Hollywood’s Angela Hutchinson steps out on faith to live her dream

Angela Marie Hutchinson

Angela Hutchinson
B.I.H. Entertainment

How did you arrive at this career choice? Was it a deliberate decision or a gradual and natural evolution?
As a casting director, author, producer, scriptwriter and entrepreneur, there’s a story for how I became involved in each of these careers. I think the most interesting aspect is that I went to school to become an engineer. Upon graduating from the University of Michigan with my B.S.E. in Industrial & Operations Engineering, I moved back home to Chicago and went on several job interviews. I knew I didn’t want to work as an engineer but I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. So while I was interviewing for career-driven positions, I worked in various part-time jobs as a telemarketer, sales associate at a clothing boutique, hooters (for a day!) and party cruise promoter. Finally, I had just kind of had enough of all the random jobs and knew I needed to decide on what I was going to do with my life. I recall the evening very clearly, I was in my room kind of depressed and my mother came in and said let’s go get a movie from Blockbuster. We loved renting movies because we’d spend hours in the Blockbuster reading the back of the boxes to decide on the best movie to watch that fit our mood. That night, I told my mother I really want to see a movie about an entertainment news reporter who has do an undercover story to expose the crazy lifestyles of her celebrity friends. My mother said it sounded like a good movie and told me to get it so we could rent it. I was confused by what she was saying because I had just made up that idea. When I explained that to her, she was very baffled and somewhat impressed that I was able to come up with an idea so clearly while literally standing in the store. She told me that I should write the movie. I thought she was joking but she was very serious. So, that night my life changed forever. The next day I purchased the book, How to Write a Movie in 21 Days by Vikki King. And I decided I was going to save enough money to move to LA and to get this movie that I was going to write made into a movie. Little did I know that it would take me 10 years to do that, and that I’d be not only the writer, but also the casting director and the producer. God is so awesome and He has a sense of humor, that’s for sure.

What separates you from others in your field? What is unique to the experience that you create?
I think the one thing that may separate me from my fellow entertainment industry professionals is that I run a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Breaking into Hollywood, which I founded in May 2005 to help creative and business professionals pursue their entertainment careers. I came to a point in my career while living in LA when I felt like I had hit rock bottom. I felt like I did all that I could do to get to where I needed to be but I still had not reached my desired level of success. It was through those moments, that I was inspired by my mother to start an organization to help others that may be feeling the same way. So while I am very passionate about achieving my career goals, I will always at my core have a sincere passion for helping others to accomplish their dreams. Also, the entertainment industry is male driven so there are less than 1% of women directors in the DGA (Director’s Guild of America). So as an African American woman, I feel compelled to be active in the industry, especially as a mother of two. The process of filmmaking is very intense and requires long hours and a dedicated focus toward daily tasks, and that can be difficult to stay on top of everything with having to maintain balance with the relationship I have with my husband and young children, but I try my best to get it done.

For those considering entering this arena, what skill sets do you recommend mastering? What traits are most conducive to success?
Talent is Never Enough. That’s the title of a book by John C. Maxwell, and I think that sums up what artists should remember. When I worked as a talent agent, the actors who expressed how talented or skilled they were, were always the potential clients I chose NOT to sign. I chose to represent actors that were networking all the time, reading books, taking classes, taking new photos and always looking for ways to grow as an artist rather than to perfect their craft. I think that’s it’s wonderful to master a craft and I believe some people are truly gifted but the majority of celebrities today are not really more talented then some of the rising stars, they just had enough hustle (or contacts) to continuously get to each step along their career. As a writer/producer, I think it’s very important to write in any avenue you can and to produce any project you can whether it’s a web series, 60-sec promo, commercial, etc. Lastly, I think you have a written plan of action of goals that are within your control to achieve. Most people tend to create goals they have no control over. Getting an agent, securing a book deal, booking a gig, etc. Those are all possible end results but it’s more important to focus on mailing out your headshots to agents, attending a book conference to meet publishers, saving money for a next project, etc. It’s important to focus on achieving day-to-day inchstones rather than career milestones.

How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?
I focus on day-to-day inchstones rather than career milestones. It’s very hard not to focus on the big picture of where I’d like to be, but I make an effort to block those thoughts of the future/end destination of where I’d like to be and I instead focus on embracing the journey of how my life is unfolding. I make written plans all the time. I used to have a prayer journal where I made a list of all the things I wanted to do. Almost all of them have come into fruition. The bible says, “And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” (Habakkuk 2:2). So I think it’s important to not only make written plan so that you can stay in constant prayer with God about that plan, but also to hold yourself accountable for achieving your inchstones.

Do you think that there are any widely held misconceptions about what you do? If so, what are they and how do you work to dispel them?
Absolutely! I think when someone hears you produced a film, they think of the glitz and glam aspects—the red carpet or casting the film, or even being on set and working with actors, etc. Producing a film takes a ridiculous amount of time and energy, particularly an independent film that is not backed by a studio or production company. Actually those films take a lot of time too but they have more of a budget and lots of qualified people working on their films. Where as in the indie world of filmmaking, you are often on a budget (under $200K) and therefore you have time constraints because that money will go fast! To help dispel myths about the business, I wrote a book entitled, “Breaking into Hollywood,” which can be purchased on Amazon.

How do you map out your goals? How do you measure your success?
I write everything down and keep an ongoing list of goals and projects that I desire to do. I never focus on measuring my success, I only focus on the progress. I think it’s important to be progressive rather than successful because it’s indisputable. To me, $1M may be enough money to make in a year, to Oprah not so much. In society, we often measure success by money but we all know that life is so much more than that. Money certainly helps! But I’d rather have my children and husband and struggle with hope than be wealthy and hopeless. If you have an idea for a book, write it! Or if writing a book seems overwhelming, write an article with the premise of your book and pitch that to magazines. I believe you move your life forward by focusing on being progressive.

Who do you consider to be your peers in your field? Who do you see or use as examples for you to emulate?
Actress/Producer Tangi Miller is a peer of mine that I collaborate with and I also have a colleague, Angelia Bibbs-Sanders, CEO of the Debut Group and former VP at the GRAMMYs. I try not to focus on what others do and instead focus on what God has created me to do. But I do bounce ideas off my closest friends, husband and mother, and sometimes my 5-year-old son. For my last book cover, I let him choose which version he liked best.

Name two of your top role models: one from your industry and one from outside of it.
I like Holly Robinson Peete because she balances her career with her marriage, motherhood and relationship with her mother; outside of entertainment, I’d say my old pastor Bishop Charles E. Blake or Joel Osteen.

Name three books, works, performances or exhibits that changed how you view life or yourself.
Sepia Dreams by Matthew Jordan. Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Walt Disney an autobiography by Neal Gabler.

Why do you consider continued learning important?
As the old saying goes, knowledge is power.

What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?
Most recently, as I have experienced challenging days or days when I am just so exhausted and feel like I can’t do this, I say to myself, I may cannot but He (God) can. Also, a new phrase my husband reminds me of is Jesus is in My Boat (even if I feel like I’m sinking).

What role does technology play in your day-to-day life? How do you utilize it?
I am an avid emailer but I am starting not to like texting cause it hurts my hands. My iPad is cool; my kids love it more than I do though. I think the aspects of technology that resonate with me most are things that truly make my life easier like storage services that Go Daddy offers so you don’t have to be nervous of hard drives failing on you (which is what you use to hold any large projects like a film).

Please define your personal brand.
ICE-pursuing my career with Integrity, Creativity and Enthusiasm

What is your favorite vacation destination and why?
I have not been on vacation in so long. I think my favorite spot was Paris, France for my honeymoon with my husband because we were at Kinkos buying the ticket cause we didn’t have a computer yet or the old computer I had wasn’t working properly to access the internet. And as we were deciding where to go for our on the fly honeymoon, the ticket prices were going up…Finally, I told Arthur to just click purchase! It was such a funny moment that makes me laugh to this day. I also really like the hot weather in Dallas and Arizona. And I like Hawaii but it rains too much there for me.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
All the bad stuff of course. But my first thought was nothing. God made it so I’m blessed to have an opportunity to live in it.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’m still trying to get ready for my baby phat party. It’s been 2 years since my last child, and I should have already lost the weight but I am still working on that. I hope to celebrate soon in a hot Baby Phat dress.

What does it take to be iconic? In your estimation, who has achieved that status?
An influential person who has positively impacted our world in way that lives on for generations. Walt Disney is who comes to mind.

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