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  • Hannah Tattersall

Making their mark

Meet the stars reinventing themselves as entrepreneurs — and shifting the dial on a more ethical approach to doing business. By Hannah Tattersall.

Photography by Nina Westervelt/Getty images, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Steve Granitz.

When social media platforms enable us to see where our favourite stars are hanging out and what they’re wearing on any given day, the ability to transform oneself from an actor into a multifaceted persona adds another layer of appeal — and giddy fascination — for fans. And it’s not just women wanting to prove they have more going on behind the facade. Actors such as Robert De Niro, Ryan Gosling and Channing Tatum have gone into the hospitality industry, opening restaurants in the US. Nowadays, launching one’s own brand of whisky or gin is as de rigueur as putting a celebrity name on a perfume (even Kylie now has a signature rosé wine). 

For actors, transforming is part of their day job. But showing they have the wherewithal to remain relevant in consumers’ minds if the acting work dries up is certainly not a bad thing. What better way to ensure longevity in the fickle industry of Hollywood than to launch a side hustle or two? 

Read on for some of our favourite actors-turned-entrepreneurs proving there’s more to them than meets the eye.

Photography by Nina Westervelt/Getty images
Anya Taylor-Joy

For fans of 2020’s hit Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit”, it will come as no surprise to learn that lead actress Anya Taylor-Joy has a penchant for calculated moves. 

In the 1950s postwar drama, the British-American actress starred as Beth Harmon, an orphaned girl with a talent for chess. The show won the hearts of 62 million viewers globally during lockdowns. People stuck at home also became obsessed with the boardgame, with online retailer eBay claiming US sales of chess sets and accessories soared by almost 215 per cent during that time. 

Call it serendipitous (or downright savvy) that the actress, who most recently appeared in “Dune: Part Two”, is launching an eponymous lifestyle brand. Anya will encompass not only cosmetics bags, phone cases, stockings and suspenders, but also chess sets and other items reflecting the actor’s varied interests. 

Why should we care what Taylor-Joy has to spruik? The 27-year-old certainly has street cred. She’s been a fan favourite since she shot to fame in Robert Eggers’s 2015 period horror film, “The Witch”. Many will also be familiar with her work in British period crime drama “Peaky Blinders” (2013–2022), following which she become something of a luxury icon, starring in global campaigns for Dior, Tiffany & Co. and Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre.

Frequently snapped on the red carpet, Taylor-Joy could become a household name to rival Gwyneth Paltrow’s $250 million Goop brand. 

Born in Miami to British-Argentine parents and raised in Buenos Aires and London, Taylor-Joy spent her early years in Argentina, with Spanish as her mother tongue. She also developed a social conscience at a young age, becoming a vegetarian at age eight. She confirmed in a 2019 interview with Harper’s Bazaar that she eats a plant-based diet wherever possible. “I was vegan for a long time,” she said. “I got into it because it’s the most ecologically conscious choice you can make as a consumer.”

If her commitment to sustainability and her acting talent weren’t enough, during lockdown, Taylor-Joy also showed her hair and makeup prowess. Before the 2021 Critics’ Choice Awards, she Zoomed her team, who guided her through the looks, with makeup artist Georgie Eisdell gushing that “Anya is not only an extraordinarily talented actress, but incredibly talented when it comes to doing her own hair and makeup”.

And while she told Harper’s Bazaar Australia in 2022 that she feels more at ease in character than she does when asked to “be herself”, it’s more of her that fans appear to want. 

With so many strings to Taylor-Joy’s bow — eco warrior, makeup artist, award-winning actress and chessboard designer — chances are her gambit in the lifestyle arena will pay off.

Photography by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Michael B Jordan

Having Got his breakthrough playing quarterback Vince Howard in the 2006–2011 sports drama “Friday Night Lights” (after a small role in “The Wire”), Ryan Reynolds is another actor with passions beyond his day job. 

In December 2022, Jordan was announced as part-owner of English football club AFC Bournemouth, a professional association soccer club based in Dorset, England, known to fans as “the Cherries”. Jordan regularly travels to Dorset to watch training sessions and is part of a team designing a new kit for the players. 

Billionaire American businessman Bill Foley, who also owns AFC Bournemouth, described Jordan as “a very down-to-earth, common individual”. “He hasn’t got stars in his eyes. He loves football. 

“He is really helping us in terms of some of our international marketing and marketing in the US,” he told CBS.

Jordan, along with rapper Drake, has also joined the pickleball craze, investing in the Brooklyn Aces, a team that is part of Major League Pickleball (MLP). 

He also recently purchased a stake worth $325 million in the Formula 1 team Alpine Racing, along with Ryan Reynolds and others.

If that wasn’t enough to fill his time, the 37-year-old “Creed” and “Black Panther” star was just announced as luxury jewellery brand David Yurman’s new global brand ambassador and the face of Yurman’s first-ever men’s high jewellery collection, The Vault. 

From actor to soccer club owner to high jewellery model, Jordan has a knack for transformation that knows no bounds.

Photography by Monica Schipper/Getty Images

Selena Gomez 

You know those celebrities who seem to succeed in everything they touch? The multi-platinum-selling singer and actor (and close friend of Taylor Swift) Selena Gomez is one, having firmly established herself as a business leader in the $995 billion global beauty and personal care market. She launched cosmetics brand Rare Beauty in 2020 — a simple, modestly priced range of must-have beauty favourites that include volumising mascara, liquid blush and bronzer sticks. Aiming to “break down unrealistic standards of perfection” and promote self-acceptance and mental health awareness, the company was projected to make $462 million in sales last year. 

Rare Beauty has also leveraged Gomez’s popularity on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, where she has been open about her struggles with depression, bipolar disorder and lupus (she underwent a kidney transplant at age 24 due to lupus-related organ damage). While she builds her personal brand, Gomez is also committed to using her influence for a good cause. 

Younger fans would be familiar with Gomez’s work as an executive producer on the Netflix teen drama series “13 Reasons Why” (2017–2020), which shone a spotlight on teen suicide. Her more recent role in comedy-mystery series “Only Murders in the Building”, alongside comic greats Martin Short and Steve Martin, has seen her popularity extend to an even wider audience. 

Taking into account all of Gomez’s achievements, it’s hard to believe she is only 31. But for someone who began her career at age 10 on the children’s television series “Barney & Friends”, then rose to prominence as a teen on the Disney Channel sitcom “Wizards of Waverly Place”, the odds are she’s just getting started.

Noam Galai/Getty Images
Ryan Reynolds 

The Canadian star Ryan Reynolds has a lot more going on than simply being Blake Lively’s good-looking husband and the father of their four adorable children. Like other actors of his generation who are blurring the lines between actor and brand — think Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Mark Wahlberg — he has transformed himself into a savvy investor with a nose for a good business opportunity. 

In 2018, Reynolds acquired a stake in Aviation American Gin (which appears in his 2021 film “Red Notice”). He subsequently sold the company in 2020 to liquor juggernaut Diageo in a deal worth up to $846 million, reportedly netting as much as $170 million from the sale. 

The actor also has a 25 per cent stake in US phone company Mint Mobile, which T-Mobile bought in 2023 in a deal worth up to $2.03 billion. 

In 2020, alongside fellow actor Rob McElhenney, Reynolds bought the then little-known Welsh soccer team Wrexham Association Football Club. His move into sports investment has been well-documented in the series “Welcome to Wrexham”, which follows Reynolds and McElhenney’s journey as the new owners of Wrexham AFC, attempting to revitalise the club and in turn generating new popularity for the Welsh side. 

Last year, the duo teamed up with Michael B Jordan and other investors to buy a 24 per cent stake in the Alpine Formula 1 racing team, spurring further interest from F1 fans and Reynolds fans alike. 

It seems the actor — who shot to fame in films such as “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder” and “The In-Laws” before finding critical and commercial success in Marvel’s “Deadpool” film franchise — is on to a very good thing. 

Photography by Steve Granitz
Margot Robbie 

From Donna in “Neighbours” to the toast of Los Angeles, Australian star Margot Robbie has graced the screen in a range of roles, proving she’s something of a chameleon in the acting business. 

After her star turn alongside Hollywood veteran Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Robbie famously admitted to drinking a few shots of tequila prior to filming the sex scenes), she starred in a string of box office hits, including “The Big Short”, “Suicide Squad”, “I, Tonya”, “Bombshell” and, of course, “Barbie”. 

For the latter, the actress took home some $76 million in salary and bonuses. Not only did Robbie star in the blockbuster, but she also produced it under the banner of her production company, LuckyChap Entertainment. 

Founded in 2014 by the actress — along with her now-husband, Tom Ackerley, childhood friend Sophia Kerr and former roommate Josey McNamara — it focuses on women’s stories and roles for female actors that are as appealing as those that have traditionally been offered to men. Hence the outfit has also worked on productions like “Promising Young Woman”, “Maid” and the 2023 breakout Prime Video hit “Saltburn”, which became one of the streaming platform’s top 10 worldwide film debuts. The goal, says Robbie, is to keep the company at the top of filmmakers’ call lists for any projects that involve female protagonists or creators.

Away from acting, Robbie is keeping busy and staying true to her roots with the release of a gin created in collaboration with her husband and some friends. Papa Salt Coastal Gin was named after a Gold Coast man they met at a beach bar in Sri Lanka, who they felt was the perfect embodiment of the laidback Australian lifestyle.

Photography by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Idris Elba 

People Magazine’s 2018 Sexiest Man Alive, Idris Elba, first caught our attention as Stringer Bell in critically acclaimed HBO series “The Wire”, considered by many one of the best TV shows ever made. Since then, Elba has appeared in more high-profile films including “28 Weeks Later” and “American Gangster”, and landed titular roles in the BBC One series “Luther” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”. 

But Elba has shown there is more to him than what we see on the stage and screen. He is an ambassador for DSYF (Don’t Stop Your Future), an organisation that amplifies the voices of marginalised communities. Elba recently joined the call for more funding for youth services as part of a campaign to tackle youth knife violence in the United Kingdom, which rose by five per cent in the year to September 2023. “When the world is looking in on us, they’re thinking: ‘[England] must have a tolerance for knife crime.’ And we don’t, we shouldn’t,” Elba told The Guardian. 

When he’s not acting or fighting crime, Elba is designing apparel for his yet-to-launch clothing line, Eve of Winston, or working with his wife, model Sabrina Dhowre Elba, on their skincare line, S’ABLE Labs, created specifically to care for melanated skin. Sourcing ingredients from rural communities in 54 nations, S’ABLE Labs not only uses natural resources from Africa, but supports sustainable practices too. Its products are designed to have minimal impact on the planet. The company has also partnered with charity Farm Africa, which helps farmers build their incomes while maintaining natural resources. S’ABLE Labs is pledging five per cent of profits to the initiative — proving that business and ethics do mix. 

This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our eleventh edition, Page 36 of Winning Magazine with the headline: “Making their mark”. Subscribe to Winning Magazine today.  


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