…we are actually diverse around the globe. I refuse to see the world with borders. I think as long as we can apply a “diverse point of view,” the rest of the details will follow. In order to make leaps, we each need to adopt a similar perspective that sees the world as a Blue Dot.
I had the pleasure to interview Film Producer Ali M. Aksu. Born in Corum, Turkey and of Circassian ethnicity, Ali M. Aksu is an international film producer and entrepreneur. He is the executive producer of the groundbreaking film “Laid in America” the first-ever feature film to cast YouTube celebrities and directors, that was distributed by Universal Studios. He is the founder of Moon Lounge, a millennial content-based podcast dedicated for global grand challenges that was incubated at Singularity University. Aksu recently founded the film finance platform filmmaker.ai, a next-generation movie production company that employs data analytics at an extensive level, while producing content with the latest technologies. He holds a B.A. in Economics, with a minor in film, TV and digital media from UCLA, and earned executive-level degrees from MIT, Wharton and Singularity University.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in the best family I can ask for. I had an older brother and sister growing up, so I had lots of attention. I remember as a child I would ask a lot of questions to everybody, imagining them as a source of knowledge. It became a joke matter at some point with my brother and sister.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I would say curiosity and learning. I remember stargazing when I was six years old. I remember asking my cousin “What if we didn’t exist?”. I feel like once you wonder beyond existence, you can never go back. Therefore, I always wanted to leave something meaningful behind. Lifelong learning, I call it my learning disorder, my adjacent luck. If you keep wondering, and then dedicate yourself to learn, I think that takes you are on the path to live a legacy. I am nowhere but in the beginning of my career.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I first came to LA during high school for an internship called “Dream Careers.” I worked with an entrepreneur who happens also to be a film producer. I went back to Turkey for the senior year of my high school thinking I should be back in LA. Then I came back to UCLA for my undergraduate studies. During my second year, we made a movie with him. I thought it was pretty cool from the first day of the filming.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I met my hero! That was my mistake. Lol. But I’m lucky that he is genuinely a great guy with great intentions.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m working on a very special project at Singularity University. It has a very disruptive potential in the film industry.
I’m very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Because we are actually diverse around the globe. I refuse to see the world with borders. I think as long as we can apply a “diverse point of view,” the rest of the details will follow. In order to make leaps, we each need to adopt a similar perspective that sees the world as a Blue Dot.
From your personal experience, can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address some of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?
Look for diverse stories to tell, hire diverse teams, question everything on an individual basis.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Nothing happens overnight.
- Be kind to people regardless of what.
- Don’t take anything personal.
- Make quality friends more than a wide network.
- Don’t wait for anyone to rescue you.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Make personal time, meditate, travel.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Blue Dot Initiative. People just need to realize that we are living on a blue dot. Keep that in mind, and go back to your daily life. I feel like that’s a good start.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes a couple. I have had several mentors along the way. I feel like for a young entrepreneur, a mentor can only do so much. E! founder Larry Namer has been a mentor of mine. We met at a lunch in Beverly Hills when I was at UCLA, hustling to make my movie. We remained connected and to this day he’s been there for me. When I ask for his opinion on something I’m working on, or we just go grab lunch, as we are both foodies. One day I dream to thank him from a stage.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“It’s only with the heart one can see rightly; what’s essential is invisible to the eye.” This is one of my favorite quotes from “Le Petit Prince” aka “The Little Prince.” You can actually watch it on Netflix now. I’m glad someone did that. It’s a children’s book that my mom gifted me to read when I was little. She still calls me her little prince sometimes. I have several mom nicknames 🙂 I think it sums up how I live. I go by my heart. I use my brain for data processing. My decisions are filtered through the heart. That’s just my flow. I respect everyone’s perspective.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Mark Zuckerberg would be great or John McAfee. They are both equally interesting these days.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@alimahiraksu — it’s a private account with some accidental followers that bounced from my “famous” friends’ Instagrams ( lol).