Fill us in. How did you break into the industry?
“I actually was a teacher when I graduated from college, for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders with emotional problems and learning disabilities. This is 12-plus years ago, so there was no Google or any search engines, and CAA didn’t exist in New York. I had a friend that worked at CAA, and she told me that this desk was open, and this agent represented Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, and all of these amazing actors, and I thought, 'Well, I should just go work for him. That’s like the perfect job. I love entertainment and I love movies.' And, naively, I just called HR and said, 'I’m going to move to L.A. and I want to work for this agent, Kevin Huvane,' and I didn’t know he was the owner of the company. They kind of blew me off and said, 'Call us when you get here.' So, I kept calling them every time I looked for apartments and flew out here. Basically, I called his office directly, and said, 'I know someone who works there, and it’s been two months and you haven’t filled this position. Meet me for a drink, and if you hate me, you never have to see me again.' Shockingly, they did. And, I got hired the next day by Kevin, which is totally crazy. I think it’s better that I didn’t know exactly who he was at the time, because I probably wouldn’t have been as persistent as I was. It was almost ‘ignorance is bliss’ in that case.”
So, once your foot was in the door, what were the next steps to become an agent?
“I kind of had a very unconventional path. I’m actually one of the only people to have never been to the mailroom. I worked for the owner of the company for almost eight years. And, finally, I decided that I was going to give being an agent a try, even though I had told everyone I ever met that I would never be an agent.”
What pushed you to make that change in your career?
“My boss, actually. I was very much like, 'I’m a woman, and I want to have kids, and I can’t balance all those things.' He said something insightful and yet very simple, which was, 'Do you have any?' I said no, and he said, 'Well, why don’t you worry about it when you do,' which hadn’t occurred to me. Like, that it was a possibility, to A. have both, and B. that I could be 10 years away from having a child. It just had never occurred to me that I wasn’t going to have a baby the next day. It’s very poignant advice. That’s sort of when I decided to make the move.”
What’s your day-to-day workday look like? What are some big projects you work on year-to-year?
“Always changing, because the business is always changing. Negotiating deals, making calls, trying to get jobs for my clients. CAA is very team-oriented, so we sort of get credit for getting other people’s clients [work], too, so you’re compensated for all of it. There’s no internal conflict because everyone’s compensated for helping everybody else. There’s no two days alike — fortunately and unfortunately.”
What makes a very successful relationship between your clients and you? What qualities do you have that make you successful in this industry?
“I’ve got like a New York, ‘no one’s gonna tell me no’ attitude. If you tell me no, I have you on the phone. I’m going to get it done. So, I sort of just don’t take no for an answer. If I have to go around and about, I’ll figure out how to do it. I fight for my clients. I believe in them and am passionate about them, and so it’s easy to fight the fight. I really think I work harder than a lot of people, which I think gives me an advantage. I really try to get ingrained in their lives because really, at this point, I only sign people I believe in and am really passionate about, so it’s really easy to get ingrained in their lives. It’s a relationship. My husband’s an actor, so I get what that relationship’s supposed to look like, and I take it almost too personally sometimes. But, it’s very personal to me, their failures and their successes.”
When you’re looking to work with new clients, what makes you see possibility in an unknown actor? What qualities do you look for?
“It can’t be qualified. It’s sort of an indescribable trait. I’m not always right. But, for the people I’ve signed, I’ve seen something they’ve done, and I saw ‘it’ — whatever ‘it’ is. It’s sort of different for everybody, what that ‘it’ is, but something draws me. And, I’m a pretty harsh critic, so if something’s drawing me, there’s something to it. I trust my gut.”
It’s not an easy thing to do.
“It’s not, believe me. And, I’ve been wrong. I’ve been wrong almost as many times as I’ve been right. But, that’s the nature of the business. Sometimes, I think I’m right and the business just hasn’t caught up yet. It’s a race, not a sprint. So, when I sign someone, I’m in it for the long haul. I’m not in it for the job in six months — I’m looking to be with them for 60 years. It’s more about the long-term play.”
Do you have any advice for young people looking to become agents?
“It’s definitely a lifestyle. It’s 24/7, for the most part. But, I would say, if that’s your dream, follow it. It’s so much fun. As far as getting to work with the people I admire, it’s amazing. I got turned down 15 times. So, keep plowing away. It’s an incredibly rewarding job.”
Have there been any memorable people that you’ve worked with?
"I really love everyone that I work with. Everyone’s different, everyone has a different style and personality, and that’s sort of the fun of it, navigating it. I get to be really bossy and crass with Chelsea Handler, who I adore, love, and has been amazing to me, and Miley Cyrus, I get to be [different] — I get to be different ways with different people, and that’s fun.”
Look 1: American Apparel turtleneck; Chadwick Bell top; Zara hat; Vince shoes.
Look 2: Margaux Lonnberg dress; Topshop shoes; Alexis Bittar cuff.