Director of youth at Cunningham eyes multitalents
Multitalents make all the difference, says agent Mitchell Gossett, director of the youth division at Cunningham Escott Slevin Doherty, who helps transform pint-sized actors, singers and models, among others, into A-list stars.
When interest exploded for client Jesse McCartney (his single “Beautiful Soul” hit while he was starring in WB series “Summerland”), Gossett smelled a trend. Now, for Gossett and his staff (most of whom have master’s degrees in acting), the strategy is to find youth with talent in one area and then develop their skills in another category.
“We negotiated Miley Cyrus to be the first artist to have deals with four areas at the Disney Co.: TV, film, consumer products and recording,” he says.
Studios and networks have come to depend on both Gossett’s pool of reliable child stars (his clients have carried everything from “Veronica Mars” to “Hannah Montana”) and his ability to detect raw talent in untested young performers.
His discovery of inexperienced AnnaSophia Robb supplied the innocence to Walden’s “Because of Winn Dixie.” Gossett was in Denver on one of his scouting treks when he saw Robb audition. “There was one beat while she was reading and she closed her eyes. I saw that she had it: the ability to disappear in a role,” he says.
Gossett’s agenting method draws from his previous careers as actor, director and talent manager. Thus, his clients get a hands-on rep who speaks their language, understands their struggle and can offer credible advice on how to improve their work.
No matter what his clients’ success, Gossett believes part of his role is to show them their value beyond commerce. Sure, he’s excited to have arranged Cyrus’ sold-out 50-city concert tour, but he confides that he’s equally proud “that she is donating part of every ticket sold to charity.”
Recent breakthrough: Counts Miley Cyrus and AnnaSophia Robb among his clients.
Role model: “My father put himself second to the family, always. I strive to be as wise as him.”
What’s next: “I discovered a young actress named Demi Lovato in Texas, and she just booked the lead in Disney’s ‘Rock Camp,’ which we think can be the next ‘High School Musical’ franchise.”