer, actor, and author?
Michael Jackson for choreographer. For acting, it was Denzel Washington, John Travolta, and Charlton Heston. As an author, it was Walter Mosley. These people motivated and inspired me to pursue success in these three areas. I saw their success and their greatness, and that motivated me to want to be successful and great.
What do you put your success down to?
I attribute my success to consistent learning. I am a perpetual student.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
It would help if you had a well-thought-out business plan and a great team to help you execute it.
What are the three biggest challenges you have faced growing the business, and how did you overcome them?
Marketing to a diversified audience, growing the brand beyond the black diaspora and protecting the brand from being stolen.
I overcame them by 1) Making the effort to engage with audience members from different backgrounds by asking them questions and learning about what their needs were 2) Being able to speak different languages. I speak French, Spanish and Japanese. That helped me to sell to different audiences. I want to be able to inspire people of all races. When we are really trying to assist society in growing, we need to expand our consciousness to learn how to communicate with all kinds of people. Language is a key way to do that. Interestingly, sometimes people of other backgrounds are surprised. And to that, I say: “Utilizing the tools of education will surprise the uneducated and the educated when used properly.” 3) Copywriting and Trademarking. Anyone can be inspired by your product, use the phrases and work you have created, and make their products just like yours. You want to protect your brand from being hurt if you feel it is of value. You don’t want it to be used in any way you didn’t intend for it to be used.
Does the loneliness of the entrepreneur really exist?
I think it can. Being a dreamer and a high achiever, only some people will understand your vision, and not everyone was given your vision. You can be around 100 people and still feel alone. There are times when I feel lonely. People don’t always get your fire; they don’t always get your vision and your focus. That can be lonely. But, being alone allows you to build even greater, so those people who don’t get you fall away. Those who do get you can help you meet a new level of growth. When you allow yourself to go through the pain of growing, remarkable things happen. They call them growing pains for nothing. So, in short, yes, loneliness does exist. It is a place that is necessary for growth.
As you grew the business, what have been some of the most important leadership lessons you have learned?
To listen to the customers. To seek out new ways to communicate with your audience. To stay abreast of social and economic changes and to keep on top of different ways to process merchandising.
What do you hope to see happen in the near future for small businesses worldwide?
That they grow into large businesses. I don’t believe in starting a business and, ten years later, still calling it a small business. If it remains small, it means you still need to grow it. I also hope that people find and learn the value of small businesses. I think when you are paying attention to the consumer and creating an answer to their needs, you create value. We create value for ourselves and our businesses if we listen and create products and services that people need and want to support.