Steve Harper’s tips for students wanting to make it in Hollywood


John Caesar, Lifestyle Reporter

Steve Harper, Co-Executive Producer of Stargirl, stopped by Georgia Southern to give students in the entertainment industry key tips on how to navigate the inner workings of the Hollywood landscape. 

If you’re in a major that could possibly lead you into getting in touch with people on the Hollywood level, these tips may be very helpful for you. 

Networking is key in this business. While Harper went over a variety of tips to get into the industry, the primary tool in your arsenal of making it big is networking. 

As Harper explains, “In the entertainment industry, if you have the opportunity to meet people, connect with them, remember who they are and then keep in touch with them on a regular basis. Chances are if I do that enough times [that person I’m connecting to] is going to remember me, because I wrote to them.” 

Harper shared with his audience that prior to even making it in the industry, he hit a brick wall simply by not following this principle.

“I was complaining, as we do, to my agent pretty early on while I was in Hollywood, Los Angeles,” he said. “And I say ‘Why is nothing happening for me?’, and my agent said ‘Well, we introduced you to all these people, these executives and writers. It’s your job to make friends’.”

Harper would also answer a student’s concern about making connections that have nothing to do with famous people. Making connections can also mean making some with your friends who are also pursuing a career adjacent to yours. 

“So you network with these guys, right?” he said. “I assume your friends because you’re sitting together. Right? And whatever they do on some level, they might recommend you if they have the opportunity to recommend you.”  

Harper went on to say, “It’s really as simple as making friends and talking to people”.

Having a personality helps a lot as well. “Millions of people can do the bottom line of a job,” Harper explained. “I think on some level, people get jobs because like ‘I like that guy. He’s funny. I could spend eight hours a day with him.’.” 

Harper really emphasized the impressions you make amongst the people you’re networking with can be just as valuable as the talent you bring to the table. 

“There are people out there in Hollywood, for better or worse, who are much better on personality than they are on talent,” Harper said. “And then those people get really far. They can because it’s easy to keep them around.”

When do you know if this line of work is for you? It may take a year or years before anyone pursuing their dream career in entertainment can find satisfying results. Some may be wondering when to quit. 

During the Q and A portion of the event on campus, Harper managed to come up with his own answer to that question, suggesting that it’s really up to you to decide when you’ve had enough. 

“There are times in almost everything I’ve done where the question comes up as to like ‘Is this it? Is this what I want to be doing?’,” he said. “And sometimes that’s really global, like, ‘do I still want to be a writer?’ Sometimes it’s really specific, like ‘do I want to be on this show?’.”

He went on to say, “I think part of it is to ask yourself ‘what am I in it for? Like how and why does this feed me and what feels good about it?’.”

The world of Hollywood may be a hard world to get into, but it isn’t impossible. It just takes a lot of work, networking, personality and some luck. If you keep trying, maybe you’ll make it too. 

Steve Harper also has a new book to check out called A Few Short Plays to Save the World that covers all sorts of topics with humor and magical realism, available now on Amazon for purchase.