With an innate ability for spotting young, raw talent and a roster of hot teenage stars including “Hairspray’s” Elijah Kelley, “Disturbia’s” Aaron Yoo and “Halloween’s” Scout Taylor-Compton, agent Sarah Shyn has become one of the most influential players in Hollywood, a town she’s always been part of.
“I grew up here with a lot of child actors, and early on I knew I wanted to be either an agent or a casting director,” she says. “So after college, I got a job at Pakula/King & Associates, then did some casting work with Artz/Cohen and finally decided agenting was my calling.”
Shyn joined CAA for two years, then moved to the Osbrink Agency, where she found her niche: “They focused on young talent, and they asked me to run their teen department. As much as I loved CAA, it felt like a sign for me, as I’ve always recognized young talent early on. It’s just this knack I have that I can’t explain.”
A year ago, Gersh hired Shyn away. “But it wasn’t about moving to a bigger agency so much as being able to do what I love and create more opportunities for my clients, as well as develop young talent,” she notes. Along with her gift comes a lot of hard work and dedication. “You read everything out there. Most of my clients, though they’re very young, have very particular tastes. They’re not typical teen clients. They’re driven by material, not necessarily big studio projects.”
Her recipe for success? “I always go by three things — the right look, whatever that might be; talent, which is huge; and if they can work the room — because the truth is, you can have talent and looks, but that won’t always get you the job. The call-back is for that person with that natural charm and ability to make people comfortable.”
Recent breakthrough: “Getting Elijah Kelley the role in ‘Hairspray.’ It took some work to get him the audition. He wasn’t an automatic first choice.”
Role model: “Kevin Huvane at CAA. He’s a huge role model for me, and I learned the majority of what I do from him.”
What’s next: “Dana Davis is a new series regular on NBC’s ‘Heroes’ this year.”