Learn how one of the largest talent agencies in the world functions
Talent agencies grew in the past decades alongside an ever emerging entertainment industry. A hundred years ago, few could have forecasted such an incredible evolution of this market. The same way people freaked out about CDs ruining the market for floppy disks, vinyls posing a risk for selling tickets at concerts or television threatening cinematography or theater, it is possible that in earlier times some might have felt intimidated by a more and more populated professional scene in the field of talent. The beginning of talent agencies expanding especially in the United States didn’t crush the industry, and now the skills of agents worldwide keep things going properly. The existence of talent aggregators basically supported a giant evolution of connections and perhaps propose real filtering of talented artists from amateurs with big dreams ahead of themselves.
Like in any industry, there are giant players and smaller fish. One of the biggest talent agencies in the world is United Talent Agency, having offices in Beverly Hills, New York City and California. The agency provides talent and literary recognition for diverse professional occupations in the field of entertainment and culture. Actors, directors, producers, writers, recording artists find representatives – but not only. The agency represents even IP rights holders, emerging technology entrepreneurs, companies or brands activating in digital media, computer and video games, fine arts, intellectual property, voice overs, provides branding, consulting, licensing, endorsement and entertainment marketing. Among UTA’s clients are Angelina Jolie, Susan Sarandon, Owen Wilson, Johnny Depp, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford or Gwyneth Paltrow.
A Bit of History
United Talent Agency was founded back in 1991 after two agencies merged and started with 26 agents. Among its first packages on shows were Married With Children and The Simpsons and some of its first clients were the Coen brothers, Larry David (Seinfeld writer and creator), actors Bridget Fonda and Alan Alda. Competition was backfiring from William Morris Agency and Creative Artists Agency, but UTA was primarily formed with focus on writer clients and soon gathered a roster of professionals working in film and television. As a sort of chronological bookmark, Jim Carrey, then-represented by UTA, was the first star to receive a $20 million salary for a film for “The Cable Guy”. UTA expanded its core practice through adding several new domains, like music, video gaming and corporate consulting. A new partner came along in 1998, when Tracey Jacobs joined UTA and brought some relevant clients to the business. That was when stars like Johnny Depp, Joan Cusack or Vincent D’Onofrio joined the team. Later in 2001 recording artists have been added to the roster, like Celine Dion.
Ups and Downs
UTA was on the up and up until 2009. The agency was partially confronted with economic collapse. In 2006, the agency started to identify and represent Internet content creators emerging and included in UTA’s dedicated online division. At that moment, UTA was the first major agency in the broadband era to launch this dedicated division. Some clients became early leaders in the digital space, like Ask a Ninja or Big Fantastic. UTA alongside an Internet-based advertising agency launched an independent studio for digital entertainment, which had to shut down operations three years later. In the present moment, UTA is again on full speed ahead, with twelve agents leaving the CAA comedy department in favor for the above mentioned agency. Five of them were immediately made partners. Comedy clients joined as a consequence to this change, like Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis or Chris Pratt.
Write This Down
If you didn’t know this already, UTA is famous for its Job List, where one can find a list compiled by the agency with entry-level jobs and internships. This list is accessible only by networking, but it sums up the essential available positions for beginners or intermediates. It’s a great place to put careers in pole position, and their website also offers a dedicated page: http://www.unitedtalent.com/careers/.
Not Only Performance Oriented Services
Starting with 2012, United Talent provides strategic brand consulting to various clients from the corporate environment, ranging from established luxury or lifestyle brands to technology start-ups. Every tangent service is offered in regards to branding: naming, identity systems and brand experience development, with a focus on a narrative approach to branding and a monster research beforehand. The brainiacs behind this department are veterans who worked with NFL, Disney, Microsoft or MasterCard.
The United Talent Agency formed The UTA Foundation, a non-profit foundation aiming to guide its employees in effective and rewarding philanthropic activity. The Foundation also strives to provide strategic counsel to UTA clients on all levels from local to international.
United Talent Agency is a company many a talent would give anything to work with, from their Agent Training Program to internships or full jobs in the entertainment industry. If you however don’t manage to get in, don’t be disappointed, but keep trying to remark yourself and perhaps start with a smaller agency and develop an evolution gradually, in time. Keep in mind that you need to be prepared for every step along your path and no abrupt changes are beneficial to your acting or writing experience. Challenging yourself as a beginner can lead to a huge emotional distress, which can affect your future negatively. On a more optimistic note, consider that the agency can only become more and more powerful by the time you’re ready to shake hands.
Also, if you are an emerging artist or a talented game developer, a writer or a director, you could benefit from a smaller agency’s expertise as long as you make a good pick. Escalating the industry’s levels demands wisdom and experience, which cannot ever be bought or sold. Early fame is known to have affected talented artists, and you wouldn’t want your name to be around that list. If you intend on being an agent, usually big agencies fish for talent agents who already have steady clients among the stars or at least one strong client. If you get there, don’t worry, people will contact you and find your email or phone number. So, take it easy and keep researching until you find a combination of factors to increase your experience.