Journalist Roland Martin speaks about the importance of relationship building in the entertainment industry (Photo Credit: Regal Media Group/Tim Wells).


The Keys to Success in the Entertainment Industry


What does it take to become successful in the entertainment industry?

What makes Beyoncé different than that great-unknown singer paying their dues in local bars and nightclubs?

According to celebrities like Roland Martin, Rushion McDonald and entertainment attorney Ricky Anderson the keys to succeeding in the entertainment industry is the grind and the art of relationship building.

McDonald, who is the business partner and producer of many of Steve Harvey’s franchises, stated at the MPAC Empowerment Tour’s Houston stop on Oct. 3 that an artist must know what their plans are even if that means taking a step back or accepting a demotion.

After one such demotion, McDonald asked his superiors if he could keep his previous title even if he received far less money.

They consented to his request even if they did not know his reasoning.

However, his reasoning was clear to him.  His reputation in the entertainment industry was sometimes worth more than a paycheck, so he wanted to maintain his image as a wheeler and dealer in Hollywood.

“No one can control their destiny, but you can control your options,” McDonald explained.  “A lot of people hold on to their options too long.”

McDonald persuaded Harvey to leave his initial radio show in Los Angeles with Radio One even though he had no viable options on the table.

The radio show, which started locally and then went national in four markets in 2005, now has eight million listeners nationwide on 77 radio stations.

Now the wheeler and dealer is also the driving force behind “Steve Harvey,” “Family Feud,” “Celebrity Family Feud,” “Neighborhood Awards” and Harvey’s successful book projects.

Despite his success in the entertainment industry, McDonald admits that there are many consequences to success.

He stated that success comes with many opportunities but it is also accompanied by loneliness because many people do not understand the entertainment industry, so there is often no one to converse with when it comes to the struggles of the entertainment industry.

McDonald stated that success and failure sometimes depends on the company one keeps and it is imperative that a celebrity has a strong support group to assist them on their way to the top of the entertainment industry.

One such person that has definitely lent his support to the Harvey/McDonald partnership is entertainment attorney Anderson.

The respected attorney and law professor from Thurgood Marshall School of Law has negotiated deals for everyone from Tyler Perry to Isaiah Washington.

Anderson’s goal often is to keep as many rights for his clients as he possibly can so they will not have to obtain a license to use their own work in the future.

Although music contracts are usually shorter in length, he stated that television contracts are extremely thick and most of the deceptive tricks are placed at the end of the contract because many people will not read through the entire contract.

Anderson emphasized the importance of only granting a company or person one right and trying to obtain a lengthy television contract, which will guarantee approximately 100-200 episodes.

Martin dedicated much of his speech to the art of networking and knowing exactly what you want to say to a celebrity because they are only going to give you enough time for an elevator pitch.

While attending Texas A&M University, Martin was able to talk his way onto Kyle Field in College Station, Texas and meet journalist James Brown.

Impressed by the young student’s determination, Brown gave Martin his telephone number.

When news broke that the NFL had brokered a deal with Fox, Martin was able to reconnect with Brown and get a quote when most of his colleagues had no access to the major players in that deal.

Furthermore, when R&B songstress Teena Marie died in 2010, it was Martin who broke that story via social media because of his contacts in the entertainment business.

The TV One talk show host was able to get quotes from music legends Lionel Richie, Keith Sweat and Michael Bivins of New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe fame.

“If I didn’t have their numbers, I couldn’t call them…If I did not have the relationships I could not have made the calls,” Martin said.  “If I did not establish relationships, I could not have gotten the news.  But more importantly, if they did not trust me, they would never have given me their numbers.”

Nevertheless, once someone achieves success in the entertainment industry it is not time to stop cultivating relationships.

McDonald stated that often celebrities complain that they have to get up early in the morning to promote their music on “The Steve Harvey Morning Show,” but when their career stalls and they begin trying to obtain airtime again those bridges are often already burnt because of unprofessionalism. 


Although the entertainment industry usually does not allow a celebrity to rekindle their career, if an aspiring entertainer keeps those relationships active and retains the burning desire to work hard towards their goals, success in Hollywood is not an impossible dream.

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