The Courage to Create Your Path-Sean Vaughn "CTC Media Group"
Courtesy photo from CTC Media Group: Sean Vaughn
There is something to be said for creating your own path. It is both courageous and scary all at the same time. Actor, screenwriter, and entrepreneur extraordinaire Sean Vaughn knows all about it. Vaughn started his own independent film company. “I focused on creating content that’s not like other content,” explained Vaughn. “I have an issue with seeing all of the stereotypical roles out there for black men. So, I started writing stuff for myself.”
Vaughn started with two short films titled "Tolerance" and "Love Positive." The movie "Tolerance" deals with the subject matter of its title. It stars two detectives. One was a traditional family man, and the other was single and a homosexual. They were best friends but didn’t know the intimate parts of each other's lives. The family man discovered his friends secret by complete accident. "My character was the believer who was very religious," said Vaughn. The opening scenes in the film have a preacher and a politician debating the issues of what does it mean for everybody to co-exist and have equal rights.
Even if we disagree with other lifestyles, the takeaway was that we still must love one another and accept one another for who they are as people. “The morale,” said Vaughn. “We have to get to a place where we are one nation under God.”
"Love Positive" deals with HIV, secrets, living with it, and what it is like to be born with HIV. In the film, the character's dad contracted HIV from helping a bleeding bystander he stumbled upon while out. His dad did not know the bystander was positive for HIV. The dad passed his infection on to his unborn son (Vaughn’s character). The film chronicles his childhood and all the secrets that followed while growing up.
The film did well and transformed from a short film to a web series that shot for two seasons. “The morale, secrets that we hold on to can hinder us from living our lives,” said Vaughn. The character was in love with his best friend but could not tell her because of his secret. Vaughn also shared that he has a couple of features on the back burner.
The name of Vaughn’s company is CTC Media Group. The companies mission: To provoke change and elevate culture through the power of media. The parable core values: We Lead by Faith; We Love People, We Serve with Integrity, We Create to Edify, We Pursue Innovation, We Honor the Message, We Transform Lives.
His journey to carving his chosen path goes back to his grandmother, Cora Duncan. Duncan wrote a script with the help of Vaughn's dad. “Because it was my dad and grandma, I was able to get into the play,” said Vaughn. “The play was written for youth.”
Vaughn’s grandma was all about giving children opportunities. “It was my first bite,” said Vaughn. “I loved it!”
Courtesy Photo from Vaughn family. Pictured (L to R) are Vaughn, Arielle, Brently, DaNasia, Christian and Alanna.
In high school (graduated J.W. Sexton, Class of 2001), Vaughn continued to act in school plays. He got a taste of characters that were not black. "That's where I started to play with character development," said Vaughn.
He later starred in Oklahoma. His character was not black, and he received excellent reviews. "This was the nail in the coffin," said Vaughn. "There was no way I was going any other direction." Vaughn minored in Theatre at Morehouse College (graduate class of 2005).
Vaughn reported that one of his teachers at Morehouse stated, "Yeah, you may have some talent, but that doesn't mean you can phone it in. You have to put in the work." That was all the awakening needed by Vaughn.
Vaughn's dad wrote several stage plays that moved Vaughn to do gospel productions after Morehouse. Vaughn made his way to Los Angeles. "I was inspired by careers of Denzel Washington, Will Smith, and Tom Cruise," noted Vaughn. "Seeing how they were self-reliant showed me the path I wanted for myself."
Vaughn shared an idea he had for a story with one of his brothers from Morehouse College. “I was not a writer at the time,” said Vaughn. “I wanted to explore the possibilities of roles that were non-traditional. You don’t have to be the gangbanger or the abusive father. There were roles or should have been roles that reflect real life.”
Vaughn's Morehouse brother shared his opinion. "If you want those roles to exist," he said, "you have to write them!" The suggestion ignited Vaughn's imagination. "God kept sending me ideas, and I put pen to paper," said Vaughn. "That's where everything started."
While in law school (graduated WMU Cooley Law School, class of 2010), Vaughn had the opportunity to audition for a stage company that toured all over. "I remembered saying to myself before the audition, if they except me, I'm going," said Vaughn. "I also had to make an ego shift. After that, I started getting lead roles."
Just as Vaughn believed he had everything he needed to create the correct path, he pulled up anchor and returned to Lansing. "I felt this was the move God wanted me to make," said Vaughn.
Vaughn did not know why at the time, but he returned. One day, about a year later, he got a call from Vanessa Cunningham. She was working on a project that had Vaughn's name on it. The project led to him getting "Tolerance" done and using the local talent simultaneously. The torchlight was lit, and the rest, as they say, is history. For more film and movie updates - IMDB Link: IMDb.me/seanvaughn or CTC Media Group's YouTube link - https://goo.gl/xoYlhg