Sarah Valentine started working in the Film & TV industry at the age of 18, spending time in London, NZ, and Los Angeles.
She has worked as an actor for many years and appeared in many productions but most famously in the acclaimed television series Top of the Lake (nominated for an Emmy for the best cast).
She moved to New Zealand in 1995, working as a casting director. In 1998, the Lord of the Rings fever hit New Zealand and Sarah recruited 300 extras and in so doing created the agency she always wanted to start.
BGT Actors Models and Talent is now New Zealand’s most successful and trusted talent agency.
Sarah still has a hands-on role in BGT but now mainly works as a Coach for Actors, teaching accents and acting techniques and works as a celebrant for fun.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
To be honest, my mother was my main motivation and inspiration for starting my business.
She struggled as a single mother with two small children and she told me very early on that the only person that was ever going to do anything to me… was me.
So I knew that from an early age I was going to become a boss.
Tell us about your business.
I currently have my fingers in way too many pies…
BGT Actors Models and Talent is New Zealand’s leading talent agency supplying actors, models, and talent to the New Zealand film industry.
I started my business in 1998 to help people’s dreams of being on the silver screen come true. People always think it’s so difficult to be on TV and in the movies so I am that stepping stone.
I hand my cards out to people on the street and tell them that they would be great for TV and then they sign up with us at BGT. They wait for a little while and then we offer them a job. I never get bored of that moment when you tell a new talent they are booked.
The joy across their face just fills my heart.
What I love about being an accent coach is that I get to work with such a myriad of people.
There’s nothing better than having an actor come in to see you, sitting down with them, working out who the character is and how their accent needs to sound and then layering the new accent on top of the character. To see it all come to fruition is just brilliant.
My third business isn’t really a business – I do it for love… I’m a marriage celebrant. I mean with a surname like Valentine, it would be rude not to.
I work as an actor when I get cast!
I’ve appeared in a number of productions but most famously in the acclaimed television series Top of the Lake Season 1 (nominated for an Emmy for the best cast). Acting is my first big love and if I could do it full-time I would.
Where is your business based?
Auckland, New Zealand but my coaching is worldwide as I coach via Skype.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
With any business, you need to have the absolute basics. If I was to set up a business tomorrow I have a checklist and that checklist is:
- What is it that I want to do?
- Who is my competition?
- How can I be better than the rest?
- What is the name of my company going to be?
- Is the domain name available?
- Are all the social pages available?
Then buy them all and register the company.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
In this day and age, social media is the way forward, it just depends on the type of business you’re in.
Some people use a variety of different platforms but the most effective way is hard graft and getting yourself out there.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Trying to be relevant all the time. Trying to be the best that I can be 24/7. Running a company built on honesty, integrity, and openness.
Shutting out all the naysayers and trying to remain strong. It’s tough being a woman in business, there are a lot of people who don’t take you seriously, I think times are changing though.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I just kept on putting one foot in front of the other. If you are passionate about something and you have a vision of where you want to go, the only person stopping you is you. You just have to keep going.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
My mother was a single mom with two children when I look back at all of her tears, all of her worrying and everything she did for me, I have nothing to complain about.
I will make my mom proud, I will be a good model for my son, and I want to be a great role model for young women today.
I also have really great friends. They keep me grounded, honest and true. I would be lost without them.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I don’t have competitors, they have me.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
- Work hard but play harder.
- Learn about work-life balance.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Breathe… and get a VA lol.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
My VA is impressive, my website is as well.
Postplanner saves me time and energy.
Gosh, there are so many things but it would take forever to list them all.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I want to start a YouTube Channel. So I’m learning how to do that. WAHHHH scared.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I want to start some online courses for my accent coaching.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @actorsaccentcoach, @sasvalentine, @bgtnz
Twitter @accentcoach1, @sarahandcharlie
Facebook @bgtnz, @accentcoach, @sasvalentine
Website www.bgt.nz, www.actorsaccentcoach.com, www.sarahvalentine.com, www.celebrantsarahvalentine.com
Hashtags #accentcoach #sarahvalentine #celebrant #celebrantsarahvalentine #bgtnz #backgroundtalent