‘I grew up on a council estate, worked in McDonald’s but now I am a millionaire and have starred in EastEnders’
Terry Stone, 51, is a role model for underprivileged children living in the capital. He is not shy about his tough upbringing as he was born in Brixton, London, and grew up in Putney, Kingston, and Camberley. He grew up on council estates and says his time as a teenager was where he grew the resilience which helped him get to where he is now.
Now an actor, businessman, and millionaire, he is a role model to those who were given little and has given advice to others who also were dealt a tough hand in life. Terry left school with no qualifications and was given his first taste of the real world in his three years at McDonald’s.
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He praised the lessons that the fast food chain taught him and said: “I left school with no qualifications and then went straight to working at McDonald’s. I was part time then went full time and it gave me an amazing grounding. It humbled me and gave me a work ethic.
“Of course I didn’t love my job there. I was 16-years-old and we were cleaning toilets and bins – picking up litter outside with a pole. It was a degrading job but it taught me to muck in and work as a team. McDonald’s was like a training camp and showed me how business works. I wouldn’t recommend everyone do it but for me I was given discipline and it set me up for life. Kids nowadays would deny working at McDonald’s but it’s humbling, I didn’t enjoy it but I can’t speak more highly of what I learnt there.”
Following his time at McDonalds he tried to become a Marine and join the Royal Navy. Unfortunately, his fear of heights restricted progress in the field and he went back to claiming benefits. Terry then did odd jobs and at one point worked in an electronics shop, and in his first month he made more than his manager for selling so many products.
Unfortunately, after a good start, the recession then hit and Terry was once again thrown back into poverty. Earning £40 a week through benefits he found his calling at an unusual place – a rave.
He said: “The rave scene exploded and all my friends were going. I pushed back but after around 20 requests to go with my mates I gave in – raves then changed my life. Everyone was friendly and chatty (at the time I didn’t realise they were off their heads). I left a rave, saw a flyer guy and asked him if he got paid. I then became a flyer guy myself. They gave us a rave and we can go out and give flyers out. Got all my mates in and got a sign bonus for everyone that attended from my tickets. I went from nothing to £500/600 pw doing flyers.
“Over the years this changed from selling at one event to selling for loads of events. I called every promoter and asked to sell their tickets and was soon selling thousands a week.”
Terry’s career in the music and events industry enabled him to set up two event companies which he then sold for millions of pounds. It started from flyering posters and by keeping his head down and working hard this snowballed into a company worth millions. He put the success down to hard work and doing something that he really loved. He said that it didn’t happen overnight and every step which went from him flyering to having his own business took months and years of hard graft.
Terry wants to change the way that the education system speaks about kids’ futures and after becoming successful looks with distaste at an old memory from his school days, he said: “When I was in school I saw the careers officer and told them that I wouldn’t mind certain things. I said I wanted to be a boxing promoter and do something I enjoy.
“Later that week the career officer read out some of the silly ideas that they had been presented with by the children. The career officer read out my plan as one of the silly ones.
“It made me feel worthless and like I wasn’t going to make it. Children and teenagers should be told they can be anything. University isn’t always the way and unless you want to be a doctor or scientist you don’t have to go. Not enough young people are being told they can achieve stuff if they put their mind to it.”
Terry outlined a few quotes that inspired him. He said the phrase ‘find something you love and you’ll never do a day’s work’ resonated strongly with him and another quote young people should know is, “if you believe you can do it you can. If you believe you can’t do it you’re right”.
It was these quotes that Terry kept in mind when he sold his events business and was at a loss with what he wanted to do. He had always been interested in acting and when he told friends or associates his plans to be an actor and producer they laughed.
The laugh was on them and he explained how he took the step into acting: “My first ever acting job was on EastEnders playing the role of Mick alongside Shane Ritchie for only two episodes, but it was a lot of fun. Two episodes of EastEnders, theatre, then I produced films.
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“I just put my mind to it and approached people with my ideas. I was lucky to get the EastEnders role but then a friend told me that he wanted me to star in his film. That kickstarted things.”
Terry has starred in and helped produce a total of more than 22 films. After his friend offered him an acting role things took off. He said that it was self belief, despite what other people thought, that allowed him to make inroads in the media sector.
Terry has gone from a council estate to being worth millions of pounds. His main advice is self belief and to strive after what you enjoy. He finished by saying: “You can do whatever you want to do but you have got to make sacrifices for it. You can achieve it but it’s not going to come overnight, there is no shortcut.”
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