How to Ignite Community Support for Your Brand with Darren Darnborough, CEO of WeAudition

by | Mar 26, 2024

From the vibrant lights of L.A. to the revolutionary ideas that are reshaping showbiz, Darren shares his journey. His story is one of creativity and determination, where the quest for better audition processes led to groundbreaking innovations in the industry.

Darren’s deep connection to theater and the arts, rooted in their ability to transcend and unite people from all walks of life, forms the backdrop of his mission. In our conversation, he highlights how the inefficiencies in the traditional auditioning process spurred him to action, leading to transformative solutions that not only streamline the process but also foster a sense of community and inclusion.

Join us as Darren shares his experiences and insights, delving into the challenges he faced and the innovative solutions he proposed. His story is not just about changing the process but also about fostering a community where everyone, regardless of background or skin color, has an equal opportunity to shine.


“Theater and the arts have this transcendent quality that unites people.” ~ Darren Darnborough

“The changes we make change people’s lives.” ~ Darren Darnborough

“Having people that understand where you’re coming from is very underrated.” ~ Darren Darnborough

“Our business is inherently competitive. It shouldn’t be. A lot of people see it as a zero sum game. If I get the role, you don’t get the role.” – Darren Darnborough




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Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Los Angeles, the glow of the marquee lights, the hum of conversations about the next big film, The whispers of the Dreamers and the Shakers. In today’s story, we meet Darren Darren Barrow, an actor in L.A. who found himself at the center of a revolution in how SHOWBIZ got to work.

Darren Darnborough: Theater and the arts has this transcendent quality that unites people. And it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what color your skin is or what these things.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: As an actor. Auditions were part and parcel of Darren’s routine. Yet the inefficiencies of the process became glaringly obvious to him, so he set out to transform it.

Darren Darnborough: Our business is inherently competitive. It shouldn’t be. A lot of people see it as a zero sum game. If I get the role, you don’t get the role Darren envisioned.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: We audition. It’s not just an online platform, but an inclusive community where actors from anywhere stepped into the spotlight.

Darren Darnborough: The changes we make change. People’s lives were very impactful and powerful. We experience should show seamless. But what you’re doing is you’re creating that culture through every interaction that that person has with your brand.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Today we go behind the scenes, we unravel the journey from London stages to L.A. studios and dive into the mind of a man who’s as much an entrepreneur and community leader as he is an artist. I’m Dr. Jessica Kriegel and this is Culture Leaders, where we decode the magic behind the masters of movements to unleash the power of culture.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: This is the story of Darren Darren Barrow, master of a movement leveraging community to change the way actors go to work.

Voiceover: You’re listening to a culture partner’s production.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So, Darren, I’m so excited to talk to you today about the things that you’re passionate about. And I always start with the same question. What is your purpose? What is your why?

Darren Darnborough: Ah this is a really interesting question about Jessica, because I didn’t know what it was for a while. I thought it was one thing. And over time it transformed into something else because I studied a lot about this and I’ve listened to people like you speak and and really struggled with like, what is my why? And in the last few years, I’ve come up with the fact that my way is to build community.

Darren Darnborough: That’s really what has come out of anything I’ve done, whether it be my career as an actor or a filmmaker or a business owner or within philanthropic and charity work. It’s always been about building community. So I realized my way is to help other people in whatever facet that I can.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So I’ve heard you talk about this and the evolution of your why before, and I’ve also heard the most recent definition of your why is being foster community here today. You said build community. Is that another evolution? Is that an intentional choice to move from FOSTER To build and.

Darren Darnborough: No, that was just a slip of the tongue, I guess. But okay.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: You’re you’re communicating the essence of it rather than the.

Darren Darnborough: Jokes have like a specific byline. But I think you’re probably talking about my Instagram bio, which is, I think, to curate and foster community. And for me, it’s all the same thing, whether you’re building a community, fostering it, curating it. For me, it’s knowing lots of people, knowing what makes them tick, knowing what they’re good at and knowing what they need in life.

Darren Darnborough: And I get immense joy of putting those two things together, even though that’s not technically a business or a are a profitable thing for me in terms of a simple structure. Doing those always benefits me in some way, whether it’s just seeing my friends succeed or as being part of the evolution of something that innovates or creates bigger value somewhere down the line for someone else or myself, it could be, you know, but I don’t go into things thinking at the bottom line, if that makes sense.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah. No, that’s beautiful. So here’s a question that may be a little personal, but let’s go there. Why is that your why? I mean, building community, fostering community. Is there some childhood experience that you had that made that important to you? I know you do a lot of self-improvement studying, right? You go to seminars, you read those books you’ve said.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So what about building community pulls you.

Darren Darnborough: It’s interesting you mentioned childhood because I was never an unpopular kid at school and I also wasn’t the cool kid at school. I sort of sat between the two and actually that’s where I started to realize my ability for you not uniting those sides, if you like, because I was able to speak with and hang out with the cool, naughty kids.

Darren Darnborough: I was from a rough area, so that’s what the cool kids go with, but never go fully into that world. And equally, I could hang out and I could be a studious student and get good grades and be, you know, respected by those teachers and the students as well. But I was never the super popular person. So actually, as a kid, I was that that glue, if you like, between the groups.

Darren Darnborough: And quite early on I started to host birthday parties, which turned into regular parties just for our school friends. And I’m talking like on a big scale, I would rent out places and rent deejay and things like that. And that’s where I realized I had this ability to bring people together. So that’s probably is probably the most intuitive thing to me.

Darren Darnborough: I couldn’t tell you why that is, though. Maybe just the need for validation and acceptance probably is somewhere along the way.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I want to talk about validation more in a minute, but I want to dig into something because I do a lot of research on in-group outgroup dynamics in the world of culture. Really, we’re trying to build a bigger and bigger in-group with less and less people feeling part of the outgroup, right? And when I was in high school, I was a thinner kid.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I majored in theater in college. I was just terrible at it. I mean, the idea that I might actually be an actress one day was never really there because I knew that I was garbage.

Darren Darnborough: You know that. that someone telling.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: You the talent? No, I knew that. I just didn’t have that emotional thing. That vulnerability thing wasn’t developed in me. I was so self-conscious that I couldn’t go there yet. Maybe now I’d be better at it. My boyfriend calls me a business actress.

Darren Darnborough: Which is not a bad version, you know, It’s a very you know.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: But one of the things I noticed in high school, I was a theater geek. The theater geeks we called them were actually some of the most popular people in school and some of the least popular people in school. It was this group that spanned all of those different other flicks. There were jocks that were theater geeks, there were cheerleaders that were theater geeks, and there were computer nerds that were theater geeks.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: It was this universal group. Do you feel like theater or acting or that thing that maybe it’s the arts has something to do with that ability to be with all of the different groups? Or is that just something I’ve made?

Darren Darnborough: I absolutely agree with you. I think theater and the arts has this transcendent quality that unites people based upon their views on their likes and dislikes within that realm. And as such, there’s a unity in diversity in that where you’re brought together to put on this joint production or to appreciate this joint thing. And it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what color your skin is or all these things you are all in that together.

Darren Darnborough: Same as probably a sports team. I’ve never been that into sports, but I imagine that level of camaraderie is similar and so I think, yeah, those, those kind of environments do foster that what you’re talking about in terms from my early years, once I stopped just doing plays at school with my own school friends and school groups and went out into doing it in an amateur sense still, but in the big, wide world is like my group of friends really became very diverse, not just in cultures and types, but in ages and genders.

Darren Darnborough: Everything. And you learn different things. Okay, So if you’re hanging out with people seven or eight years older than you and equally younger cast members that are like your little brothers and sisters, you develop the skill set to understand more people.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I think so the master of the movement that you are is this movement of community, of actors, of casting directors started as we rehearse right then moved to we auditioned and in the beginning it was about bringing actors together to be able to rehearse in a virtual environment and to find community because it can be a very lonely profession.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And I’ve heard you talk about validation as something that we’re creating for each other in that environment. Can you talk about that and the power of validation and driving community and building that movement?

Darren Darnborough: Yeah, absolutely. So just to give some context, my previous businesses or hobbies have all been in building communities as well. My business before this was an online community of promotional models. And so I unite the industry. I’ve done I’ve been involved in things for British people in L.A., different community levels. So what the value is in that is having people that understand where you’re coming from is is very underrated, okay?

Darren Darnborough: Because most people get from a work environment or a family environment, those people are there for you in different ways, but they’re not really they don’t have the same commonalities as you do for your passion. They might be supportive, they might be available, they might be helpful in different ways. But someone exactly understanding you and your skill set and passion on the same level is what to me builds community and having the validation that comes from that.

Darren Darnborough: There’s there’s a sort of intrinsic validation of knowing someone is going through the same struggles as you are. And when I say struggle, I don’t just mean bad stuff. I mean a struggle can be the the need to recognize your success that no one else gets. It could be understanding finances. And you don’t have to be poor to understand why you can be.

Darren Darnborough: Did being very successful and equally the people around you wouldn’t understand your financial struggle in that word. And so it’s just about creating commonality amongst people. And that validation thing can come from how you see others interacting in the world with your skillset or your niche. And then also anything that is a bit lonely, like an acting career.

Darren Darnborough: And I’ll explain why acting is lonely. It’s very rare that you are on a production with a cast and a crew for a long period of time. Of course there are people that have that and they’re in a top, top 10%. Even those that have it for a few months of the year and then it goes away. More common is to dip in and out of jobs one day here, two days there when we care.

Darren Darnborough: You don’t have that level of camaraderie. So you your your group, your network becomes your other friends that do that all your you know, your normal friends from however you get them from school or college or your gym class or however. And so in order to create a community of people that understand that the validation that can come from, like I said, not only the struggles, but in order to give each other the encouragement they need.

Darren Darnborough: That’s one of the things we set out to do with we audition because our business is is inherently competitive. It shouldn’t be, but it feels that way because a lot of people see it as a zero sum game. If I get the role, you don’t get the role, which is true. Only one person can get the job. But I come from a different standpoint of that’s my job.

Darren Darnborough: And then the next one is your job. We’re not always right for the same thing, but in the community we’re creating and we audition, which is people helping each other to get those jobs, to get better on their craft. In return, they get validation through the review system. For instance, our actors rate their readers and that we’ve found that to be one of the most powerful aspects.

Darren Darnborough: Is an actor getting a review of their good work from one of their peers is so rewarding because normally they don’t get any validation unless they’re on the top TV show and some blog or some news article talks about it.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, well, in the workplace we talk about recognition and it’s just as powerful coming from a peer as it is from a manager. When I get recognized by a peer for good work that I’ve done, I feel validated, I feel seen, I feel valued. Right? And that makes me motivated to continue to contribute in the way that I was recognized for.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So I see that. But here’s a question I have about community. I feel right now, just me as an example, and I would imagine a lot of other people feel the same way, that there are thousands. Let’s simplify it. Dozens of competing community opportunities that I should theoretically be joining, right? I mean, I’m a keynote speaker. There’s the community of keynote speakers.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I’m an employee at a company called Culture Partners. The community of those employees, the community of our clients and culture partners, the community of I’m in recovery, my recovery community, the community of the parents at my daughter’s school, the community I’m in divinity school that they’ve just created an online platform for my diverse divinity school to join that community.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And here we are only so many hours in the day. I’m overwhelmed and it’s like and the impression I got when I got the email about the Divinity School community that I got the email for on Monday was another freaking community. You know, I don’t have time for that. What’s interesting is I notice in myself I’m super reluctant to join the keynote our community because of envy and zero sum game thinking, right?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Because, well, these people, if they get a gig, I won’t get that gig. And I’m jealous and I have all of the character defects of jealousy, you know, and envy that make me reluctant to join a community of people that I compete with. So how do you overcome that in building this movement, building this community? How do you get people over that kind of ego thing that.

Darren Darnborough: Well, I’m going to answer this in two ways. First, I want to address the the abundance of community. I feel that overwhelmed, too. There are so many things I could be part of, and I don’t just you know, I’m not just an actor. So I exist in the film community. I exist in the entrepreneur community. There’s an I live in L.A. There’s so many events in L.A. It’s different from many other places I’ve seen in the world.

Darren Darnborough: But there’s just so much to get involved in the how. I think the way I deal with that overwhelm is firstly just be part of the things that mean something to me, not the things I think I should join, not the things that. And then the second way I look is can I add value as well as taking value?

Darren Darnborough: Because if I can’t, then I don’t see as a community. I just see in a one way interaction when I’m assessing which communities to join, I also look at them very carefully and think, Where is the heart of this community? What is the purpose of this thing? Often, and I’m speaking as a business owner here, I make money from communities.

Darren Darnborough: I get that. But if your mission is not clear of your your value is not communicated in the right way, I can see that as transparent to me when I look at a community that’s just existing to make money by reaching out to people because they’ve latched on to this idea of community, I won’t see that ecosystem and a good community should sort of exist without you.

Darren Darnborough: You, to me, you are the guiding light of that community. So you set the values, you set the tone, but if it’s not existing without your help, then it’s really just a business or a one way proposition where you want followers, not community. And I think that’s the biggest thing I see, the kind of trend right now. A lot of these things you’re talking about, I’m not sure because I haven’t seen your exact communities but might be someone’s egotistical need to create following versus instill a set of values that are intrinsic to that community in order to give value and help each other.

Darren Darnborough: And so that’s really where we come from, is we like we understand what these these people need because we’re those people our self know ultimately we audition is a software that does a task and matches someone with someone else is simple, but the community comes from how we present not the terminology, the language we use, the brand values, what we believe in and what we expect our community to believe in and do.

Darren Darnborough: Sounds a bit cultish, I know, but it’s just things like it’s a supportive community. We talk about that word support all the time. We talk about kindness, we talk about helpfulness, we talk about diversity, and that’s how you build a community, the values you want versus it just being a software. Otherwise you can call it a marketplace, you can call it a following.

Darren Darnborough: But my local Trader Joe’s or Ralph’s is a market place, but I don’t feel a sense of community when I go in there and I don’t need to, I’m going to be transactional.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So what about the envy piece? I mean, I see that in the workplace as well, competing departments wanting more budget or influence or time with the decision makers. I mean, it’s tough.

Darren Darnborough: I mean, I’m not going to say that I’m impervious to envy because obviously I am. We all are. I do feel that way sometimes I don’t struggle with it because it’s just so vast. If I was to think every day, why is this person doing this? Not me? I’ve got a community of tens of thousands of actors out there.

Darren Darnborough: A lot of them are doing better than me. A lot of them, If I got myself wrapped up in that, you know, that would crush me to think I’m spearheading a community of people that are all doing better than me in that craft. But then they’re also not running a business. They’re also, I know people that are doing amazing in acting.

Darren Darnborough: I’ve never had a romantic relationship. I think, okay, if that’s something they wanted, they’re missing out on that and it’s all a toss up to deal with envy. I just look at it like this What can I learn from my community? And I prefer to replace envy with emulate. So if you’re in a community of keynote speakers and you say you’re reluctant to join it because you’re feeling like you might get envious replaced, I would have Emily go into that community and go, Whoa, if this person gets this, what are they doing differently?

Darren Darnborough: How can I emulate the mean? You might find they’re not doing anything differently. It’s just that that thing fit that that need at the time and your thing’s going to fit a different need. You might also come up with something. Go how? You know what? Like this podcast is successful and so is another one. And they’ve both got neon signs behind them.

Darren Darnborough: Maybe that’s something I try, you see. And. And so just keep your eyes open and try and diminish the envy, I would say.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah. Okay. So I want to ask you about this virtual in person balance or tension. You’re building an online community. You also have live in-person events very frequently to bring people together. We work with clients who were all in person in the office and then suddenly they leave. And now everyone’s working from home. They’re trying to do hybrid.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: What is the balance? What have you seen in the power of being together to foster or build community versus being online? And could it be effective 100% online, this community building when we’re just on a zoom, I, I, you know, when we’re just on a zoom or is that in-person thing super critical or what are the purpose of the events really.

Darren Darnborough: As someone that owns a video chat platform, like I should believe in the power of video chat and I do I think connect connection is is brilliant in many ways. However you can get it, there’s something special about being in person and I think it’s intangible and I think it’s that is to secure you just you can’t put your finger on it.

Darren Darnborough: But the magic of connection, whether it’s a little human touch, you know, a hug or touch or staring someone actually in their eyes. I mean, this thing that we’re doing right now, I’m looking at you and you’re looking at the corner of my screen. I know we’re having a conversation, but we’re not really connecting in an in an innately human way just because the way the screen is set up.

Darren Darnborough: Right. If you look at your camera and I look at my camera, we’re looking at each other for the viewers, but then we’re not looking at each other for real. So then I’m not seeing the nuances of things. Those are those little things. I think body language is all important, but having that in-person connection is just a bond that us as humans have that I think strengthens things in a way that you can foster a connection or you can begin a connection online.

Darren Darnborough: But I think in any any walk of life, at some point that doesn’t translate to in-person. You’re missing like 80% of everything I can see from the neck down. I can’t I can’t tell your style. I can’t tell your body language. You could have your legs crossed. You could have them open. All these things that you’re going to miss.

Darren Darnborough: You’re not a three dimensional person for me. I can’t see how you interact with the world around you. I mean, have you ever been? I love to use dating analogies for stuff because I think the way we meet and the way we are romantic in life is an analogy for a lot of other things. So have you ever seen somebody that you like the look of in a room and you think they’re attractive and then you see the way they move around the room and it turns you on?

Darren Darnborough: Might be the way they click the word. Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And vice.

Darren Darnborough: Versa. Or it may be the way they shrug someone off. Or it may just be that they’re body language, but on paper they would be great. They have this job, they look like this, they got this style and just some subtle movements or gestures go that’s the opposite of that to me is what builds a community of seeing those things that you go, I like that person.

Darren Darnborough: They show up, I see how they interact with other people. You know, at my events, for instance, one of I think my job as a host is to firstly put on a good event and that’s really simple elements pick a nice, nice plan you this relative to your market, get them to get them drinks and bring good people.

Darren Darnborough: Bringing good people. You could have a good party in a parking lot as long as you bring good people. Then I see my job as a host to go around and make everyone feel welcome, whether that’s the person standing on their own or the person that comes with a group, make them feel welcome, find something out about the people that I don’t know about.

Darren Darnborough: Introduce them to other people in the room, but they can go and do that themselves. So without understanding the context, you can’t do that. And that’s why I think in in a live in person, whether it’s just one on one for the reasons I said earlier or in a group, it’s that interaction and that cross flow that makes it makes an enhancement on just digital stuff.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So you get sponsors for these events. How do you communicate the value of the event, the value to them, the mission or the purpose of the event? I mean, how do you get these people? That’s hard to do. What is your secret sauce to get that done?

Darren Darnborough: Well, the real answer is sometimes we get sponsors and sometimes we don’t. And the reason we don’t often is because we’re the sponsor and my brand is the sponsor, and I want all the attention on that front. So I don’t like to dilute the offering if that’s if that makes sense. When we do get sponsors, I try and do it depends which event I’m doing and for what we’re talking about the current company for we audition.

Darren Darnborough: It has to be a brand that aligns with what we’re doing. So it has to be a brand that that gives some value to our community, not just some random thing and definitely not something that’s that’s opposing to what our values are. And secondly, I want it to give value to the event. It needs to to contribute something to make that experience better.

Darren Darnborough: Now, how I communicate that to the brand, when you’re talking to any anybody’s company, you’ve got to realize everyone is egotistic or I mean, gets us to go, You’re against that. We’re by nature egotistical, so I don’t make sure I see instead of how most people come at it and saying, I’ve got this great friend, I’ve got this great thing that I’m doing and I need this to make it happen, I find out what they need.

Darren Darnborough: What are you looking for right now? What is your objective now? Some people’s objective is to have that logo on a neon sign behind them. Other people’s objective is to meet ten quality people in the room that they can then have a business meeting with there. Their objectives are going to be very different. And so what I can deliver for them is also going to be very different.

Darren Darnborough: Is the brand looking for a couple of high level celebrity endorsements? Are they looking for a shout out to your mailing list of 100,000 people? Maybe they’re looking for both. And then I crossed the proposition based upon not what they need and how by them being involved, it can be delivered.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay. So speaking of what they need, we’re in the middle of this actors strike. We’re at the time of this recording writer’s strike after strike. It’s in the headlines of regular basis. What is your can you share from an insider’s perspective what your stance is on it? The state of the industry, just a high level view from you.

Darren Darnborough: I mean, the state of the industry is pretty rough right now for our industry and not just our industry, but the industries that are affected around it, which, you know, is part of our life, to be honest, because so many businesses and industries rely on the entertainment industry, even things like dry cleaners and florists and things that you don’t think of are affected by this city wide economic downturn.

Darren Darnborough: I read just that. I think something like $5.6 billion has been lost in this economy so far. My stance on it, you know, I’m a union member, I’m a SAG-AFTRA member, I’m an actor. That’s one of my trades. And as that with that hat on, I do believe there’s changes that have got to be made in terms of the payments.

Darren Darnborough: The actors get, the residual payments and the protections. And I specifically with my business hat on, the motto was Change the way people watch television has changed. The viewership have changed. I am just empathetic to both sides, which is an unpopular opinion. I know my fellow actors are very against the big studios, but then I also remember a time when the big studios paved the way for us to have different voices in film and TV, and the Silicon Valley model is now being criticized was the one that also laid the ground for different diverse voices and was able to take those bets that other companies didn’t.

Darren Darnborough: And I would say that those other companies didn’t take them saying that they they couldn’t make sense of it. Where did they probably could. It just was the way things were done were always done that way. So they were always done that way. And then you had this disruption and as with any disruption, you get some good things and some bad things.

Darren Darnborough: And now we’ve moved away from that disruptive landscape of providing different entertainment, different voices, an abundance of choices, right? That we never had before. We used to watch four or five channels and you watched a sitcom or a sports show or that was in news, right? That that was your choice. So of course, I was a funnel then to one thing or another.

Darren Darnborough: Now there’s this abundance of content out there which is competing for your attention on the television and off. You’re just spending 3 hours on tik-tok. You’re not physically spending 3 hours engaged with television. You might be on at the same time, but your eyeballs are split. And so the the structure does have to change your has and it has to mirror it for both the actors and the studios.

Darren Darnborough: And I think the issue that’s happening right now, from everything I’ve researched and read about it, and I know a lot of people on both sides of the coin, the producers, the studio people and the actors and it seems like the the sticking point is trying to find a system that works for both sides, that respects the differing models and I think that the thing we’re at right now is old methods of being tried to be applied to the new technologies and and outlets and in my mind, it has to be something completely new because one way is not going to fit with the other way.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: What you’re describing is disruption and change that everyone is experiencing in every industry. To some degree because of technology, the pace of change, changing dynamics, changing industries covered. I mean, auto manufacturers are dealing with exactly the same problem that you’re discussing, right? Even non-unionized, I mean, literally every single business I talk to is talking about how fast things are changing and they have to do things completely different.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: We audition is disrupting the industry in a way. I mean, I was an intern in a casting directors office. New York City was my first job. Yeah, outside of when I graduated college because I knew I couldn’t be an actor. I said, I’ll just decide who gets to be in movies, which isn’t what that is either. And I realized later, so I quit after three months, mean the way that they would organize actors and actresses was headshots that they would put in filing cabinets, that they would have to look at the headshot and decide what this person was, you know, like eclectic look.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And you put them in the eclectic look folder and then, you know, super hot guy and they’d put them in the super hot guy folder. And that was really the system. And that person could only be in one folder because there was only one headshot, you know, And that was the system. I mean, it was a completely insane.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: You are disrupting the industry in a completely different way. You’re like the Uber for actors, I would imagine, as a way of describing it for casting directors.

Darren Darnborough: Yeah, right. In a way, yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So how do you see your business contributing to this blowing up of the way we’re doing things and contributing to this need that you’re describing?

Darren Darnborough: Well, we’ve always come from a place of doing stuff differently. Right from the start we started the idea came to us in like 2013. We developed to around 12 or 14 and launched in 2015 and at the time people weren’t really using video chat in the ways we are now. It was available, Skype and whatever, but it was different.

Darren Darnborough: Definitely not being used for our industry, for the acting industry in that way. And so we brought in this technology to solve that problem. But from the start we never wanted to be another casting submission website. We wanted to provide opportunities for actors, but we didn’t want to just be a carbon copy with a logo change of what’s already out there.

Darren Darnborough: As an actor myself, there’s far too many versions of the same thing that I have to sign up to. I have to maintain because they’re just competing companies in the market that don’t offer me as an actor any additional value is just splitting my attention. Like if I was made to shop at five different supermarkets. The four actors thing you mentioned, Joe, we’re an on demand service which allows an actor to book another actor to help them out on their audition.

Darren Darnborough: So what we did was create a marketplace for these actors to not only enlist help for themselves very easily, but also extract knowledge and talent and skill from this wide pool of people they may not have access to. I’m sorry, they probably definitely didn’t have access to even living in Los. And then these only have access to this many actors I know.

Darren Darnborough: Now we’ll have this worldwide forward. Given that access and giving that level of knowledge to people empowers them. That the way we’re doing things is always been different. So one of the things that you said it started talking about and that that pre question was this idea of typecasting. The actors into these buckets. And that’s how all the traditional casting companies are working and all the softwares are working at what is my hire, what kind of look am I or these things.

Darren Darnborough: So we flipped that on its head and allow our members to describe themselves in as many different tags as they want. And then those tags are fed into a database which allows people to search based upon how a person describes myself. And that really allows fluidity in the industry in terms of terminology such as skill sets that might have not existed when you build that software.

Darren Darnborough: So imagine before blogging was blogging, no one knew what blogging was. But even into descriptive terms, there’s there’s always a different way that somebody wants to describe themself with regards to their gender identity or their sexual preference or things like that. And so allowing somebody to have complete autonomy about how they describe themselves on a platform, but having that information still available to be fed into a system to make it useful for someone else, that’s a way we’ve disrupted and we’re continuing to do that.

Darren Darnborough: In terms of marketplace features, like I said, we never wanted to carbon copy what’s out there. We’re always looking at what what else does a person in this community need? How can we fill that need in a new and interesting way that’s trying to take advantage of current technology or where it’s going, but still honoring what the profession is.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So what’s the hardest thing about building this community or the greatest challenge you’re facing?

Darren Darnborough: I would say the relentless promotion of it within the right circles. We have a very strong community. We have a we have a good fan base that there’s our customers generally love what we do. They talk about it organically. I love that as a business we still need more and more and more people all the time because we can’t develop and innovate continually without keep raising our game.

Darren Darnborough: And so in one sense it could sound greedy, Hey, don’t you have enough members? We do, but the more members we get, the more we can put into growing and innovating and changing and doing all these positive things. Otherwise you just get stagnant and finding those people. It sounds like it should be easy. And it is. We do know where to find them, but my advice to any business owner out there, it’s relentless, right?

Darren Darnborough: You don’t you don’t get to stop. The minute you stop, your community goes down. Right. And it’s just that’s why we do podcasts. That’s why I go to events. That’s why I host events, because you’re constantly got to be engaging with your community and giving them something new, giving them some reason to talk about you.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, I mean, don’t be apologetic about the need to grow the business. I’ve had that same thought, and what I realized is if your purpose is profound and in some ways serving the world in it is then you need to grow the business in order to continue to make that impact. And that means making money. And so we’re not anti-capitalist over here.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: You know, we want to do the right thing. We want to help the world and we want to employ people. And the only way to do that is to continue that.

Darren Darnborough: 100% agree.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Are in a capitalist.

Darren Darnborough: Society. I often say that when people sort of they they have negative opinions of entrepreneurs or the billionaires. I just think about all the people they employ or those families. They support all the innovation that they can take a risk on that someone else can. And so that’s another driving force to build your business to a degree of super wealth is because unless you’re evil, you can literally just help more people and create more good things.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Well, I’m taking an ethics class right now and evil is relative, apparently. I just think.

Darren Darnborough: So.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: But that’s a deeper conversation for another day. So speaking of challenges, we do have some callers that we want to take their questions and hear your perspective on some things that they may be challenged. Okay. Let’s go to the first question.

Caller: Hey, how’s it going? My name’s Calvin. I’m currently living in L.A.. I came here from Hawaii two weeks ago, and I want to say thank you, Daryn, for bringing me to my first there in Hawaii. That was like the coolest experience ever. Thanks, man. But I do have a question for you. What’s the biggest advice you can give to someone who is starting out their career in business or acting like which route would you take first?

Darren Darnborough: Because you can only do one thing at a time. So I guess it would help a lot of new people out there who are getting their hands and feet wet. So yeah, let me know. And thanks for having me at this podcast.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: That’s cool, Darren.

Darren Darnborough: Hey, well, that was a nice surprise to see Calvin Calvin in Hawaii, like he said, my premier, and he shot some great pictures. US. So my advice and this is controversial is try and do both, but be very focused on both. I think there was a world before and I certainly existed in that world where if you did more than one thing, you looked unsuccessful in the thing that you’re pursuing.

Darren Darnborough: And I definitely received that criticism, You know, well, if you do business and it’s the acting not going very well, that’s what I used to hear. And I’m like, Nice. I can do both. You know, I don’t it doesn’t take all of my day every day. And then maybe I realized I was just putting more time in the most people.

Darren Darnborough: So in their minds, you couldn’t do both. So I would I would pursue both. Calvin, you are a very creative, talented person. I know. And I would make sure that you keep your focus as clear, though, because you could end up scattering your attention so much that you’re not really sure of what you’re doing. Create a plan. For instance, I’ll give you my personal thing.

Darren Darnborough: I currently do acting and business. And some people say, How do you how do you manage your things? How do you fit in? I said, It’s really, really simple. If I get an audition that goes into my urgent, you know, section of my day, I have to do that because it has a deadline. Some other people are relying on it.

Darren Darnborough: So I focus on that. And then when that is done, literally put it away and I focus back on my business straight away. Like I would be doing two tasks for the same job. And I think that’s what helps. Now, if you if you’re somebody that ruminates over your audition after you’ve put it in and you worry about how you could have done it better or whatever.

Darren Darnborough: But so keep those things compartmentalized and move on to the thing that you need to do, which is probably for you your video photography business, and then just be very, very present or focused on that. When you’re doing that, make sure you allocate enough time to both things to be successful, because if you don’t, you will be as Confucius saying he who chases two rabbits catches neither and I do believe that to be in a certain degree.

Darren Darnborough: But I think if you chase one, rub it in the morning and one rabbit at night, you might catch a break.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Because I was wondering about that, because I said, wait a minute, that Confucius saying is the opposite of what you’re suggesting, but you’re saying there’s the day rabbits and the night rabbits.

Darren Darnborough: Never used to be the case. It. But now we’re in a world where you can be a multi-hyphenate, be very successful, you know?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, well, I was a keynote speaker for eight years while I also had a corporate day job that was completely unrelated to the keynote business. And it worked right? Today there are people who have side hustles and main jobs and it’s actually way more normal than ever before. I have a follow up question to that. One thing that he said was about the experience he had at an event and a lot of the work we do is based on the results pyramid, which says that experiences shaped beliefs which ultimately drive people to take action, and that’s what’s going to get a result.

Darren Darnborough: Way can you say that? Can you say that again? That’s brilliant.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah. Experiences Thank you. It’s not mine. It was invented by Tom Smith and Roger Connors, but it is the framework around which all of the work we do exists. And so it is that experiences shaped beliefs which drive actions and ultimately get results. Wow. So the foundation of any culture change is experience, right? When you create an intentional experience and it can look as simple as we were talking about validation earlier, recognizing someone for having done someone, that’s an experience they receive that we hope shapes a belief.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Let’s say that we want to see more of that out of them, that that is valued here, that they are seen when that happens and that that will take lead to an action which is that they do more of that. And then that gets the organization a result, which is we got more innovation or whatever the thing was.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So are you intentional about the beliefs that you’re trying to shape when you create these event experiences or even just the user experience on the website? And if so, what are those beliefs you want to shape?

Darren Darnborough: The simple answer the 150% very intentional. I’ll go to the events first and then the user experience, because then quite different things in an event. As I explained earlier, my job is to host and to bring people together. So yes, I’m very intentional about every element of that event. I’ll give you some insight into the venue I pick will be a place that I consider to be aspirational for a community, right?

Darren Darnborough: It has to project the brand values of my brand, which is a higher end luxury brand in the acting market. Okay, It’s not like leave it to us and we’re not trying to be that, but we’re trying to be a more sophisticated membership for the active market because our avatar, our customer avatar are working successful actors. Now, it doesn’t mean that every single person on our platform is a working, successful actor.

Darren Darnborough: But we’ve had A-listers and we’ve had brand new people out of college, and I’ve had reports from my members that the brand new person out of college has met with the A-lister to help them on their audition and. They’ve got a review from the A-lister saying this was so helpful. Can you imagine the validation of that? Okay, So then now the Avatar, the customer avatar is not the A-list and there’s not enough of them.

Darren Darnborough: My Idol customer is that working actor that’s regularly auditioning. And so I think about, well, what kind of experience do they want or are they used to? And then the people that aren’t there yet, what kind of experience they aspire to. And that’s the experience we create. Now, when you walk into a beautiful venue and you’re handed a glass of free champagne that you weren’t expecting and some nice food is going around and some trays that you weren’t expecting.

Darren Darnborough: And the first five people you to are lovely and one of them is famous. That experience you get is this feeling of belonging and acceptance and validation been invited to this thing and you’ve been treated in a certain way and you suddenly feel like you have a seat at the table. Now, if you look around that room and it is diverse in nature and ethnicity and skill level, you go, okay, I’m part of this.

Darren Darnborough: It’s not. It’s something that you feel. And again, that represents our brand values, where a world where platform that anyone that’s an actress Pokemon and so that has to show in my live events you can’t walk into an event with only 18 year olds in it. You can’t walk into an event with only 60 year old in it, or only black people or only white people, because that would it be communicative about brand values?

Darren Darnborough: Okay. And there’s little touches that we do from the, you know, the way that our logo is displayed, from the way we speak to people and the way I want to use venues that WHO staff are as kind as we are to our guests. Okay. And then the other thing I like to do is bring multiple levels of value to an event.

Darren Darnborough: So for instance, the venue are going to pick will be probably a newer venue that we’re actually helping out by bringing in people that you know. So we’re helping that business, our picks photographers that that need need to work more because they’re building up their portfolio in a different way. So we’re trying to always help even in the people we employ and bring together and that creates out of that environment onto the U.S. When you’re designing anything, whether it’s a marketing materials or the customer experience on a website, we are detailed to the point of pixels.

Darren Darnborough: Being my partner laughed about this all the time. Hopefully we will often be talking and we will say that there’s something wrong with this page and we’re like, yeah, this should be like a couple of pixels over and it’s it seems stupid, it seems stupid, but when you create a seamless experience that is nice for customer and it speaks to them in the way that they feel seen and validated.

Darren Darnborough: And that’s in, in, you know, we have a very specific tone in our language. It’s slightly colloquial, it’s fun, but it’s still professional. So those things are our brand values. And if you concentrate on those things and getting them all right, the experience should show seamless. But what you’re doing is you’re creating that culture through every interaction that that person has with your brand.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, that’s intentional culture creation.

Darren Darnborough: Nurturing.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Masterclass in it. Okay, we have another caller let’s take another question. Hello, my name is Sophia Hayes. I am from Lisbon, Portugal, and I am an actress. Hi, is your question. I want to ask Darren what is, in his opinion, the best attitude and strategy for a professional actor to while he’s not working? Yeah. Okay. What do you think their Hey.

Darren Darnborough: So it’s nice to see Sophia. Sophia is one of our long standing members on. We audition one of our international members, which is amazing. I love to see people like like I thrive. So what’s important for an action to do in a down really, is what we’re asking. I would say it’s really simple focus on on growth and focus on living life.

Darren Darnborough: Okay? And don’t overlook that. So growth, I mean, is there some training you can do, reading books or simply watching TV or. I personally have to watch documentaries as an actor because even though my craft creates narrative, when I watch a documentary, I’m seeing that real human experience and I enjoy learning, number one. But then I’m also subconsciously seeing the real way somebody reacts in a situation.

Darren Darnborough: So yeah, anything you can do to to grow your skillset both for acting and for life, whether it’s financial education or personally. I read a lot of self self-development books and listen to a lot of podcasts like the one we’re on right now, because I just think it gives me a brilliantly growth mindset and encouraged me to do other things.

Darren Darnborough: And then second thing I’m saying is live life, right? Don’t don’t let life pass you by because firstly that’s important. Just being healthy, being interested, having experiences like we spoke about earlier, which is important. But as an actor, if you haven’t experienced different levels of life, love and stress and grief and travel and culture, how are you going to play a fully rounded person in your next character?

Darren Darnborough: What ends up happening is you could only play the this the semi dimensional character of your own self over and over again, and then you would complain you got typecast. Okay. So it’s important to have right? It’s important to have cultural experiences because that’s what you’re going to draw from when you create these characters in your work.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I’m laughing because I think of Jason Bateman, who just plays himself into everything that he does feels like. And yet I love him so much. I love him, but it’s always Jason Bateman, and.

Darren Darnborough: I don’t think that’s bad because there’s people.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, no, I mean, I’m his biggest fan.

Darren Darnborough: That’s a difference between I play more characters, I’m more of a character actor. So my role looks very, very different. Get to work with different accents, different looks. Other people, when they’re leading roles, they do play a version themselves is interesting. Is that a leading role? Why did recently for a whole movie? Yes, I was a professional chef in the whole movie, but apart from that I just played myself.

Darren Darnborough: It was the most knits and my skin I never had in a row. It’s like, if I was a professional chef, this is how I would be. And I think there’s value to that as well.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So I always like to end with this question, and I it is my favorite question to ask, which is what is one question that no one has asked you in these interviews that you’ve done before that you really wish you could answer?

Darren Darnborough: I wish I would ask this and it’s this question. Can I offer you a different perspective? Because when I go back, when I come on interviews, it’s usually with very, very small, uninteresting people as the host and I. And this might be just me being selfish, but I really want to hear their side of things as well. And not just tell them my side because I do like my thoughts being challenged and that’s how I sort of develop new and interesting theories.

Darren Darnborough: And if you don’t challenge each other kindly, then I don’t think we grow. So I say, I’d love to give the answer to my question and then have to be like, Well, how about thinking about it like this? And then we can have a little debate and come to something more rich?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Goosen, I need to start following you and listening to you because I feel like I could grow as a person by being a fan of Darren. So thank you so much for your time today, answering all these questions so thoughtfully, sharing your experience with us, giving us an inside view into a world that I know a lot of people don’t have access to.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: It has been an absolute pleasure.

Darren Darnborough: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Thank you for tuning into culture leaders. I’m Dr. Jessica Kriegel, hoping you found inspiration in today’s story. If you enjoyed the episode, please leave a review and share your thoughts. And thanks for listening.

Voiceover: Please be sure to connect with Jessica and the show at Jessica There you’ll be able to see all the episodes and learn more about transforming culture at your organization. This episode is a culture partners production. Until next time, keep shaping a positive culture. Thanks for listening.


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