Julie Caitlin Brown - American Artist, Actress, Musician and Business Woman

Julie Caitlin Brown - American Artist, Actress, Musician and Business Woman

Julie Caitlin Brown has enjoyed a 38-year career as an Artist, which has included Stage, Television, and Film. Beginning her career as a singer, Brown starred in several musical theatre productions. She also practices her talents in writing and film production. She has written and produced 3 original music albums during her singing career. In 2002, she took a break from her career as an artist to launch her company "Illumina Productions, LLC".

First and foremost, a big thank you Julie for taking the time to answer our questions.

ADAMA TOULON - You are an accomplished artist, actress, musician and a businesswoman. What are the similarities and differences between the worlds of show business and business?

JULIE CAITLIN BROWNThe greatest mistake artists make when entering their profession is to neglect the business aspects of the industry. I was fortunate to realize this in high school and had a double major of music and business in college.  I have told my own son that he must take business courses in college if he plans to make his living as an illustrator as it is imperative you understand how you make your money, how to grow your money and business contacts, and how to manage your affairs by yourself.  That does not mean you do not have experts and staff to assist you, but you must understand, at least on a basic level, how your industry functions.  Therefore, there is no difference, at least not to me, in how the business of the entertainment world operates from any other enterprise, it is all about supply and demand, value, unique ideas communicated in a compelling manner.

AT - Why did you decide to become an actor's agent in the event industry?

JCB - At the age of 37 I met my second husband and we both wanted children, his first, my second, and although I had some success as an actor, the roles I was being offered were not the direction I wanted to go as an artist, and I decided to utilize my management skills so I could create my own destiny rather than fulfilling someone else’s objectives.  I do plan on returning to the theater at some point with my own project but being a personal appearance manager has had it’s benefits.

AT - Is it easy to reconcile these different activities? 

JCB - Yes, I have always been able to move between the two worlds, creating music, releasing 3 albums while I was being a manager, I also did do some acting over the last 25 years, directing a documentary, and writing a musical, but my core business is Illumina.

AT - Do you have and/or encounter difficulties as a woman, both as an artist and as a businesswoman?

JCB - Three aspects of being a tall, strong woman in this business:

First, as an actor, I am usually taller than the men that cast me, direct me, or work with me on set or stage, and I had to learn to embrace this physical difference very early in my career and use it to my advantage.

Second, when I entered the personal appearance world it was run almost totally by men and there were clearly moments of contention as I insisted on a more transparent and enforceable contract for the talent. I had managed comics and well-known bands in the early 80’s and taught a workshop on SAG contracts in the 90’s and brought that acumen to the events, which at first probably felt restrictive to the promoters, but in the end, it has proven to increase the productivity, accountability, and revenue of all concerned. I am proud to say that many of the men who were not comfortable with me in the beginning have become trusted colleagues over the years.

Third, after suffering a traumatic brain injury in 2015, I had the opportunity to work with the Amen Clinics in Los Angeles to heal my brain, but it also revealed to me certain areas of my behavior that no longer served me and allowed me to develop more compassion and understanding for those who are dealing with anxiety, depression, and reactionary behavior.  By being willing to discuss this with the talent, promoters, and the attendees of the events, I have been blessed to see the growth in communication and connection with other women in particular.

AT - And if yes, do you think that these 2 worlds have evolved these last years and in the right direction for women?

JCB - Since entering the personal appearance market for genre conventions as one of only 3-4 women worldwide, there are now dozens of women running their own companies managing talent for these events.  I absolutely see growth in this area in the right direction.

AT - Is it easier to make a place for yourself as a businesswoman or as an artist? 

JCB - I have more control running my own company, of course, and at 62 my art is entering a new stage of creation, one I hope all my years in the business world will create wonderful opportunities to express my vision.

AT - What advice would you give to a young girl who would like to start an artistic career?

JCB - Study all forms of art.  Study people, the human condition, study nature, study economics.  Everything we experience in our life is the foundation for creating authentic characters, stories, music, poetry.  Then DO IT. Anywhere and as much as you can!  Student films, community theatre, church, wherever there is an opportunity to learn and practice, just DO IT.  Finding an agent or manager will come from being seen while you are actually performing, that’s how I was discovered.  A fellow actor’s agent came to see them in a community theatre play and signed me.

AT - You have recently launched a new challenge by taking up triathlon, can you tell us about it?

JCB - I had always played competitive sports and at 57 I was looking for a new challenge.  I already loved to cycle and swim it was the running that scared me. Because I wore a back brace in high school, I was never a great runner, I only had an hour out of the brace per day, and running wasn’t something I wanted to do!  But I fell in love with the sport and went on to actually make the podium in my age group in my first triathlon and have continued to do so in every race except one.  I took a break last year but am looking forward to racing in 2023. 

AT - You support two associations in the fight against cancer and leukemia. Are there any other causes you would like to represent or support?

JCB - I am a huge supporter of Brain Health, not Mental Illness as they like to call it, but the education and therapies to heal the brain from trauma and other causes which can be crippling when left untreated.  My documentary, “Noise” will be edited soon, and I hope that my journey to a healthier brain inspires others to look at alternatives to treating only the symptoms, by getting a good look at the brain and what is really happening in the specific areas of injury or imbalance.

I am also committed to a more compassionate and loving approach to those who have bipolar, schizophrenia, ADHD, which are severe mental issues, which, I have learned, are very different from brain trauma, which I suffered, and are very misunderstood by society.  We can all do better in our communication and approach to these issues.

© Photo: JCB