The actor reveals how to forge your own path with the help of social media.
By Sam Leicht
All through college, I couldn’t give up the idea that I had to look a certain way to succeed as an actor. Being as stubborn and hard-headed as I was (and am), that meant I was over-exercising, over-eating, and naturally not seeing any of the results I wanted.
Post-college, I moved to New York City, auditioned like crazy, and had a million “survival jobs.” I spent my days catering, packaging rare coins, and washing the grout of a Broadway producer’s bathroom with a toothbrush (yes, seriously!). Needless to say, these weren’t the jobs that would set me up for success to walk into an audition room and knock it out of the park.
Within three months of moving to New York City, though, I’d found a phenomenal group of gym friends who helped me look at fitness and health through a different lens. We were exercising to give back to our bodies and see what we could accomplish.
That old cliché rang true — exercise went from something I had to do, to something I got to do. It was a real turning point of my life and the foundation for everything that I teach today.
The first roadmap has a logical diversion
It didn’t take long for me to realize that fitness, although not on the standard actor roadmap, was going to be a big part of mine. I quit those survival jobs and started my own personal training and holistic health company.
In quitting those jobs, I freed myself to move from a life of jobs that allowed me to survive in NYC to a career that I passionately believe in. I can confidently say that I wouldn’t have booked a national tour or been on Broadway if I hadn’t made the decision to leave my survival jobs. Now, I get to perform, teach, move, and create every day — whether I’m in the gym, on camera, or onstage. It’s a different career path than the one I was told to take to be a successful actor, but it works for me because I love all of it — and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
It’s empowering to ask for what you want
In October 2020, I launched my inclusive online fitness program, Pridefit. It was the first time that I asked my subscribers to buy my product rather than just use my product, and while I thought that would make me anxious, it actually made me incredibly proud. I had spent three years laboring day after day to post free workout videos and content, and remembering all that hard work helped me enjoy Pridefit’s launch without feeling like an imposter.
Over those three years, I had fostered a community of people who — when I was honest with them and showed them the value that I was providing — then took a chance on my business. Most of those people are still paying members of Pridefit today.
Success takes time
Making money off your content or business idea will take time, patience, and strategizing. As you make your way toward a life of thriving — not just surviving — keep in mind these final tips:
Provide more value than you think your audience deserves. When you monetize your value, you never want to question whether your product is worth the cost. It should be very clear that you’ve created a foundation of value that your audience gets for free, and now you get to create a living for yourself with the added value moving forward.
Niche down! When I first started Pridefit it was called “Leichtning Health” because I was terrified that the queer community wouldn’t be a big enough audience. Getting more specific about my audience helped the business grow tremendously. Lean into who you are and the audience you’re most connected with. There’s plenty of time down the road to widen the niche.
Community is the best way to grow a business. All people want right now (whether they know it or not) is connection with others. When you cultivate a community that lifts each other up and holds each other accountable, you create a self-generating business. Word of mouth explodes. Retention is unparalleled. Oh yeah, you get a second family, too.
Sam Leicht is an NYC based actor and health coach most recently seen on Broadway in The Lightning Thief. Sam is the creator of Pridefit - an inclusive online health community and fitness program.