Attorney Mitra Ahouraian’s Clubhouse discussion on entertainment law drew Tiffany Haddish, Bethenny Frankel and more
Photo: Courtesy Mitra Ahouraian/Clubhouse
In recent months, Clubhouse has become one of the hottest social media platforms. The audio app is like walking into a seminar and listening to a panel discussion – but better! Panelists rotate in and out, guests come and go, and it’s completely free of charge. Rooms don’t advertise, so the traffic is organic. Once you’re in, it’s up to you to find the discussions that interest you. But the only way people stick around is if you have something purposeful to offer.
I joined Clubhouse in December of last year and it’s become an integral part of how I build my online network. I host a room on Clubhouse every Thursday evening with fellow attorney David Wienir — Entertainment Law Exposed — which recently turned into an epic, viral event that attracted more than 35K guests and ran over 17 hours, thanks to a trio of unexpected guests. This wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t created a valuable forum on a regular schedule. Truth be told, you can’t force something to go viral on Clubhouse. But what you can do is lay the groundwork and be ready for it if and when it does.
When I hopped onto Clubhouse, I was listening to some rooms and found a lot of non-lawyers giving legal advice and many unanswered questions. Another entertainment attorney I know, David Wienir, was on the app and we were often sharing stages. David and I are passionate about demystifying the law. We put our heads together and at David’s suggestion, we’ve been hosting Entertainment Law Exposed every Thursday for the past several months now. Our room was even nominated by overheardla as one of the 5 Most Inspiring Rooms on Clubhouse. Yes, a room run by lawyers.
Unexpected Celebrity Guests
Between 100 and 200 people join the room each week. One night, we were having one of our usual Thursday evening shows and comedian / actress Tiffany Haddish entered the room. At first, I thought she’d pop in for a minute and leave. But after 10–20 minutes, she was still in the audience listening intently, and like anyone else interested in speaking on stage, she raised her hand.
I introduced Tiffany and the first thing she said was, “I want to know why you lawyers use words that nobody understands and why can’t you just speak English and say it exactly the way I’m saying it.” It was the perfect, hilarious opening line to poke fun at legal jargon. Then, she shared her experiences with different types of lawyers and how she’s felt taken advantage of by Hollywood during her career.
Someone asked Tiffany about winning her first Grammy, and in an unexpected moment of vulnerability, she poured her heart out and was brought to tears. Other than watching Oprah, where else would you get that kind of spontaneous, authentic human experience from someone so adored in today’s day and age?
Then, “Real Housewives” alum Bethenny Frankel came in and shared her experiences about being in numerous legal situations regarding negotiations and contracts, impressively displaying a high level of awareness in what she wants and what she’s doing. “Millionaire Matchmaker” Patti Stanger also joined. So with Bethany, Tiffany and Patti aboard the Clubhouse ship, they shared their unique experiences with different types of deals and what they’ve had to fight for – all while bringing their usual fun and personable selves to the stage.
When recording artist Citizen Cope joined the room, someone pulled him up on stage and he performed for us. For a moment, it was like being in a living room concert. People coast-to-coast were listening in and no one wanted to leave.
It became a blend of sharing experiences, educating people about entertainment law, and entertaining them with real-world celebrities. This was a night of engaging conversation that wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t created this collaborative space.
This time we just happened to attract Tiffany Haddish, Bethenny Frankel and Patti Stanger because they were seeking information. What we came to realize is that if you just provide a platform where everyone is on the same playing field people will tune in. There’s something special about that.
How to Create Recurring Listeners
The key to creating repeat listeners is inclusivity. The stages on Clubhouse can get cliquey and people tend to bring up folks who are popular on the app. While we do have our regulars (our “mod squad”), we like to make everyone feel welcome. Although our room is about entertainment law, we encourage real world conversations and questions. I welcome people to just pop up on stage and introduce themselves even if they don’t have a question. David is also really good at coming up with discussion points that everyone, not just the lawyers, can contribute to. We want to expand the community in a warm and welcoming way. I am responsive on the back channels, making sure to respond to as many messages as I can. I’m equally active with the community on Instagram and add value there by creating legal tip videos that people find really helpful. Ultimately, we are here to serve and to create an educational space where the law is accessible, understandable, digestible, and fun. Real world application is really important to us, so we encourage conversations from producers, artists, and other creatives so we can teach from the level of experience. We even have musical guests every week, which is a beautiful way to give the conversations a break and support the artists we protect. We encourage our audience to follow them on Instagram, give them a listen on Spotify, go to their shows, and buy their music.
We discuss current events and cases as well. They’re not only wonderful topics of discourse but can also be great teaching moments. We talked about Britney Spears’ conservatorship, Scarlett Johansson’s case against Disney (which is tremendously impactful on the community), and recently the case regarding the photo of the baby on Nirvana’s album cover (now an adult who is suing claiming it’s pornographic and that his parents didn’t give consent). We also talk about landmark cases from the past. We’ve covered a lot of ground, from the independent contractor laws changing in California, the legality of mandatory vaccinations on set, copyright issues and how to register and protect yours, to different types of contracts and what to look out for, when it’s time to get a lawyer, and justice system woes in general. We give people a peek into the lives of lawyers and negotiation tactics, pet peeves, and how the whole process works. The conversations happen naturally and can go anywhere.
Growing An Audience
Growing the audience has been organic so far. Word of mouth and reciprocal support with other rooms has been huge. I try to add value with legal tip videos on Instagram that address some of the questions that come up. My co-host David Wiener and I are considering hosting workshops or even writing a book. The most important thing is to add value and be of service. We’ve managed to create a space that celebrities like Tiffany Haddish want to spend time in. I don’t know many (or any) other places where celebrities have these kinds of conversations with a bunch of lawyers (for free at least).
Visiting and Co-Moderating Other Clubhouse Rooms
The entertainment community has become close and I support and co-moderate the majority of the regular Hollywood rooms. Weekly topics range from international film finance to screenwriting and dozens more. I try to add value by bringing the business and legal perspective and answering questions. I’m also a regular on the weekly show Could Your Life Be a Movie? — a beautiful space created for people to share their life stories, get feedback from Hollywood producers, and even win cash prizes. I’m also planning some one-off specialty rooms, like how to secure the “life rights” of a celebrity if you’d like to make a movie about them and answering questions about the guilds such as SAG-AFTRA and the WGA.
Clubhouse is a platform where anything can happen and you can create whatever space you want to create. And if you’re doing things well and regularly, in addition to adding value and being of service, you too can experience an epic, viral moment. Come by my Clubhouse room Entertainment Law Exposed Thursday nights at 5 p.m. PST. You never know what could happen!
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