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Skidmore College

No small plan for actors' app

April 4, 2013

Jasmyn Elise Story ’15 wanted to be an extra in the movies, but couldn’t break in.  Her new business aims to help casting agents and would-be actors make easier connections. Will it win the Freirich Business Plan Competition? More 

Jasmyn Story '15
Jasmyn Elise Story ’15

Though she’s an anthropology major, with minors in Italian and international affairs, Atlanta native Jasmyn Elise Story ’15 says, “I have always wanted to be an actress.” She looks and sounds the part, and during her high school years “Atlanta was filming big-budget films left and right. I thought that maybe if I was an extra in a film, somebody would discover me.” But she says, “The industry was inaccessible to me. It was so frustrating.”

Her frustration led to a cool idea, Forcast, which aims to change the way casting agents hire extras through a new smartphone application that enables agents to easily browse profiles of non-union actors. The app will be developed by Justin Colvin ’14, a computer science major who will share in the Atlanta-based partnership, which will be called Equastor. Story is full of hope again; “I feel something big coming on,” she says.

Down the road, she wants to own her own studio and produce modern ethnographic films.

Story is one of six finalists vying for $50,000 in cash and business services in Skidmore’s Third Annual Kenneth A. Freirich Business Plan Competition, launched by Ken Freirich ’90, a “serial entrepreneur” and president of Health Monitor Network. The prizes are intended to catalyze students’ starting or growing their own businesses. The final round will be held Friday, April 12, at 2:45 p.m. in the Payne Presentation Room of the Tang Museum.  

Can Forcast really work? According to Story, communications between casting agents and professional actors now come through Facebook, Twitter and newspaper ads. Interested actors are asked to e-mail their resumes and portfolios to each agency, creating a mountain of material to sort through. Forcast turns this on its head, allowing agents to browse profiles of actors and even hire them through Equastor’s Web site. Says Story, “This application will forever change the way agencies hire non-union actors.”  See more in this brief video interview.

Story admits that were it not for the Freirich contest, she would have been hard-pressed to make her idea real: “I’m an anthropology major. I love people and I love words. But the business world was completely foreign to me. I didn’t know what terms like ‘net worth,’ ‘executive summary,’ and ‘target market’ meant. The workshops gave me the tools I needed to have a fair shot; they empowered me.”

Along with the management and business department’s prep sessions, Story and the other finalists are getting individual mentoring from business pros. Jody Klein ’85, president of ABKCO Records and  a Skidmore parent, has been a godsend, Story says. “Mr. Klein has opened up his world to me, providing me with the resources and the tools I need to move forward in this competition. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor. I know how Cinderella must have felt before the ball. Nothing feels better than having a team support you, making sure your dreams come true.”

The other finalists:

Magdalen Andreoni ’13, a studio arts major, aims to establish “the only specialty-cookie mobile shop in Chicago,” an enterprise she calls The Cookie Jar. Using gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan recipes she has developed from scratch for such flavors as chocolate chip, “oatmeal monster,” peanut-butter chocolate chunk, and gingersnap, she’s targeting Chicago’s Loop, where foot traffic is highest. Advising Andreoni is Mary Vail ’80, president and chief designer of Joyelles Jewelers.

Seth Berger ’14 aims to grow East Coast Lacrosse, the single-member LLC he established in 2010, into a leader in custom athletic apparel. Advising Berger is Jim Rossi ’82, managing partner of the Saratoga Polo Association and chief marketing officer for the United States Polo Association.

Alexander Nassief ’16 and Brianna Barros ’16, having established Rum Dogs Inc., aim to implement a proprietary method for aging rum in barrels submerged in the Caribbean Sea and produce a premium brand, called Black Cap Rum, for the Dominican market. “The product line will serve as a symbol of Dominican ingenuity whilst adhering to local values of eco-friendliness,” they say. Advising them is Catherine Hill, F. William Harder Professor of Business Administration at Skidmore.

Samuel Schultz ’13, who spent a year in Beijing, hopes to provide residential summer-camp placement services in the U.S. for English-speaking Chinese nationals through his Summer Destinations Company. Advising Schulz is Nancy Wekselbaum ’73, president of the Gracious Gourmet.

Kelsey Yam ’13 is a management and business major who is also a star forward on Skidmore’s soccer team. Having interned with Soccer Without Borders in Kampala, Uganda, she proposes to establish a satellite program in Fort Portal, a city  in western Uganda. Her program is targeted for poverty-stricken refugee girls under 15. Advising Yam is Rich Flaherty, president and CEO, Cove Risk Services.

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