Talent Agent Uses Perseverance, Savvy to Represent Hollywood's Elite - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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1022_Tracy Christian


Just like actors perform to evoke a reaction, the talent agents who represent them can be passionate, stubborn, loyal, and cunning, but they use these qualities to convince directors that their client, the actor, really is the character that he seeks.

Tracy Christian not only represents a talented client list which includes celebrity entertainers like actors Michael Kenneth Williams, from HBO’s “The Wire,” former “Cosby” kid Lisa Bonet, and rapper/actor Busta Rhymes, but she considers them family.

But 12 years ago, when friends told her that she would be a perfect talent agent, Christian wasn’t convinced. As the owner of a promotional modeling agency that signed temporary beauties for trade events such as car shows, she felt “like a pimp.” She wanted to try something different, but she didn’t feel educated enough and was extremely intimidated by what she initially saw as a profession for knowledgeable and culturally sophisticated white men.

She wasn’t entirely wrong. An internship at Hollywood’s most prominent agencies lasted only two weeks. She quit when she discovered that of several hundred agents, only one was African American. Also driving that decision was the fact that the only women she saw were receptionists, and there were very few black clients.

But the short experience taught the San Francisco native more about the talent agent industry, and she realized her fears stemming from inexperience were unfounded and this was a business that she would not only enjoy but succeed at.

She then found an apprenticeship at a boutique talent agency that represented classically trained actors such as those who attended Julliard and Yale. Her previous experience managing models had been extremely lucrative–not only putting her through college at California State University in Los Angeles and the University of Southern California, but also allowing her to purchase rental property before the age of 20.

However, knowing that the industry required that she “pay her dues,” she took a significant pay cut earning less than $400 a week to work the job. Christian, a history major, became a full fledged agent six months later –a feat that generally takes three to six years–and she ended up working for the company, which she declines to name, for almost eight years. Now as an agent at Don Buchwald and Associates, Christian, who won’t tell her age, but says she attended high school in the late eighties, earns well into six figures.

Increasing diversity behind the scenes in Hollywood, has been a challenge of the industry for decades.  BlackEnterprise.com spoke to Christian to learn more about how interested African Americans can get a foot in the door without breaking a leg.

BlackEnterprise.com: As a talent agent, what is it that you do?

Tracy Christian: I’m in the sales industry but my wares are artists. My job is to convince decision makers — producers, studio execs, casting directors –  that they need to hire my client. Once I get the offer, then I have to negotiate the job’s parameters and fee structure. I keep my client list small and I only represent actors who I intend on representing for the next 20 years; people whose talent consistently blows me away.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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