Professionals share what it takes to 'make it big' in entertainment business

Matthew Knowles says traits determine ability to succeed

By Tera Roberson - Special Projects Producer, Sara Donchey - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - He's the mastermind behind the dynamic Houston music trio Destiny's Child and father to powerhouse performer Beyonce and pop and soul songstress Solange Knowles.

"This is the first time I've sat in this room and just ... feel the energy and all the thoughts of what it took to get to that point," said Mathew Knowles as he sat in a room filled with awards and framed posters at his Music World Entertainment offices.

But nowadays, Knowles spends his time teaching a class on entertainment recording management at Texas Southern University -- the only class of its kind in the country.

"Every class, the students are like, 'Textbooks.' And I love this -- I always laugh: We will not have a textbook because I am the book," Knowles said.

Indeed, Knowles' knowledge of music and business in general led him to pen his first book, "The DNA of achievers: 0 Traits of Highly Successful Professionals," which will be available later this month.

"I named it DNA for the play on the word DNA and it's meaning -- the makeup of who we are genetically and the makeup of who we are professionally," said Knowles.

A play on words, yes, but according to Knowles, the traits are undeniable. So just what are they?

The first trait -- passion -- must exist in order to succeed.

"So many artists, songwriters, producers, dancers, and they don't know how to get into this vicious industry called entertainment that has 99 percent failure rate," Knowles said. "I want to do something about that."

"I always say, 'If you live your passion, you never work a day in your life.' I get to come here every day. I don't work, I have fun."

Then, there's vision and work ethic.

"Passion and work ethics co-exist," Knowles said.

There's also team-building and planning, and then what Knowles said he's found is one of the biggest reasons people fail in the business -- a term he's coined as the "talk-to-do-ratio."

"In the music industry, and I'm sure in many, many others we meet people who say, 'Hey, I'm going to get back with you on Tuesday,' or, 'You know what? That's a great idea. I'll have my people call you,' and that never happens," Knowled said.

The father of two successful daughters, Knowles said he constantly hears from parents who want to make their child a star.

Michelle Fitzgerald, a talent agent for Neal Hamil Agency, said she also hears from her fair share of parents who think their children are the next Beyonce or Destiny's Child. But she warns, "Don't think that they are just going to walk through a door and become famous."

She encourages children to train and perfect their craft from an early age.

"There's church theater, there's theater in school, there is choir. There's a lot of things they can do while they're growing up that they can actually have all these abilities developing," Fitzgerald said.

But most of all, just as Knowles said, Fitzgerald agrees that if the child's heart isn't in it, no amount of classes or training will help him or her succeed.

"The child has to want to do it. It's a passion, it's something deep inside them," Fitzgerald said.

How Knowles knew Beyoncé and Solange had the "DNA" traits to succeed in the entertainment business? He said it was simple.

"If I ever have to tell you (that) you have practice, then you're not passionate about it. My kids have never missed a practice, because they were always bugging me, 'Dad, dad, I have practice at 5. I have practice at 5.' That's their passion. They wanted it that bad that they never wanted to miss a practice," he said.

And even though his daughters, Beyoncé and Solange, are known worldwide for their musical accolades and success, it's how they live their lives away from the spotlight that Knowles said makes him most proud as a father.

"They're just good people and I'm very proud of them as mothers and how they are becoming just wonderful, wonderful mothers to my grandchildren.

In the book he thanks his daughters. When asked about the special tribute about his daughters he said, "You've given me the greatest gift a father could have and that's to see his kids successful."

Knowles is hosting a seminar, The Entertainment Industry: How Do I Get In? on Oct. 25 at the Houston Hobby Center, where he will share more tips on breaking into the entertainment industry.

Click here for more information on getting tickets.

Fitzgerald holds an open call every Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Neal Hamil Agency for those who come with a prepared one-minute monologue and headshot.

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