Entrepreneurs Who Shaped the Entertainment Industry

by Megan Sanborn

American culture has been widely affected by entrepreneurs and their accomplishments. These three entrepreneurs have been profoundly influential in shaping how brands are presented and how America thrives on a profitable business through movies, television, and music.

Walt Disney

The fact that Walt Disney started his career by sketching shorts in his garage makes his success story all the more admirable. After a series of mildly popular cartoon shorts featuring Mickey Mouse, Disney licensed the mouse for a mere 300 dollars.

The innovator was also the first to see potential in Technicolor and future length films, and his first feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, was a giant step forward in the popularity of colored animated films.

Over the course of his career, he won 26 Academy Awards, and is seen as one of America’s most prolific entrepreneurs. His actions changed the film industry and he paved the way for other filmmakers to have a voice in American society.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey became a cultural icon in the 1980’s due to her television talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. Her fortune is admired and reveled by many, and her climb towards the top was quite the journey. Her empire has only expanded throughout the years due to her wise choices as a businesswoman.

In 1988, she founded her own production company, Harpo Studios. The company employs over hundreds of people to publish books, TV shows, and online articles. Her magazine, O Magazine, is also considered one of the greatest start-ups of all time, and is one of the top women magazines to date.

Winfrey has been involved with philanthropies, movies, and productions, and yet the brand continues to grow along with her evolving status as an icon in our culture.

Simon Cowell

Many people believe that the start of Simon Cowell’s career began in 2002 with his stint as the snippy judge on American Idol. However, when he was 30 years old, he was already a successful record producer, acting as the A&R Consultant for the BMG UK record company.

In 2002, Cowell created S Records and signed two successful previous contestants on his first reality television show, Pop Idol. He then sold his half-share of this record company to BMG for 42 million dollars, thus making him a multi-millionaire overnight.

After building a production company, Syco, he began to publish his own books and television shows. Two such shows, X-Factor and America’s Got Talent, have risen to popularity and emulated mass success for Cowell and his team.

His demeanor may have defined pop culture in the early 2000s’, but Cowell will forever remain a part of our modern day society due to his contributions to music and television.

The choice to pursue a business degree with an entrepreneurship emphasis is not necessary in order to build a brand, and that is evident based on the wild successes of many personalities in our society. Wendy Adams, an assistant professor at the George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics, sees the business degree as a credible benefit for any aspiring businessperson.

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