Last week, AOL's original-programming channel launched the first six episodes of Acting Disruptive, a new 12-part Web series co-created and hosted by Max Lugavere (formerly of Current TV and the emcee of last month's Details "Tech & Tastemakers Summit" in New York City). The show profiles a gaggle of Hollywood stars who've added entrepreneur to their résumés (the first six episodes feature Jessica Alba, Jared Leto, Felicity Huffman, Adrian Grenier, Rainn Wilson, and Adam Goldberg).
"They are artists, innovators, and media pioneers—famous names that are challenging the status quo," Lugavere dramatically utters in the show's opening sequence. Eye roll if you will, but we were impressed by these stars' genuine passion and dedication to their ideas.
Here's a quick breakdown of the first six installments:
Celeb: Jessica Alba
Business: The Honest Company
Alba's is the most established of the celebrity-led companies Lugavere visits. Launched in 2011, the "family brand" makes everything from nontoxic toilet cleaner to cutesy diapers with ice-cream-cone prints. Alba says she sought to fill the niche between super-eco alternatives that are ugly and expensive and don't really work and harsh chemical-laden products that "might burn your baby's bum," as she puts it. Lugavere does his best to make Alba's attempts at "disrupting the baby industry" sound exciting, but how excited can you get about plaid diapers and packaged baby wipes?
Celeb: Jared Leto
Jared Leto has already disrupted one Hollywood cliché by starting a music career and not laughably failing at it. Now he's developing new ways to deliver music to fans worldwide. VyRT is a social live-streaming concert service where, in exchange for buying virtual tickets, people can see a band and interact with fellow fans without having to put up with advertising or sponsorship (or traveling to the venue). Looking every bit the rock star with his scruffy beard and leather bracelets, Leto may surprise a few folks with his techie talk about things like "propietary real-time chat functions." Of the six celebs Lugavere visits in this first round, Leto cuts the most innovative and impressive figure.
Celeb: Felicity Huffman
What the flicka is What the Flicka? It's Felicity Huffman's advice website for moms and their female friends (Flicka is Huffman's childhood nickname). As awesome as Huffman is, sorry to say this episode is the weakest of the bunch. It starts with a hokey setup in which Lugavere finds the actress at home, still in her pajamas. Brushing her teeth while chatting with Lugavere, Huffman then pulls up her top and flashes the supposedly surprised host to prove that breast-feeding two kids has taken its toll (fortunately, AOL blurs the boobs). See, Felicity is a wacky, no-holds-barred kind of modern mom, and her tell-it-like-it-is attitude informs What the Flicka's content. Huffman's commitment to providing a space where women and moms can share their daily frustrations and joys is clear—what's not clear is exactly how it's disrupting the mommy-blog world (or why that world even needs disrupting to begin with).
Celeb: Adrian Grenier
Adrian Grenier wins the award for Most Earnest Celeb in this first season. His Web company, SHFT, is about "finding market-based solutions" to environmental problems and helping individuals make small changes in their consumption habits. SHFT's website (no doubt Shift.com was already taken) is a hub of environmental news and an eco-friendly marketplace where users can purchase hundreds of items from small, sustainable producers (things like light fixtures crafted from recycled scrap metal or desks made from wood scavenged from a whiskey warehouse). As Lugavere chats with Grenier, it's easy to forget the guy is anything other than a socially conscious new-media entrepreneur (or is that because he's basically been off the radar since Entourage ended?).
Celeb: Rainn Wilson
Business: Soul Pancake
"SoulPancake.com got started as a place for people to pose life's big questions," Rainn Wilson says while sitting with Lugavere in the media company's appropriately funky and modern office in Los Angeles. "You want to know what's really disruptive to the world?" he adds, further framing the company's mission. "Don't be jaded and cynical. It's so easy. What's hard is really connecting and staying pure of heart and positive of intention." But before you think that Wilson is challenging Grenier for that Most Earnest Celeb award, rest assured he brings some delightful dementia to the episode, like booting Lugavere out of his shag-carpeted custom-built seventies van after the host asks him a question he doesn't like.
Celeb: Adam Goldberg
Business: Vine Filmmaker
This one's a stretch. Yes, Goldberg has been hailed as the King of Vine and the Vine Auteur for his oddly creepy and undeniably creative films on Twitter's six-second-video platform. And okay, he was hired by European telecom company Orange to craft and post Vine vids from the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. But Goldberg isn't an entrepreneur—he's an artist whose trailblazing work has made people sit up and take notice of his talents in a new way. Then again, maybe being an artist, someone who puts forth a personal creative vision for public consumption, is simply the purest form of entrepreneurship there is.
The first six episodes of Acting Disruptive are available to view at ActingDisruptive.com. The next six episodes launch in mid-November.
• • •