INTRO BY KAT VISTI
INTERVIEW BY CAMI LIBERTY
Erman Baradi is a Hollywood networker and interviewer who started from the bottom and worked his way up to the top. Erman started everything as a way to impress a girl but it turned into something much bigger than that. Erman wants to help young talent find their way in the entertainment business. He's the co-founder of a Hollywood event series called MixKnowledgy that ranges across LA, New York City, Chicago, Virginia, Miami, and London with upcoming expansion in Toronto, Paris, and Berlin! The Huffington Post even named him as the Top Networker in Hollywood. We sat down for an interview with Erman to learn more about his success, multiple projects, and future endeavors.
How did you first get your start as being a networker and celebrity interviewer?
"It goes all the way back to 2012. I wrapped up my internship in West Hollywood and had come back home to Virginia. So, I had to figure out a way to strike while I still had some sort of heat. I looked up writing gigs on Twitter and came across an interview gig for a digital magazine. I had no interview experience prior to that but I submitted anyway. And it was a pro bono gig but I figured it was a chance to network with whomever I was interviewing. I got the gig and purchased an entertainment magazine to figure out how to interview. During this I was making a lot of friends on Twitter who were like me, trying to break into the entertainment business. I created the social media name @Erman_LA because it sounded cool. But then folks started believing I was in LA! Because of that I was getting DM's for LA-based events, conferences, etc. People wanted me to work for them. Every position I held whether it was pro bono, cheap pay, or whatnot, I leveraged who I met through it for the next endeavor."
You are the co-founder of the Hollywood event series MixKnowledgy. Can you tell us a little about this?
"Yes, I would hate to pigeonhole myself but I tend to be known as the event guy or the panel lineup go. I started producing these panel events in LA and NYC that I like to refer as "panel and party" events or "more than a panel." These are social experiences in addition to hearing speakers talk. Our bigger ones we do at nightclubs and have DJ's, the full experience. I did them for a few years solo and under different names before partnering up with folks. Before I would get names from big companies for other platforms and that was fun, but I wouldn't make a lot per the effort I put in. So, I started doing them on my own. My first one in LA had over 40 speakers. Mind you, I had no idea at the time what I was doing, but apparently I was okay at it. I'm talking speakers who actually had merit and are running the town. For my first event? Not bad. So I picked up steam from that, every now and then land meetings since my main goal is to write and produce. I met my current business partner Brandon when he and his wife attended an event of mine a few years back. We started MixKnowledgy which was coined by my brother. The play on words is mixology + knowledge since we combine mixers and forums. We have also done Chicago, London, my home state of Virginia, Miami, and looking to Vancouver this year."
Some of your side projects include Innovasian, Project Muse, and more. Can you tell us more about these projects?
"Innovasian is a spin off focused on Asian American speakers! I have to do it for my community. Project Muse is another side project catered to the music industry. Project Music would be too on the nose, so I chose Muse since guests impart knowledge and their creative process. I like helping cultivate talents and this includes musicians as well. My solo event series is Hollywood Chills which are more intimate and more in your face, more toned down from the partiee. From Chills, I do Holly Would Talk which is female-driven. I am a male but I love seeing women empowered. Brandon and I alsp host live phone conference interviews in which we interview special guests on our conference line. We also have The Film Empire for our series of Hollywood film and screenwriting mentorship contests. This is a big one for us because blossoming content creators get to meet leading industry pros face to face over coffee or lunch or Skype. They are getting firsthand knowledge from those making the moves! We are not doing it just for directors ir writers but everyone. Coming up we have a diversity initiative, a composers mentorship, an art design contest, a cinematographer contest, and plenty more! Think of your favorite show or movie, chances are we have had reps in past or upcoming lineups."
Last year The Huffington Post named you the top networker in Hollywood. Can you describe how you felt when you found this out?
"This was so cool because I spent years and years networking and I got to see it all come together. I was recognized for something I deserved. I could be at an office job or be a bartender or waiter - which I am by no means slamming whatsoever. But that was never for me. I would literally make networking a job for myself and sacrifice the money I could be making at something more stable. It really did mean a lot to be featured like that right before hitting 27."
Do you have any advice for people that are trying to get their start in the industry?
"That is such a tough question actually because there is no one path. Even me, I know a lot of people myself from reps to producers to showrunners, yet I'm still trying to make it myself. Stand out. Plain and simple. Figure out a way to stand out in this super overpopulated industry. Don't go the path millions have traveled before you. Use the internet to your advantage. Answers are everywhere. And if you can't find an answer, create an answer. No one will hire you? Hire yourself. Don't let someone else be in charge of your fate."
This year you are also looking into self-releasing a poetry book. Have you been writing poetry for a while? When did it come about that you wanted to publish a book?
"Actually, that was my first medium as a middle schooler. Wasn't always good, of course, but I think I got better over time! I always wanted to publish something growing up but had to make sure it was the right time and the right project. The collection is an anthology of works over time from early teens till now. Interviews like these back me into a corner in a good way. I say I am working on something so now that the public knows, I can't shy away from putting it out!"
What are some goals that you hope to achieve in the future of your career?
"Long term, of course we all want to win those Oscars and Globes and Emmys, but I just want to impact the industry first, whether it's telling stories through the eyes of an Asian American or a millennial. I hope to land representation soon as a writer. That would be amazing. I want to work both in film and television to be honest. I am writing pilots and features at the moment and am totally open to someone reaching out to collaborate. I recently got my LLC for BarCada. In Tagalog, "barkada" translates in English to gang or group of friends. Another play on words since my last name is Baradi. This is my solo endeavor, a chance to "do me." It's okay to be selfish sometimes. Since the beginning everytime I start something, other people want in. That's fine and I get it but this allows me to be me. After all, I didn't begin a brand and build a platform from scratch without personal agendas and goals. I'm all for helping others but, of course, my intentions come first."