The entertainment industry is changing, and so are the people within it. Gone are the days where actors and others did just one thing, and now the ones with a passion for different areas of their craft have emerged to great success.
Michael Fishman, star actor from the hit ABC television series, The Conners (formerly known as Roseanne), is proof of this. While he is an actor, he is also a director and producer who just launched his own company Mclusive Media to help others tell their stories and get on the screen.
- Why have you been able to be so successful in the entertainment industry since you started?
Relentlessness, everything starts with a willingness to show up, to face setbacks, tackle challenges, all without losing enthusiasm. I love the entertainment industry. I love being on set. My passion for collaborating, respect of everyone, and boundless enthusiasm defines my career. Everyday I show up prepared, Strong, Calm, Kind, ready to do great work.
- What trends in your space – entertainment – do you see happening in the near future?
The personalization of entertainment has already begun. Streaming channels, social media, internet platforms, they have all allowed audiences to reach content that resonates with them, wherever they are in their busy lives
With this in mind my production company centers around sharing authentic, visceral stories, from diverse perspectives as complex as the world we live in. We are raising inclusion and representation to build communities.
- What has been your biggest hurdle as an actor?
Honestly, I don’t know if it is a hurdle, I am actually excited that despite over three decades of experience, the world hasn’t quite seen my full depth yet. People have seen flashes of my ability. Growing up on Roseanne I did a lot of physical comedy, on The Conners my character, DJ Conner is complex and constantly morphing. From silly, to innocent, to conflicted, afflicted with PTSD, to heartbroken and defiant like I was Halloween for season 3. Week to week it varies. I love the opportunities. While most of DJ’s storylines have been secondary, which means a lot of great work hasn’t made it on air due to time constraints, I continue to grow as a performer
My life and experience is deeper than the moments that have been shared with the world to date. That is exhilarating as an actor. I am primed to do great work, but I am in a rare position that with over thirty years of experience, I can still do and be anything. The right opportunities are coming, I have a huge supportive fan base, I have seen what the pinnacle of the business is like, and I am ready to utilize my depth, empathy, strength, physicality, athleticism, and professionalism.
- You also just launched your own production company. Tell us more!
Mclusive Media is a multi-faceted inclusive production company designed to create groundbreaking original content. We are passionate about telling heartfelt stories with characters and situations as diverse as the society we live in. We have a vast library of content that cuts across all genres and demographics. Mclusive is looking for the right partnerships for our television, film, unscripted, documentaries, and alternative media projects.
I am extremely excited about our television projects. My passion for military families, fueled by my own family, has compelled us to write a sitcom. It takes a very real, honest look, at tough issues that face military families, but through the prism of humor and community. We have two truly epic projects. One a diverse western, a true survival story with social awareness and great twists. The second is a female led action adventure, she is the hero her world needs, yet faces misogyny, corruption, and monarchial systems designed to hold people down.
I have a number of other sitcoms. At their core they are all about family, community, and inclusion. It might surprise people though I write a lot of dramas too. We have procedural dramas that include an adoption drama, a buddy cop show, dark detective story, medical drama, political espionage, and sci-fi adventure. With production experience in unscripted shows from my technical career we were asked by companies to created a few contestant shows, game shows, and unique social experiment ideas.
Our film horizon is equally as bright. We are finalizing a deal for an important documentary about immigrants and refugees. My Dad immigrated to the United States, and we have an exclusive partnership to share stories so harrowing, yet uplifting of individuals escaping genocide, religious persecution, or oppressive governments from around the world.
We are looking for the right combination to bring to life a truly epic heist film with twists no one has done to date. The majority of our films though are heartfelt underdog stories that move people. I write quite a bit of action, but I really weave stories of people, family, or community to build authentic heartfelt worlds. We have a psychological thriller, a realistic horror, and a monster movie that will scare people out of the water like Jaws did. Yet maybe my favorite film is a coming of age story about a young kid, from a bad neighborhood, who finds the most unlikely place to belong, through sports. Utilizing my coaching experience, it really is about inclusion, finding support, and overcoming fear to grow into a stronger version of oneself.
- What advice would you give others wanting to either get into acting or start their own entertainment-based company?
Start by following your passion. Use your strengths and what you know. Then seek knowledge and experience in the areas that might not be your strength. Start studying the business. Anything you want to go into, it helps to have knowledge of.
As an actor you likely need backup skills or an alternative income source. Every actor goes through quiet periods, so have alternative skills that give you flexibility but keep you in the game until you get that big break. Once you get an opportunity, be professional. Divas work short term but our business is about collaboration. Start creating some of your own opportunities or content. Your voice is unique, empower it.
If you want to start a company, do your research and get your paperwork right. Make sure you have trusted advice, then form a company. Then you have to decide are you a content creator or financier? Usually in the beginning you are only one. Are you someone who makes their own projects, can generate an idea from start to finish? Are you more of a person who can see the value in other’s ideas and knows how to bring people together to create production teams? This shapes the way you build and what partnerships to seek.
- How important is a good “team”?
Truthfully, no one exists alone. We need other people in our lives. Build your team slowly, methodically, and carefully. Everyone should have shared goals and values. My team is growing, and every person matters. I have a lot of dreams to achieve. Quality over quantity, learn what to delegate, defer to experts, make sure you always make the final choice though, because at the end of the day your reputation stays with you.
- Besides your own industry, what other industries would you invest into if you could / already do?
I am a huge sports enthusiast. I played sports, have coached most major sports as a job, and have a passion for competition and athletes. It gives me great insights into that world, but truthfully I am open to exploring almost any business venture. Additionally, I have been doing charitable and humanitarian work for over thirty years. I am on the board of a few charities, actively participate in dozens more, but we launched two of our own. The nonprofit space is complicated but there are so many areas in society where passion and altruism can change lives.
WeComend is our community outreach charity. It is associated with Mclusive Media, sharing a vision for inclusion. We provide mentoring, training, and production opportunities for people from underprivileged and underrepresented portions of society. Our goal is to be a vehicle for obtaining practical skills and opportunity, all designed to make our business more inclusive.
Altruistic Acres was founded by my youngest daughter before heading to college. She wanted to make an environmental difference. It is focused on environmental cleanups, ecological rehabilitation, conservation, and safe spaces for increasing awareness for the vital importance of precious ecosystems. Through all my projects I want to build communities, uplift populations, and leave the world a better place with the time we have.