UTA's job listing weaves web of hungry hopefuls
A-list actor seeks personal assistant. Car, cell, sense of humor required. Confidentiality a must. Knowledge of fine wines a plus.Email cover letter and resume to… Really want to apply? You’ll need the UTA job list. If you’ve lived in L.A. 16 minutes, perhaps you know it — if not, it’s the classified sheet that everybody who’s anybody who hopes to snag or switch an industry position needs to read, or thinks they do. Many of the jobs listed can’t be found anywhere else- and with the street cred of one of Hollywood’s top agencies backing it up, the list has become an essential source in the showbiz job hunt. Hollywood insiders phone job listings into United Talent Agency. Someone important decides whether said insider is insider enough. If the insider is judged something of an outsider, caller hears: “The list does not exist.” But if the insider’s in, the listing is listed. UTA assistants email the weekly list to friends and acquaintances. It spreads around the country and even tours Europe. Basically, you’ve got to know someone who knows someone who knows someone who works at UTA to get it. Wait. Don’t apply to design school in Kansas just yet. Ask around. Once the list pops up on your screen, face the cold, hard question: Do I really want an entry-level industry job? Am I a quick, thick-skinned, people person with strong sense of story, who can type, thrive on criticism, multi-task, work double-fast, self-start and show affection toward dogs? Nobody knows exactly how the exclusive job list began, or that’s what “Nobody” at UTA will tell you. In fact, company higher-ups will neither confirm nor deny the list’s existence. (By the way, never call the agency seeking want-ad booty — you’ll be dismissed in one click.) Light digging reveals the list was launched roughly 10 years ago. The idea was to organize the vast community of industry assistants, and create a job information network . One UTA assistant, who requested anonymity, shares the sheet with favorite friends and friends of friends moving from the East Coast. “I don’t ever feel uncomfortable about sending (the list) out,” he says. “There is a level of exclusivity, but at the same time a lot of the exclusivity is really not so exclusive after you peel away some layers and get a closer look at it. Everything is based on personal relationships in this business.” When the e-sheet first caught on, the list administrator cut and pasted loads of jobs in a sloppy fashion. Current list-meister Jesse (according to the sheet) retypes and shuffles listings into several categories: executive level (a shortish list), assistant level (a long one), music industry, casting, PR and marketing, New York positions, production jobs, PA gigs and internships. Job posters usually remain anonymous, though cryptic clues abound: “Four-time Emmy winner”; “High-profile film producer“; “Boutique below the line…” You contact posters through coy email addresses like email@example.com. “A lot of times, the really, really good jobs, to be honest, are not on the list,” the anonymous UTA assistant explains. “When they’re sent out they say, ‘Not for list,’ and they go around the company.” Back to the original question: Do you want the jobs that do get posted? Well, if you don’t, lots of people do. In fact, when Steven Jensen of the Independent Group posted an ad last February looking for a manager wannabe, he admonished, “No doctors, firemen or students.” “To see this guy who’s gone through probably 12 years of college come here and make $400 a week to hear me say, ‘Make my dinner reservations at Koi’? I can’t do that,” Jensen says. After earlier UTA postings, he was inundated with impressive resumes that were overqualified mismatches, one of which belonged to a trained psychiatrist. Jensen tried hiring a lawyer as an assistant, but says the woman grew bored with menial tasks and left abruptly. “I’ve gone through a lot of bodies,” Jensen says. “It’s a great opportunity if you carpe diem,” he explains. “My new associate was my assistant for four years and he was right out of college, the first guy who sent me his resume from the job list.” Kenya Knight of Nous Models has posted jobs on Craig’s List and Showbizjobs.com with disappointing results, but says she gets bites through UTA. “I’m looking for me, 15 years ago, fresh out of college, full of interest and desire, a hard worker that wants to give 110% and, believe it or not, that’s harder to find these days.” Still, many ads insist on experienced applicants only. But how tough is it to win the assistant job if you’re green? When one twenty-something scholarleft graduate school three years ago to pursue a Hollywood job, he didn’t know a soul in the entertainment biz. He applied for dozens and dozens of assistant gigs on the UTA list, to no avail. Even now he applies for these jobs on a somewhat regular basis. But he’s always avoided certain ads. “(Some jobs) sounded much more like they were looking for nannies and were pretending that it was a way to get ahead in the entertainment industry, which maybe it is actually,” he says. “That was a road that I was too proud to follow.” Not too proud to follow that road yourself? “Needed: Part time personal assistant for successful writer/producer in Santa Monica. Need help with errands, office work, driving, child care. Must be good with children (ages 10 and 12) and a cheerful person. Looking for Mary Poppins, but singing and dancing not required.” Email resume and cover letter to … Sorry, if you really want to apply — if you really, truly do — you’re gonna need that list.