I see my reflection in my daughter’s eyes. I had a necklace made several years ago inscribed with the words ‘courage’, ‘faith’ and ‘a mother’s love’. It’s ‘a mother’s love’ that precipitate my life’s choices and how I choose to govern myself.
As a child, I was motivated by my parents love. Born and raised in Toronto, I learned at a young age the value of love, family, community and tradition – not things. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate nice things, I just have no desire to accumulate – and avoid clutter in my home, personal and professional life. I have a twin brother, I affectionately refer to as my ‘womb mate’ and 2 older brothers. Being the only daughter reinforced the nurturer in me. It’s in my blood to be a caregiver. I’ve always wanted to effect social change in a big, positive way but have yet to realize that potential. I have recognized that I can effect positive change one person at a time. So that’s a mission of mine. Smile often, take the time to listen and bring a sense of humanity to each day and personal encounter. It is with these principles that I have developed a wonderful roster of actors who I represent for tv, film and theatre. I keep my roster small in order to provide the best level of service possible but also to be able to bring a level of humanity to an industry not necessarily known for its sense of humanity. As a manager, I dot my i’s and cross my t’s. In my personal time it’s the cross, jabs and uppercuts that I love the most. A far cry from the ballerina of my childhood my adult passion is boxing. For the past 8 years my secret indulgence is private training twice a week with boxing as the main component. In addition to all the benefits boxing provides, it has made me a better negotiator.
I graduated York University with a BFA in theatre directing. I was the only person accepted into the final year of the program. As a woman in 2018 raising a daughter, I am reflective, and only now, recognize the importance of that achievement. I knew I could bring my skill set to managing actors all the while nourishing both my creative spirit and business sense.
I have been an agent for 28 yrs. For the last 14 years I have been at Fountainhead Talent, a boutique agency in Toronto, recognized for our expertise in representing actors for film, tv, theatre and voice work.
- I hold dear the value of words and hope I choose them wisely.
- I appreciate putting pen to paper, and do so often.
- I cherish my family and friendships.
- I treasure my husband Brad and our daughter Joey.
After pursueing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing you set out as a Talent Agent and have beeen representing actors for film, TV and stage for over 24 years. What’s the most unexpected thing you have experienced in the film business?
The onset of reality tv….followed by the social media storm. Not sure many of us saw the shift coming and the impact it would have on our business. Celebrity has changed how we view actors – and ‘new media’ has altered how we choose to create and view our shows and movies.
I think studios, producers, distributors, unions, agents – all deal makers, are still trying to figure it out.
How do you spot talent? What is that special ingredient these people have that you need to identify?
You know spotting talent is a personal thing. Spotting talent means listening to my gut and relying on my theatre education, experience, and understanding of what the market place is bearing at any moment. Acting is an art. Professional Acting brings a new element and that’s….business. That ‘special ingredient’ or ‘it’ factor as they say, is a combination of so many things; but what it comes down to, ultimately, for me, is an actor’s EQ. Self awareness, social awareness, and an understanding of relationships is what acting is all about.
Best thing about your job?
My clients. I have represented some of them for over 20 years. I’ve seen my child actors buy their first bike, then motorcycle, then car; then came marriage, babies – and for others I’ve watched them bring their kids up and before I knew it they had become grandparents. I’ve seen so many clients through happy times and life’s struggles. As much as you try to set boundaries it’s hard to do when you are in daily contact and managing their livelihood. It is a huge responsibility and one I don’t take lightly. I am sister, mother, psychologist – and I honor that. I am grateful to my clients for entrusting me with their careers and the best thing is being witness to their cycle of life.
Worst thing about your job?
Having to tell a client that they didn’t get a job they were close to getting. Losing out on a test deal is particularly tough.
Delivering that news never gets easier.
You and your husband Brad Pelman are both in the film industry, do you think your daughter may fallow in your footsteps?
Absolutely. She loves everything about the business. She is wonderfully creative, perceptive and ‘in the know’. She keeps Brad and I current.
Where do you think the movie industry is heading? Do you believe we will now begin to see more women in leadership roles as the pendulum swings and shifts us out of the patriarchy with bolder women speaking up about their place in the world and the workplace?
I’d like to feel more optimistic about the movie industry but I’m not sure. I don’t think movie theatres will exist as we currently know them to be. It will take a lot to get people to leave their homes for a shared movie experience….it’s also increasingly expensive to the viewer and studios continue to lose money.
I believe that the past is ‘his’tory and women are now standing in solidarity having their voices heard.
Hota Kotb has just been hired to replace Matt Lauer alongside Savannah Guthrie as NBC’s morning anchors. This is the first time in the networks almost 66 years of a morning show to have all women cohosts.
Powerful women in Hollywood have come together to form a group called ‘Time’s Up’ with multiple objectives, one being, 50/50 by 2020, hoping to get entertainment companies and organizations to reach gender parity in 2 years.
The future, I have to believe, will be ‘her’story.
Favourite city in the world?
Teetotaler or something stronger?
Teatotaler until it’s 5’oclock somewhere.
Most recent indulgence?
Laurence Dacade booties
Walk, bike or drive?
I love to walk…until I have to drive….never bike.
Who is the one person in the world you would like to sit beside on a long flight and what would you ask her or him? (Or maybe you already did and have a happy story….)
My maternal grandmother. I delivered a eulogy for my grandmother when she passed away at 101. I was her only granddaughter and with each stage of life my fascination and respect for her grew. From the outside, most people may have thought of her to be a simple woman. She rarely left far from her home once arriving here from Poland. She lived through two World Wars. I’d like to know how she did it; how she felt coming to a new land where she knew no one and didn’t know the language. I’d like to tell her how very brave I felt she was. We never talked about it, but I marvel at what she would have seen during her lifetime; death, destruction, fear, love, rebirth, horses to cars to planes… the onset of technology…..With no formal education she seemed eager to learn and I’ve often wondered if only another time, another place. I’d like her to know that because of her I now understand that living by the most basic of virtues yield the strongest lessons and greatest sense of fulfillment. She was a fabulous cook, had a green thumb and a priceless sense of humour. In the age of consumerism she never uttered ‘I want’ or ‘I need’…only I wish…and it was always ‘I wish for you’….
I’d like to sit next to her on the plane and ask her all the questions I wish I had the foresight to ask, but it took me growing up and becoming a mother to know I desperately want to know so much about her. I’d like to give a voice to her thoughts and feelings.
I’d hold her arthritic hands in mine, which to this day, are the most beautiful hands I have ever seen and I’d tell her….’now I understand why you would call every morning to make sure my brothers and I were wearing our undershirts’.
What would advice would you give people interested in pursueing acting?
It’s a journey, not a destination.
I’m a ‘quoteaholic’ – always sending quotes to family and friends.
Hard to narrow it down but gotta go with Ellen…’be kind to one another’.
Movie you can’t wait to watch.
Shape of Water
Favourite cause, group or activist?