From The Entertainment Industry, Tech Startup Journey, An Interview With Harlem’s Jonathan Browne

April 19, 2024

Harlem-born Jonathan Browne founded Project Casting, an Atlanta-based platform linking individuals to entertainment industry roles in acting and production.

With over 500,000 professionals in the TV, film, and entertainment industry plugged into the Project Casting network, users can find acting, modeling, voiceover, and production jobs across the country and in select international areas.

Some of the productions that have opportunities on the Project Casting platform include Netflix, Marvel, Paramount, Tyler Perry Studios, Warner Bros Studios, and more. In addition to being an online casting and production job platform, Project Casting also serves as a source with the ability to utilize its data to give information and tips, predict and demonstrate trends, and provide an overall look at opportunities in the entertainment industry. 

Browne got his start in the entertainment industry at Tyler Perry Studios before becoming a self-taught tech entrepreneur and combining his two passions into one company that provides real solutions. Additionally, Browne recently developed an AI screenwriting platform called Livy AI, which is recognized by NVIDIA, a company that is currently the world’s leader in artificial intelligence technology. 

Here’s an interview with Mr. Browne in Atlanta:

Harlem World Magazine: Can you share the inspiration behind founding Project Casting and how it has evolved since its inception in 2012?

Jonathan Browne: The inspiration behind founding Project Casting was the realization of how many talented individuals were missing out on opportunities simply because they didn’t have the right connections or resources.

We saw a need for a more inclusive platform that could serve as a bridge between hidden talents and the entertainment industry. Since its inception, Project Casting has evolved significantly. We started with a focus on casting calls and auditions, but quickly expanded to include a wide range of services, including talent development, industry networking, and educational resources.

Our technology has advanced, enabling us to offer a more seamless and efficient experience for both talent and casting professionals. Throughout this journey, our core mission has remained the same: to democratize access to opportunities in the entertainment industry and empower individuals to pursue their passions.

Harlem World Magazine: With over 500,000 users worldwide, Project Casting has become a significant platform in the entertainment industry. What sets it apart from other casting platforms, and how do you ensure its effectiveness for both talent and productions?

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JB: What distinguishes Project Casting from other platforms is our holistic approach to the entertainment industry. We don’t just connect talent with opportunities; we nurture a community where individuals can grow, learn, and thrive. Our platform is enriched with resources and tools designed to help talents enhance their skills and understand the industry better.

With over 500,000 users globally, we leverage a vast network that benefits both talent and production. Our technology-driven approach allows us to match the right talent with the right projects efficiently, using data analytics and AI to streamline the casting process. This not only enhances the user experience but also increases the success rate of productions finding the ideal cast.

Furthermore, we prioritize inclusivity and diversity, ensuring that opportunities are accessible to a wide range of talents, from newcomers to seasoned professionals. Our team continuously works on improving the platform, taking feedback from users to make Project Casting more user-friendly, efficient, and effective. We believe in creating lasting relationships within the industry, and that’s why both talents and productions trust and prefer our platform. Joining Project Casting means becoming part of a forward-thinking community that’s reshaping the entertainment landscape.

HWM: Could you elaborate on how Project Casting utilizes data to provide quantitative insights into the entertainment industry and explain trends? What notable trends have you observed recently?

JB: At Project Casting, we harness the power of data to deliver quantitative insights that are crucial for understanding the dynamics of the entertainment industry. By analyzing data from our platform, including user interactions, casting call responses, and market trends, we provide actionable intelligence for both talents and productions. This data-driven approach helps in identifying what types of roles are in demand, predicting industry shifts, and understanding the evolving preferences of both talents and audiences.

For example, we track the popularity of different genres and roles over time, allowing us to identify emerging trends. Recently, we’ve observed a significant rise in demand for diverse and inclusive roles, reflecting broader cultural shifts towards representation and equity in entertainment. Additionally, there’s been an increase in opportunities for digital content creators, signaling the growing impact of streaming platforms and social media on traditional media landscapes.

Another trend is the rise of remote and virtual casting processes, a shift accelerated by the pandemic but clearly here to stay, demonstrating the industry’s adaptability and the importance of digital platforms like Project Casting. By providing these insights, we empower our users with the knowledge to make informed decisions and stay ahead in the ever-evolving entertainment industry.

HWM: Project Casting has been instrumental in providing opportunities during challenging times, such as last year’s writer and actors strikes. How did your platform adapt to these changes, and what role did data play in guiding your decisions?

JB: During the writer and actors strikes last year, Project Casting played a pivotal role in adapting to the industry’s changing landscape. We understood that these challenges required innovative solutions to continue providing opportunities for our community. One of the key adaptations was the integration of AI tools, like Livy.AI, which empowered creators to generate content even amidst industry disruptions. This AI-powered platform facilitated the creative process, enabling writers and producers to develop scripts and storylines, thus keeping the creative flow active.

We also shifted our focus towards independent content creators, streamers, and producers, recognizing the growing significance of alternative media and digital platforms. By leveraging data, we were able to identify and target these emerging opportunities, guiding our users to untapped markets and helping them pivot to new forms of content production.

Data played a crucial role in our decision-making process, providing insights into which sectors were thriving and what types of content were gaining popularity. This allowed us to strategically position our platform and our users to capitalize on these trends, ensuring that talent remained engaged and productive, even in times of industry uncertainty. The ability to quickly adapt and innovate, backed by solid data analysis, enabled Project Casting to support our community effectively during those challenging times.

HWM: You recently developed an AI screenwriting platform called Livy AI, recognized by NVIDIA. Can you tell us more about this innovative tool and how it is revolutionizing the screenwriting process?

JB: Livy AI is a groundbreaking development in the field of screenwriting, and we’re thrilled to have it recognized by an industry leader like NVIDIA. As the first Long Form Content Generative AI platform, Livy AI represents a significant leap forward in content creation. It’s designed to write up to 80 pages of screenplay content in about 15 minutes, which is a game-changer in terms of efficiency and productivity.

What makes Livy AI so revolutionary is its ability to produce content that is not only fast and efficient but also engaging, unique, and of high quality. Traditional screenwriting can be a time-consuming process, often taking weeks or even months to complete a single script. Livy AI, on the other hand, accelerates this process dramatically, improving efficiency by 99% compared to traditional methods.

The technology behind Livy AI uses advanced AI algorithms and machine learning models to understand narrative structures, character development, and genre-specific storytelling elements. This ensures that the generated content is coherent, compelling, and ready for production. Screenwriters and producers can use Livy AI to generate initial drafts quickly, which they can then refine and enhance, saving valuable time and resources.

In essence, Livy AI is not just a tool for writing scripts; it’s a comprehensive platform that supports the creative process, allowing writers and filmmakers to focus more on the creative aspects of storytelling while leaving the heavy lifting to AI. This is how we’re revolutionizing the screenwriting process at Project Casting, staying at the forefront of technological innovation in the entertainment industry.

HWM: As a self-taught tech entrepreneur with a background in the entertainment industry, how do you balance your dual passions and expertise in both fields within Project Casting and Livy AI?

JB: Balancing my dual passions and expertise in both technology and the entertainment industry has been a journey of continuous learning and adaptation. My entrepreneurial path, which began out of necessity during the 2010 housing recession, has taught me the importance of resilience and innovation. After completing my MBA and facing the harsh reality of unemployment, I deeply understood the struggles of finding work and the impact of economic downturns on one’s ability to provide for their family.

This personal experience fueled my commitment to help others, leading to the creation of Project Casting. I aimed to make the entertainment industry more accessible and provide opportunities for those who, like myself at one point, found it challenging to break into their desired field. With Project Casting, I’ve been able to combine my knowledge of the entertainment industry with my passion for technology, creating a platform that empowers individuals to pursue their dreams in film and television.

The development of Livy AI is an extension of this mission. It represents the intersection of my expertise in tech and entertainment, offering a tool that democratizes the screenwriting and movie-making process. Livy AI is about giving creators the power to tell their stories, irrespective of their background or experience in the industry.

In essence, my journey has been about leveraging my experiences and passions to create solutions that not only address my own challenges but also those faced by others. By integrating technology with the creative process, both Project Casting and Livy AI embody my commitment to innovation and support for aspiring talents in the entertainment industry.

HWM: Project Casting boasts a significant presence on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, with over 400,000 combined followers. How do you leverage social media to engage with your audience and promote opportunities?

JB: Social media is a powerful tool for engagement and promotion, and at Project Casting, we’ve harnessed its potential to create a strong community and foster opportunities. With over 400,000 combined followers on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, we’ve built a significant presence that allows us to connect directly with our audience.

We leverage social media to showcase the diverse range of opportunities available on our platform, from casting calls to auditions and industry events. Our approach is to create content that is not only informative but also inspiring and relatable, which resonates with our followers and encourages them to take action. We share success stories, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and testimonials from our users, which help to humanize our brand and build trust with our community.

This two-way communication helps us understand our audience’s needs and preferences, enabling us to tailor our offerings and improve our services.

Moreover, we use social media analytics to track engagement and measure the effectiveness of our campaigns. This data-driven approach informs our strategies and helps us optimize our content to ensure maximum reach and impact.

In summary, our social media presence is integral to Project Casting’s strategy, allowing us to engage with our audience, promote opportunities, and build a supportive community that empowers talent across the globe.

HWM: What advice would you give to aspiring actors, models, and content creators looking to break into the industry, based on your experience and insights gained through Project Casting?

JB: For aspiring actors, models, and content creators, the landscape of the entertainment industry has evolved significantly, and the traditional pathways to success are no longer the only routes to take. My advice, based on the insights gained through Project Casting, is to be proactive and take control of your career trajectory. Here are some key points to consider:

Create Your Own Content: In today’s digital age, the power to create and share content is at your fingertips. Use this to your advantage by creating your own projects, whether it’s through filming short films, starting a YouTube channel, or showcasing your talent on social media platforms. This not only hones your skills but also builds your portfolio and online presence.

Leverage Social Currency: It’s essential to build a network and foster connections, not just within the industry but also with your audience. Your social currency—how well-known and respected you are within your community—can be just as valuable as your talent. Engage with your followers, collaborate with other creators, and participate in online and offline communities to expand your reach and influence.

Be Persistent and Resilient: The journey to success in the entertainment industry can be challenging and filled with rejection. It’s crucial to stay persistent and resilient, learning from each experience and continuously improving. Don’t wait for opportunities to find you; actively seek them out, and don’t be afraid to take risks and step outside your comfort zone.

Utilize Platforms Like Project Casting: Take advantage of casting platforms like Project Casting to find opportunities that match your skills and interests. These platforms can provide valuable exposure and connect you with casting directors and producers looking for talent.

Stay Informed and Adapt: The entertainment industry is constantly changing, with new trends and technologies shaping the way content is created and consumed. Stay informed about industry developments and be willing to adapt your approach to keep up with the times.

In conclusion, the key to breaking into the industry is to actively create opportunities for yourself, build your network and online presence, and remain adaptable to the ever-changing landscape of the entertainment world

HWM: What advice do you have for someone who’d like to follow in your footsteps as a self-taught tech entrepreneur?

JB: Becoming a successful self-taught tech entrepreneur is a journey of passion, curiosity, and relentless pursuit of solutions. Here’s the advice I’d give to anyone looking to follow in this path:

Be Obsessed with Problem-Solving: The heart of entrepreneurship lies in identifying problems and creating solutions. Develop an obsession with understanding the nuances of challenges you encounter and think creatively about how to solve them. This mindset will not only lead to innovative solutions but also help you identify opportunities that others might overlook.

Network and Take Meetings: Building a strong network is invaluable. Take every opportunity to meet with people from different backgrounds and industries. These interactions can provide new perspectives, insights, and opportunities for collaboration. Networking isn’t just about expanding your contact list; it’s about building relationships and learning from others’ experiences.

Commit to Continuous Learning: The tech industry is dynamic, with constant innovations and changes. Committing to lifelong learning is crucial. This doesn’t just mean formal education; it also involves staying updated with the latest trends, technologies, and market needs. Utilize online resources, attend workshops and seminars, and never stop expanding your knowledge and skills.

Embrace Failure as a Learning Tool: On your entrepreneurial journey, you will face setbacks and failures. Instead of viewing these as defeats, see them as opportunities to learn and grow. Analyze what went wrong, what you can improve, and how you can better prepare for the future. Resilience in the face of failure is a hallmark of successful entrepreneurs.

Start Small and Scale Gradually: Begin with manageable projects or ideas that you can execute effectively. This allows you to test concepts, learn from the process, and build a foundation for scaling your ventures in the future.

Focus on Value Creation: Always aim to create value with your products or services. Understanding the needs of your target audience and delivering solutions that meet those needs is key to building a sustainable business.

By embracing these principles, you can navigate the challenging yet rewarding path of a self-taught tech entrepreneur. Remember, the journey is as important as the destination, and every experience along the way is a stepping stone to your success.

HWM: With the entertainment industry constantly evolving, what do you envision for the future of Project Casting and Livy AI? Are there any upcoming developments or expansions we can look forward to?

JB: The future of Project Casting and Livy AI is incredibly exciting, with a clear vision focused on leveraging AI to revolutionize the entertainment industry and beyond. For Project Casting, we are committed to continuously enhancing the hiring process through AI tools. These innovations are designed to make the casting and talent discovery process even more efficient and effective. Our aim is to streamline the complexities of hiring in the entertainment industry, ensuring a seamless and intuitive experience for both talent and producers.

As for Livy AI, our focus is expanding into AI-generated videos, which represents a significant leap forward in content creation. This development will enable creators to produce high-quality video content with minimal effort, revolutionizing the way stories are told and consumed. Beyond this, we are also creating tools tailored for small businesses, empowering them to gain traction faster. This includes advanced blogging, commercial script writing, and filmmaking tools, all powered by AI. These tools are designed to democratize content creation, making it accessible and manageable for businesses of all sizes to engage their audiences effectively.

“… Our goal is … to be at the forefront of driving that change.”

Looking ahead, we are exploring more innovative ways to integrate AI into different aspects of content creation and industry operations. Our goal is not only to keep pace with the evolving landscape of the entertainment industry but to be at the forefront of driving that change. With these developments, we anticipate setting new standards in how talent is discovered, content is created, and stories are shared. The future for Project Casting and Livy AI is about breaking barriers, fostering creativity, and empowering individuals and businesses to achieve their full potential in the digital age.

HWM: How can individuals and organizations best utilize Project Casting and Livy AI to navigate and thrive in the ever-changing landscape of the entertainment industry?

JB: To navigate and thrive in the dynamic landscape of the entertainment industry, individuals and organizations can leverage the capabilities of Project Casting and Livy AI in several strategic ways:

For Individuals (Actors, Models, Content Creators)

Engage Actively with Project Casting: Regularly update profiles, apply for roles that match your skills and interests, and use the platform’s resources to improve your craft and understand market trends.

Utilize Livy AI for Content Creation: Harness Livy AI to generate scripts, explore storytelling ideas, or create promotional content for personal branding. This tool can provide a starting point for creative projects, saving time and sparking innovation.

Build and Showcase a Diverse Portfolio: Use these platforms to create a varied body of work that demonstrates your range and adaptability. This can be an invaluable asset in an industry that values versatility.

For Organizations (Production Companies, Casting Agencies, Independent Filmmakers)

Streamline Casting and Talent Discovery: Project Casting offers a vast pool of talent and sophisticated search tools, making it easier to find the perfect match for any project, reducing time and cost in the casting process.

Adopt Livy AI for Pre-Production and Development: Utilize Livy AI to expedite scriptwriting and content development phases, allowing for more focus on production quality and creative direction.

Embrace AI for Market Research and Trend Analysis: Use the data-driven insights provided by these platforms to understand audience preferences, predict market trends, and make informed decisions on future projects.

For Both Individuals and Organizations

Stay Informed and Adapt to Technological Advances: The entertainment industry is rapidly evolving, especially with the integration of AI and digital media. Staying updated on these trends and being adaptable to new technologies will be key to remaining competitive.

Leverage Networking and Collaboration Opportunities: Project Casting and Livy AI can facilitate connections within the industry, offering networking opportunities that can lead to collaborations, mentorships, and partnerships.

Invest in Continuous Learning and Development: Both platforms offer resources and insights that can aid in skill enhancement and professional growth. Taking advantage of these can lead to better opportunities and success in the industry.

By effectively utilizing Project Casting and Livy AI, individuals and organizations can not only navigate the complexities of the entertainment industry but also position themselves to capitalize on emerging opportunities and lead the way in innovation and creativity.

HWM: What’s your favorite place in Harlem? Where do you like to Eat in Harlem? Where do you like to shop in Harlem?

JB: Harlem holds a special place in my heart, and it’s always a nostalgic experience to return. Corpus Christi Elementary School, in particular, played a significant role in shaping who I am today, instilling in me the values of community and the importance of giving back. This is why it’s one of my favorite places in Harlem, a reminder of where my journey began.

When it comes to eating, I have fond memories of the M&G Diner. It was more than just a place to eat; it was a community hub where we would hang out after school and share stories. Though it’s closed now, those memories remain vivid. Nowadays, I enjoy visiting the Olive Tree Deli & Grill Market, formerly known as the Corner Deli store. It’s not just about the food, but the connection to my childhood and the sense of community it brings.

“… Harlem’s dynamic spirit and resilience, which resonates deeply with me …”

Shopping in Harlem is always a unique experience, especially along 125th Street. The transformation over the years, particularly with investments like those from Magic Johnson, has been remarkable. Walking through the area, seeing the vibrant shops and the blend of old and new, is always a highlight of my visits. It’s a reflection of Harlem’s dynamic spirit and resilience, which resonates deeply with me.

HWM: What great information and great memories, thank you.

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