“Don’t Feel Like You Have To Be Leonardo DiCaprio or Bust”, Words of Wisdom with Andy Mizrahi
“It’s such a major issue because people with mental health disorders probably feel alone. They may not even know that they have it because the media does a good job of hiding it. We all want representation of ourselves on the screen. I think showcasing mental health could save lives by raising awareness.”
I had the pleasure to interview Andy Mizrahi, Comedian & People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive: Andy is a comedian from NYC and now in Los Angeles who uses comedy and humor to spread positive messages in society. He was recently named Tinder’s Most Swiped Right Guy on the East Coast, Was 2015 People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue, co-starred with Andy Cohen on Fox’s Love Connection.
What is your “backstory”?
I’m a film/commercial producer as well as a comedian/TV Personality.
I come from a small town beach town in Jew Jersey with nobody who worked in the entertainment industry.
I grew up my whole life being told entertainment is a big “no no” because it’s so unattainable.
I launched my second startup film production company four years ago in order to spend my days getting better at my craft .
At the same time, I was performing stand up and some YouTube web comedy.
I got married and divorced by the age of 23–25.
Instead of allowing the dark times to take over, I took the new chance at singledom to work my ass off in my career.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
After years of producing comedic work and commercials, I was launched into a career as a dating expert after discovering I’d been selected for People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive for being the most swiped guy on Tinder in my state.
I did not sign up for this contest, I barely used the app. And after praying hard on the high holidays it happened.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Are you working on any meaningful non profit projects?
I’m currently producing a short film about a woman with psychosis. We believe that mental health is something to be taken seriously and we hope our film can be viewed by many, and have an impact on the cause.
Can you tell me a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
People are just gravitating towards this material because of the subject matter.
It’s a tough challenge to overcome mental health stigma because most people are afraid to discuss it out of fear of possibly “catching it.” It’s such a major issue because people with mental health disorders probably feel alone. They may not even know that they have it because the media does a good job of hiding it.
We all want representation of ourselves on the screen. I think showcasing mental health could save lives by raising awareness.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. The people who love you most can be the biggest detractors for your career.
I was going to perform stand up comedy in high school for the first time. Nobody had ever done so and succeeded. My school was a bunch of tough wise cracking kids.
If they did not like it, you would know right away.
I told one of my best friends at the time I was going to do it.
He told me not to, big mistake, very scary idea.
I went through with it anyway.
It ended up being one of my best performances I ever had, and had the faculty and students quoting my routine to me for the next month.
Thus giving me the confidence to start my journey towards show business.
Now, had I listened to my best friend who was looking out for me, my life would be a very different place.
2. Find the biggest people in your industry to see how they are, who they are, how they act, do I fit in.
Story example: I grew up in NJ. I moved back mid twenties and tried to make it as a comic there.
I realized over time that a small town is a place to leave if there are no experts there. Or few.
I went to LA and saw the best in the world connected to movies, TV, press, and representation. Like nothing. When I got to LA, I saw my favorite actors. They looked human. And the scene around me? Felt like I was home for the first time.
3. The entertainment industry has countless types of specific jobs that you can find your niche within. Don’t feel like you have to be Leonardo DiCaprio or bust.
My parents used to be tough on me about my career. They used to say, “everybody wants to be an actor.” The truth is in Hollywood, that is not the case. And even if they do, it may not be the same type of actor that you want to be.
Some people want to just write or shoot, or produce.
And actors: I had an actor friend who just wanted to be a WB TV actress. Whereas I wanted to be more of a quirky friend in a show like Community or Parks and Rec.
4. Entertainment industry: the people at the bottom, your earliest gate keepers, can be the most self centered, egotistical, art less, selfish people you can meet, and the higher up you go, the more amazing the people are.
Early 20’s, I was producing a reality show pilot.
I pitched it to some producer in NYC at his company’s office.
The guy was so arrogant. He thought he was the most brilliant man. He destroys my reality pilot, says it’s fake. He says he wants to do something real.
He then pitched me his own show, which was also fake. Claimed he was going to send it to his connection at Spike TV.
Basically, he wanted my young team to produce his show for free, he gets all the credit, and maybe I would get something.
Next: a woman producing a community comedy show sent me a YouTube video that went viral, and says to copy it for their show. Not write something, blatantly steal it, and told the others to do the same.
I was the only one to stand up and say it has to be original.
5. Talent is nothing compared to how hard you work.
I was in film school and all these know it all students with their previous camera work, maybe a false sense of the industry, maybe they were major film buffs used to walk around with their chests out.
I came in with much less, and just made it a mission to get better little by little every day by producing as much work as I could.
Ten years later I’m probably one of the few in my graduating class who is in the industry. And I started with nothing.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, or I might be able to introduce you.
The man’s body of work has spoken to me since I was 5 years old.
I remember seeing “Hook” in the theaters. I Was five. I’ve seen it so many times it amazes me. Had it on VHS, DVD, Netflix. Last year I saw it in a theater playing it in Manhattan with my brother. We both walked out with tears in our eyes. I’m 30 for the record.
I wrote a book report on him in the 2nd grade. I was in the library with my mom and we were looking at different kids books to do book reports on. Presidents, basketball players, and then my mom told me about Steven Speilberg. A Jewish guy who made movies. Movies like Jaws, and ET, and even my favorite, Hook.
I was just so fascinated by him.
I had no idea I wanted to be in the industry.
All I knew is that the feeling I got from his movies in my small town were so inspirational. It just jumped out on me. Made me want to just be part of it in some way.
The use of music, the closeups, the simplicity. I just want to meet him and say thank you, and I hope to add to the legacy.