100 years before Khaby Lame took over vertical screens with his silent humor and MrBeast built an entire studio dedicated to making YouTube videos, one entertainer paved the way for contemporary creative entrepreneurship: Charlie Chaplin.
Context: After World War I, the U.S. entertainment industry was booming during the Roaring 20s, and the English-born Chaplin was uniquely positioned to capitalize.
Chaplin had been performing since the age of 14—and gaining international acclaim for his silent comedic character “The Tramp.” The timeline:
1917: Chaplin, both an actor and director, builds his own film studio in Hollywood, allowing him to control the filmmaking process and work with an unprecedented level of independence for the time.
1919: Chaplin becomes a cofounder of the United Artists Corporation, a distribution company that allowed its four partners (all creatives) to fund their own pictures instead of relying on commercial producers.
1928: As sound films take off, Chaplin sticks to his guns and develops City Lights as a silent movie—going on to receive success at the box office and from critics, with one writing that “nobody in the world but Charlie Chaplin could have done it.”
Big picture: With historic strikes in Hollywood and YouTube’s growing popularity among TV viewers, the entertainment industry is currently going through a seismic shift not unlike the one it went through a century prior as silent films gave way to modern movies.
The most successful creators we’ve covered are often those who ignored previously-held norms or beliefs in favor of learning by doing and pressing publish. Besides, even Chaplin had to be light on his feet—the entertainer went on to release his first “talkie” in 1939.