As I stepped onto Sir Richard Branson’s Makepeace Island last week, I had crazy ideas about what could happen – mind-blowing conversations, fresh idea injections, a chance to really absorb the off-the-camera life of, arguably, the world’s most famous entrepreneur.
But never, in my wildest imagination, did I expect the Virgin founder to strip off right in front of me. And don a mermaid tail.
However, having spent five days with Sir Richard on his recent trip to Australia I should have known to expect the unexpected. Though my team and I were there to work on some of our own exciting projects (details coming soon!), Sir Richard had agreed to film a video for World Oceans Day but there was one slight problem – they didn’t have a videographer. Asked if we could possibly help, our team gleefully stepped up to the challenge to record Sir Richard as a merman.
After I helped Sir Richard hop onto his rock, our team sped into action with filming and lighting (there’s nothing quite like seeing one of your staff standing in a pool, holding a reflective shield up to a half-naked billionaire in a mermaid tail). Doing the whole shot in one take, Sir Richard then played it up to the camera, taking his custom-made tail for an impromptu spin (or rather, swim).
The whole situation was ridiculously fun and reminded me to always be open to opportunities no matter what they look like from the outset and, when they come along, to grab them with two hands and one hell of a playful attitude.
As a big advocate of social change and environmental responsibility, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the result of the filming, which we were all too happy to offer pro bono. You can check out the result below, which was released by Huffington Post as part of an ongoing series with Ocean Unite, an organisation Sir Richard helped establish, to celebrate the UN-designated World Oceans Day on June 8th.
You might also spot another famous face in this video, with Adrian Grenier – yes, of Entourage fame – also making an appearance. The co-founder of Lonely Whale, a foundation to develop advocates for ocean health, is on a mission to limit the amount of plastic that enters the ocean (each day alone, the US throws out enough plastic straws to circle Earth more than twice) and will be joining Sir Richard for a 3.3km ocean swim in September to continue raising awareness of ocean issues.
Sir Richard’s up-for-anything attitude, constant laughter and generosity of time demonstrated his willingness to make a splash and do something bold for the ocean. So my question is, will you?
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