Terri J. Vaughn, actress and educator, is now an entrepreneur. Vaughn has opened The Green Room Actors Lounge, an Atlanta bookstore and lounge for actors and industry types to network and learn about their craft.
“The Green Room is named after the waiting area for artists before they go on to perform,” Vaughn says. “And I threw the ‘Lounge’ in there because I want people to know it’s where they can relax. When I think of a lounge I think of relaxing and kicking back.”
Vaughn talked to rolling out about her vision and her mission.
How did the concept of The Green Room come about?
I started teaching classes in Atlanta a year ago. I was teaching from acting books I had accumulated from 15 years of living in Los Angeles. My students would ask, “Where can I get this book?” And I could only send them online.
There was no place in Atlanta for them to go and get it. I called Samuel French, that’s the name of the bookstore in Los Angeles, and asked them about opening up a Samuel French store in Atlanta.
Through my conversations with them, it sparked the idea to open my own bookstore and to just distribute their books and then the coffee bar, lounge and all that came into play because that’s what I would like if I was going to hang out at a bookstore.
With major bookstore chains scaling back, what are you going to do differently to make this venture work for you?
The vibe in there is so different from any other bookstore that I’ve ever been to. It’s more than a bookstore. The atmosphere is very homey, people come there, and you get to hang out sofas, there are movies running on the screens all day long, different classic movies, and people are literally hanging out like they’re in their living rooms and that’s what they feel like.
The pastries and the food that we offer are really good from chef Jason Ellis, a pastry chef. It’s the perfect place to hang out.
How do you compare the Hollywood life as an actress and this life as an entrepreneur?
They both take the same amount of hustle and tenacity, passion and love. With acting, I’m the boss. I’m still in control of my career, and my career is based on me. I’m the product and I have to sell it. It’s the same thing with being a business owner; I have to sell it to people. I’m [filling] a need in Atlanta. There’s nowhere in Atlanta [to get] information on the business [and] how to get into it, who the producers are, who the casting directors are. We’ll carry the Hollywood Reporter, which is exclusive to L.A., New York, and maybe Chicago, and we’ll have it in our store. I just wanted up-and-coming actors to feel like they have a place where they are supported and nurtured and people understand.
What challenges did you face when you decided to open The Green Room and how did you overcome them?
Starting any business, you need the finances and I had to find investors. Eventually I found the perfect ones … my friends. [The Green Lounge is] co-owned by attorney Shannon K. Nash, film producer Roger Bobb [BobbCat Films] and retired NBA player and coach Adonal Foyle, a longtime friend of mine. I was just talking to him about it at dinner and he told me that he would love to support me.
How important is social media to your business strategy?
Very important. I would go on Twitter and keep the followers posted on what I’m doing, for the past couple of months when I was on the grind trying to get this thing up and going.
What is your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
First, find something that you’re very passionate about that means something to you and come at it from the aspect of giving. What can you give people? I think that’s where a lot of people mess up — they’re always trying to get. How can I get money? But you have to be of service, what can I give? And know God can take care of the rest.
Terri J. Vaughan is on Twitter.