Two of the greatest – and most profitable – examples of actors who paved their own road to success are the stories of Rocky and Good Will Hunting.
Sylvester Stallone was a 30-year-old unknown actor when he wrote the script to what would become one of the world’s favourite films, Rocky.
Despite being broke and nearly homeless, he refused all offers to buy the script, insisting he had to be part of the deal, playing the lead role.
Eventually, Stallone got his way and like the boxer he portrayed, came out the champion of the world.
Watch Rocky here.
With Good Will Hunting, the script came from a project of then 22-year-old Matt Damon while still in college. Developed with his best friend Ben Affleck, the concept gathered interest from major studios, but like Rocky, it was without the pair in leading roles.
Like Stallone, Damon and Affleck stuck to their guns, starred in the film and went on to win a joint Oscar for their work.
Watch Good Will Hunting here.
Closer to home, creating your own role has helped make Josh Thomas, one of Australia’s leading comics, a world star.
In 2013, the then-25-year-old released the comedy drama Please Like Me, based on his stand-up routines and starring himself as… himself!
Multiple awards and a world-wide fan base soon followed, and now, with the Stan exclusive comedy Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, he’s pushing the boundaries again with a character tailor made to make us laugh, challenge stereotypes and show just what he’s capable of.
Thomas plays Nicholas, a 20-something living between Australia and Los Angeles with a new boyfriend on the horizon and the world at his feet when life takes an unexpected turn.
After the sudden death of his father, he finds himself the guardian to his two half-sisters as they battle the toughest time of their lives as teenage girls.
Genevieve (played by Maeve Press) is a headstrong high-achiever who isn’t really too fond of the mean girls she calls her friends, but knows they’re better than nothing.
Matilda (Kayla Cromer) is a piano prodigy on the autism spectrum with an honesty that often lands her in trouble for telling the truth rather than what people want to hear.
And both are just starting to notice the boys around them.
It’s a perfect storm of emotion for Nicholas, himself still coming to terms with the fact his father has gone and that the guy he’s falling for (Adam Faison) might be finding it all too much to be a part of.
But woven through it all is the quirky humour Thomas is known for, with the result being one of the most affecting, genuine and outright funny series in years.
Watch Everything’s Gonna Be Okay here.
Here’s six other series created or written by performers to show the world what they could do.
The Other Guy
From Australian comedian Matt Okine comes the hysterical Stan Original series that looks at how hitting rock bottom can be the first step to a spectacular bounce back. Packed with perfect Australian moments, this is the perfect showcase for Okine’s self-deprecating humour.
Watch the Stan Original series The Other Guy here.
Work In Progress
Created by Chicago comedian Abby McEnany (with Tim Mason), this thoroughly modern comedy/drama follows “45-year-old self-identified fat queer dyke” Abby as she finds love with a trans man as and slowly reconnects with life, delving deep into the themes of mental illness and LGBTIQ culture.
Watch Work In Progress here.
Based around his already-popular stand-up routines, this “show about nothing” introduced the world to Jerry Seinfeld’s unique New York comedy stylings, made him a mega-star and gave the world countless sayings.
Watch Seinfeld here.
Sarcastic, egotistical and nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is, Ricky Gervais’ David Brent was instantly recognisable to anyone who has ever worked in an in an office… and an instant classic that soon spawned an America tribute.
Watch The Office (UK) here.
Watch The Office (USA) here.
Created and written by series star Frankie Shaw, SMILF is a refreshing and honest comedic look at at co-parenting and female sexuality, through the viewpoint of of a 20-something single mum jumping back into the dating pool. The series has struck a chord around the world and helped launch Shaw into the Hollywood a-list.
Watch SMILF here.