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Perfect Pitch: Meredith Collins

Founder, CEO, Actor

Current City: NYC, NY.

Current Job and Entrepreneurial Focus: I am CEO & co-founder of Hookist, which is a virtual songwriting FESTIVAL where music artists write original songs with their fans, often for good causes! It's the realization of my endless fascination with the creative process and the magical people who can capture the zeitgeist and make the whole world SING along with them. I don’t have a musical bone in my body, but fortunately, my partner in life as well as in Hookist does. And another partner, who is actually the inspiration for Hookist, is the lead singer of 13x platinum selling band, Crash Test Dummies. I, on the other hand, was an actor for many years, and while I don’t do much "official" performing anymore, every pitch and even some meetings feel like performances, so my performing-entrepreneurship connection serves me well every day!

Notable Prior Jobs: I am a life-long photographer and lover of cinematography, so in a (failed) effort to avoid the life of a starving actor, I worked as a camera person on feature films like Meet Joe Black (Pitt & Hopkins), The Insider (Pacino & Crow) and The Mirror Has Two Faces (Streisand & Bridges), and I was one of the first women invited to join the International Cinematographer’s Guild. On Meet Joe Black, Anthony Hopkins actually convinced me to go back to acting, so I got certified as a hypnotist, which I figured would be a great survival job and also a powerful tool to fight the effects of rejection that every actor faces - and which works well for entrepreneurship, too! Because of my production background, I ended up running over 100 shows for New York Fashion Week and producing other events like Ford Supermodel of the World. I also helped The Learning Annex grow a real estate event business 800% in 3 years. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I was also the lead hula-hooper at FAO Schwarz.

When I Started Performing: Since the sands of time can influence the way a story is perceived, let me just preface this by saying it happened MANY years ago - not even in this century - so it was/is, in no way, a political statement. Anyway, I did a semester abroad in college and took a public speaking course. One week, we had to give a eulogy and, at that time, Donald Trump was all over the news, even in Paris, for a million different mostly salacious reasons. It had just come out that he had cheated on Ivana with Marla and, of course, Ivana declared war. So I dressed up like her and gave his eulogy. The class roared with laughter and I was hooked!

Performing Arts Background: Somehow, I did it backwards - I did a lot of film work while living in New York and a lot of theatre while living in LA! My favorite role was Amanda in Noel Coward’s Private Lives - there’s nothing more fun than playing a snooty British Aristocrat who ends up in a brawl! I played a rape victim opposite Glenn Close on The Shield and I was in a brilliant black comedy that never saw the light of day called The Perverts. That was a heartbreak, but it taught me perseverance!

How did your performing arts background supercharge your entrepreneurship? My training is really what “supercharged my entrepreneurship” experience. I studied the Meisner Technique where you spend a full year doing repetition exercises. Basically, you and a partner repeat a word over and over again until something organically changes and one of you says a new word. It sounds completely inane, but it is incredibly powerful. You learn to identify your emotions, to sit and experience them (rather than running or changing the subject). You learn to put your attention on the other person - which takes the pressure off you. You learn how to read your audience - which, in a pitch or a presentation, is crucial. You learn how to be in the moment and ride the wave, even when it is uncomfortable, and all the while staying focused on achieving your goal or intention. All definitely superpowers in business as well as acting!

Acting also taught me that no means nothing. There’s always another way or another person or another idea. It taught me determination, to push for what I believe in despite the odds and the naysayers, and it taught me to enjoy the unknown. That’s what I like best about entrepreneurship. There are so many things I need to do that I have no clue how I am going to pull off, but I love the challenge of figuring them out. And my experience as a performer definitely gave me a lot of great tools to make it happen.

Favorite Performer: Yikes, there are too many. Meryl Streep, of course. Tina Fey. Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett. Chris Cornell was my favorite musician. I also really love Brandon Flowers of The Killers. And Mick Jagger and David Byrne!

Follow Meredith Collins:

Twitter - @hookist_ @meredithcollinz

Instagram - @hookistmusic @meredithcollinz

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