Jennifer Levinson Has Harnessed Social Media to Break Out in Hollywood

This story was initially printed in The Creators — a publication in regards to the individuals powering the creator economic system. Get it despatched to your inbox.
In the 2016 movie LaLa Land, the aspiring actress performed by Emma Stone leap begins her profession by writing, producing and starring in her personal play.Jennifer Levinson has executed one thing very related, however as an alternative of performing in entrance of a handful of theater-goers, she received her break by performing in entrance of thousands and thousands on social media.After years of showing on YouTube and SnapChat, Levinson, 30, is now the author and producer (in addition to a performer) in Trust, a brand new feature-length film distributed by Menemsha Films. She additionally hosts a present on Instagram and TikTok for Romwe, a Chinese trend firm owned by Shein.Born and raised in Los Angeles, Levinson studied theater at Chapman University earlier than working in social media. She credit her social media following with propelling her profession, which has additionally included filming commercials for Marriott and promotional movies for Sony Pictures.The Observer talked to Levinson over Zoom from her residence in L.A. This interview has been edited for size and readability.Observer: How did you get began in social media?Jennifer Levinson: After faculty I used to be in a bunch of BuzzFeed movies and form of received branded as a character by way of BuzzFeed.How did you find yourself on BuzzFeed’s movies? 
I used to be pursuing performing and realized it was unimaginable. And my boyfriend on the time had a job that I wished. So I used to be like, if I aid you get a job at BuzzFeed, can I take your job? So I helped him get this job at BuzzFeed and since he was working there I ended up (in the movies). It began with one video after which they began placing me in a ton of movies. The BuzzFeed movies that I ended up being in would get thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of views, however I’m simply certainly one of many individuals on these movies. So my first thought was like, how can I flip this into one thing that may pay my payments whereas I pursue the artistic stuff, like performing proper, writing and producing?
Can you describe what was occurring in these movies?
I might say they’re very low forehead. A whole lot of them have been actuality movies, like {couples} attempt on make-up or boyfriend vs. girlfriend-type movies. But then I additionally tried to do some extra scripted stuff and that form of was a stepping stone for me to then get into my very own scripted stuff. There’s a present on Snapchat known as Solve. And after doing a bunch of Buzzfeed movies, I despatched a spec script to Solve and was ready to get a workers author job on that Snapchat present. Tell me about your Romwe present.
So I am going on digicam as soon as per week and speak in regards to the garments and speak to their viewers. They have 2 million followers.Before that I used to be doing social media advertising for a manufacturing firm and about to go into manufacturing on my first characteristic. And then I received this gig and it’s as soon as per week and has allowed me to do all the manufacturing and performing I need to do. 
What are the necessities of you? How lengthy does it take for you to do that? 
I’ve an entire lighting setup and a digicam package deal they despatched me and I’ve to storyboard every part. Sometimes I assist solid different fashions or individuals to be on the present. And then it’s a number of hours each Monday evening, which is the prep time and the present itself. Throughout the week we’re doing brainstorming periods and issues of that kind. How did all this lead to you making a characteristic movie?My coronary heart’s in scripted content material. So I began producing some shorts for enjoyable simply to get content material on the market. And I ended up getting observed by Tribeca in 2020 which is a big, actually famend movie competition. They accepted me into their N.O.W. Creator’s Market, which mainly gave me a chance to exhibit all of the content material I’ve been engaged on and pitch to completely different networks and producers. And I had this brief proof of idea, known as Trust, which is tremendous off-brand for the kinds of content material I used to be making on the time. But it’s mainly about three siblings reconciling over their mother’s suicide. I introduced that to Tribeca with a characteristic script and I received actually nice suggestions on it after which the world shut down (due to Covid). I used to be like, proper, I want to make this characteristic, I can’t simply sit right here or I’m gonna lose my thoughts. So took the laurels I received from Tribeca and began simply pitching to each single individual I’ve ever made eye contact with and ended up elevating like $200,000 in fairness investments. We shot the characteristic in 2021 and we at the moment are utterly executed with put up manufacturing and we simply secured distribution.How are you utilizing social media now to advance your profession? Or have you ever moved previous it? 
No, it’s positively one thing I nonetheless leverage in other ways. On Romwe, I actually don’t assume I might’ve been solid as a bunch on their platform if it weren’t for the social media.I’m continually attempting to discover methods to do offers. I simply partnered with Amazon to do an Instagram reel and that paid my hire for a month. I do know that my following isn’t the most important, however as a result of I’m so particular with the manufacturers I work with, I’m ready to get a big sum of money for a singular put up as a result of I don’t simply take each single deal.How do you see your social media presence serving to develop or promote your films?
I’ve tried to doc every part on social your entire approach and tried to already begin increase that presence. The man who performs my brother, Heston (Horwin), he blew up on TikTok. He has like 270,000 followers. So mainly attempting to get all of the solid to be concerned as a lot as doable and all of the crew to be concerned as a lot as doable.
Do you’ve got any sense of who follows you on social media? 
Yeah, so it’s a bizarre mishmosh of former BuzzFeed individuals after which Romwe followers and random males. I really made a YouTube video some time in the past known as Dick Pic Fail as a result of I used to be getting so many dick images despatched to me on Snapchat.
Ugh, I’m sorry to hear that.
Yeah. But the video did effectively. On Snapchat, I believe my followings now round 100 thousand followers however I’ve used it much less due to these kinds of images, however I positively plan on actually leveraging that fan base when the film is out. 
I assume so long as they purchase tickets.
Exactly. I’m not going to open their messages to me anymore. I’ll simply maintain posting.

This interview was initially printed in The Creators, a publication in regards to the individuals powering the creator economic system. Get it in your inbox earlier than it’s on-line.

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