Celebrities on the board: More than notable names?


Actor and producer Zac Efron is thought for his work on tv and in movie, however as of July of this 12 months, he has added one other title to his résumé: member of a board of administrators.

The Emmy Award winner joined the board of administrators for Kodiak, a meals firm identified for its breakfast merchandise like flapjack and waffle combine. It’s Efron’s first time serving on a board of administrators, however he’s no stranger to the corporate. In an interview with Fortune, Efron says that he’s a longtime fan of the model, and he personally aligns with the model’s concentrate on well being, wellness, and philanthropy. He may also function Kodiak’s chief model officer.

To Efron, the partnership feels “super organic,” however for individuals who view him as a Hollywood heartthrob in motion pictures like Baywatch and The Greatest Showman, drawing a straight line is probably not that apparent. What precisely does a Hollywood superstar provide to a Utah-based shopper packaged items model—or any model past the leisure enterprise?

“There is no inherent upside or downside to the celebrity angle beyond clickbait, which could be great or awful,” says Matt Fullbrook, a governance professional and host of the One Minute Governance podcast. “The real benefit comes if the celebrity is also a great director, and comes to the boardroom with a deep understanding of the organization and genuine curiosity about its future.”

Efron says that good companies try to “get into the minds of consumers” in a lot the identical method that he approaches performing: entering into the thoughts of the individual he’s portraying. It’s all a type of storytelling.

Since the golden age of Hollywood, large names have been tapped by firms to serve on their board of administrators, bringing their perspective to the boardroom. Cary Grant was famously a director for Fabergé, a collectibles firm identified for its bedazzled enamel eggs, and Joan Crawford was a director for Pepsi-Cola. Grace Kelly served on the board of Twentieth Century–Fox. More just lately, actor turned investor Ashton Kutcher has served on the boards of varied tech and media firms, together with Vox Media, as has Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who simply final 12 months added a diabetes nonprofit board to her résumé.

The technique of including a star to the board extends past cinema stars. Pro athletes from Michael Jordan to Shaquille O’Neal to Dwyane Wade have parlayed their on-court savviness to board seats at firms starting from Oakley sun shades (Jordan) to Pizza Hut (O’Neal) to Jeeter, a hashish firm (Wade). Musicians, social media influencers, and media personalities all discover their technique to the boardroom.

Celebrities, clearly, include their notable names to attract consideration to an organization, however that alone doesn’t warrant a seat on most boards of administrators. Fullbrook defined that if an organization is “window-dressing” with a celeb solely for advertising and marketing functions, beware. But most firms are in search of a variety of views to deal with challenges related to development, and a star might be the appropriate individual for the decision-making activity.

“Stacking the board only with industry experts is hugely overrated,” Fullbrook says. “One high-impact benefit of a celebrity is access to people, companies, and funding that might not otherwise be available to the organization.”

Manish Chandra, founder and chief govt officer of Poshmark, recruited Serena Williams for his board of administrators in 2019 for greater than her tennis-driven star energy. For him, Williams personified his buyer: She is an athlete, entrepreneur, and mom like lots of the thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs who maintain established companies on Poshmark.

“She leads with love,” he says, “and is always breaking new ground and doing what hasn’t been done before. She always brings an unique perspective on how to best empower our community of entrepreneurs.”

It’s straightforward to see why an organization would need to harness the cachet and connections of a star identify, however Fullbrook admits that the motivation for the superstar is commonly much less clear. Working on a board of administrators is time-consuming work, with a major quantity of accountability and legal responsibility, he says. It takes focus to synthesize huge quantities of knowledge and make sound strategic selections. While these are paid positions, the cash celebrities would make from a board seat is way lower than what they earn from blockbusters and promoting campaigns. As he notes, “It’s far from the sexiest job in the world.”

For some celebrities, it’s about diversification and evolution. Jessica Alba famously transitioned from performing to run her natural-goods–centered Honest Company after changing into a guardian, and in June, joined Yahoo’s board of administrators. Today, she is extra probably cited because the founding father of a $550 million shopper packaged items firm than for Dark Angel. Singer Ciara has been accelerating her work as an investor, and serves on the board of particular goal acquisition firm Bright Lights Acquisition.

For others, it’s about championing causes. Actress Emma Watson is an activist for sustainable trend. When she joined the board of administrators for Kering, which owns Gucci, Brioni, and Alexander McQueen, amongst others, she additionally took on the function of chair of the corporate’s sustainability committee. Efron hosted and produced Down to Earth With Zac Efron, a documentary sequence highlighting sustainable agricultural processes around the globe. Joining Kodiak is an extension of that exploration of his personal values.

Though superstar appointments to a board make information headlines, the precise proportion of integrated firms with a notable character as an adviser stays extraordinarily small. It needs to be a partnership that works in favor of each events to even get off the bottom.

“Every director is a steward of the organization and accountable for their decisions,” Fullbrook says. “That comes first, no matter how many TikTok followers you have.”

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