The week of November 14 is Global Entrepreneurship Week, an annual week of events to celebrate and empower entrepreneurs in every country and community around the world.
There’s no age limit to when you can become an entrepreneur. Being a student today doesn’t mean you can’t start your future as an entrepreneur tomorrow. In fact, being in a school environment with built-in networks and opportunities to talk to experts in various fields might just be the best place for you to start.
The following interview was originally published in Authority magazine and shares the story of two entrepreneurs who have found their niche in today’s fashion world.
Meet The Disruptors: Antonio “Tony” Neville on the five things you need to shake up your industry (an interview with Fotis Georgiadis)
As part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Antonio “Tony” Neville.
Antonio “Tony” Neville is a comedian, actor, and content creator from Raleigh, North Carolina. Growing up Neville dreamed about entertaining others and it was a natural career choice that he pursued theatre and comedy. Neville’s social media channels titled “HeyTonyTV’’ are filled with relatable and creative character skits and have skyrocketed him to national fame; with his TikTok alone at 3.7 million followers and growing. With the ability to capture audiences with many relatable characters, Neville’s comedy style is often compared to some of the comedic greats, including Eddie Murphy. Past partnerships include Nike, Lenovo, and hosting Raleigh’s 2022 LGBTQ+ Pride Parade.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Asa kid, I’ve always wanted to entertain people in some sort of way. I watched my grandfather growing up, DJing and hosting events. The smile he was able to put on people’s faces made me really want to give it a try. I fell in love with comedy around 15 or 16 years old. I really didn’t dive deep into it until my college years when I became president of the comedy club at my school! From there I created a path of my own.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re currently doing and how you are “disrupting” the TikTok comedic space?
I love it! I make relatable comedy and twist it into my own little world so that it’s funny but still relatable at the same time. I think with TikTok, during the time I was blowing up on the app, nobody was able to have access to the things I had access to because of Covid. Buses, schools, gyms, classrooms. I definitely had people wondering in every video “How did he get a…” and I’m not even a teacher!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I did the “How Girls in High Series,” in the beginning there wasn’t a “laugh” just a Starbucks cup shake. In one particular video, I had to sneeze during the middle of filming it. So I sneezed and ended up laughing at the same time. I was going to delete it and start over but for whatever reason, after watching it back during the editing process, the wig flew up and I couldn’t stop laughing at the laugh/sneeze thing. So, I posted it and it became a viral sensation! Sometimes your worst mistakes can be your best mistakes!
We all need a little help along the journey. Who has been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
My grandfather was definitely one of my mentors. He used to host events and had his own radio segment. I remember taking trips with him to the radio station from time to time as a kid and listening to him on the radio. My grandfather showed me what it meant to entertain in your own way. The way people used to enjoy the music he played, the way he brought people together through his music choice, his unforgettable laugh, and his catchphrases made me appreciate what he was doing. He was making a mark on people’s lives so they would always remember him. I miss him and thank him for those experiences.
The next would be My Mother! She is my rock, my best friend, and someone I talk to about everything. I could share so many stories! She pushes me more than anyone I know. She has shown me what it’s like to be confident, to own your presence, and to have a tough backbone. I run some of my jokes by her, and she’ll tell me if they’re “ehh” or “good, but needs work”. Through thick and thin, through some of the crazy moments I’ve had as a teenager, she will never leave my side. Like I said before, we have so many stories, I would be here all day trying to pick the best one!
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
It all depends on how you set your intentions. I wanted to make people laugh and smile, especially during a time when we needed it. People couldn’t leave their homes or see their friends and family. We couldn’t go to work or school and be around one person without fear that we might catch Covid. I wanted to give people hope by disrupting their fear at the time. Laughter is the best medicine and even though at that time we weren’t able to see those teachers, students, co-workers, friends… watching a video that reminded you of someone in your life in a positive way gave you faith. Sharing that video with that person to help brighten their day is an excellent way of positive disruption. Now, when it comes to the negative, sometimes it’s all in how you say it and how you do it. It’s okay to joke and laugh. But when it becomes hurtful to someone’s culture, sexual identity, or ethnicity out of the expense of likes and follows, then that becomes a negative disruption. It’s never okay to do that. You never know what that person has been through or is going through. Just because you don’t know them or a screen is separating you from them, regardless words have power and can take a toll on a person’s mental state. Even if only you find it funny.
Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
“Have a strong backbone” — meaning that coming into any business, whether it be entertainment or any other business, you have to have a strong backbone to survive! People will try you, people will say any and everything about you to try and break you down to get the best of you. You can’t let them! It is okay to stand up for yourself and speak up. Especially in the entertainment business, it is extremely competitive and tough and not everybody is happy with your successes.
“Take time out for yourself!” — I am someone who strongly believes that mental health is important! Any industry can be demanding and draining sometimes. However, you have to take time out for yourself and your mental health. Relax, enjoy life, and find yourself a piece of mind! If you have fans that love you, they will be here when you return. Don’t overwork yourself because that’s when the cracks sometimes start to show.
“Be confident and be persistent in your goals” — It’s important to be confident in yourself as well as your dreams and aspirations in life. Nobody believes in you more than yourself! Not everyone will understand what you’re trying to accomplish in life and that’s okay. However, if you set your goals and intentions to what you’ve always wanted, it will come! Be confident in your craft, be persistent in your goals, and set a foundation for yourself to build slowly on. Slow and steady always wins the race!
“Get to know your craft, find your Niche” — Knowing your craft is so important! It also helps how you find your niche as well. Try out things, see what works, see what doesn’t, and build up your craft from there. Almost every entertainer, singer, comedian, actor, etc, have some kind of niche that separates them from their counterparts. Knowing your strongest points, weak points, and what works for you will take you very far. Once you have generated a loyal fan base then you can branch off and try different things and incorporate them into your work.
“Just have fun!” — Sure, setting a goal is just as important as working hard to achieve it. However, at some point, you have to relax, enjoy life and have fun! Life is about creating memories and gaining experiences that you’ll take with you forever. Having fun is included in that. Don’t take yourself too seriously so that you lose the fun in yourself and your work. I love to laugh, I love to have fun, and hang out with friends and family because that’s the time you can’t get back or recreate once we leave this earth. So live it up and enjoy it!
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
Well, I don’t want to say too much, but I have a movie coming out next year, I’m working on a fun podcast and some other things I can’t wait for you all to see!
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
I love the “Drinks with Champs” podcast! I remember watching an episode with Alicia Keys. She said that she had to eliminate negative things and people from her life in order to feel a sense of happiness. That sat with me because, as an influencer, you meet people and make friends, but you never know who’s going to be a positive influence on your life and a negative influence. You have to really balance out your circle and block out any negativity so that you can really focus on yourself, your brand, and your happiness! I totally agreed with Alicia on that one.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Life is so much easier when you stop explaining yourself to other people and just do what works for you!” Sometimes as a creator and an influencer, I used to spend a lot of time trying to make people happy with what “they wanted for me” when I wanted to do other things. I was afraid to step outside of the box. Then, I realized that I have to make myself happy! I have to explore my creative mind and be different! It works for me and I love being different. It takes time for people to get used to change but if they love you, they’ll stick around for the ride!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
To be kind to one another! That’s the movement I want to spark. Yes, we laugh, we joke, and we have a good time but I’d love to finally see people respect each other. Respect each other’s preferences, ideas, and walks of life… I just want to spread love around the world and see other people spread happiness as well.
Read more of this interview on Authority magazine: https://medium.com/authority-magazine/meet-the-disruptors-antonio-tony-neville-on-the-five-things-you-need-to-shake-up-your-industry-8d1e8a1ca925