A surprising number of teen stars hail from Texas, and no small number of them — including Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Mitchel Musso, Johnny Simmons, Hunter Parrish, Kenny Baumann, Madison Pettis and Debby Ryan — have agent Jennifer Patredis to thank for getting their start in Hollywood.
The equation works both ways, actually, as it was Patredis’ eye for such kids that motivated the Dallas-born tenpercenter’s own move to Los Angeles, where she now works at CESD. Patredis began her career as an assistant at the Kim Dawson Agency in Dallas, where owner Lisa Dawson “took a chance on me and let me bring my own approach to the position,” she says.
When the company’s kid rep left abruptly, Patredis accepted the position, not realizing she’d have to earn the respect of skeptical parents who weren’t sure about trusting a 22-year-old agent. “One mom wouldn’t even put my name on her kid’s resume at the start,” she remembers. That mom was local acting coach Cathryn Sullivan, “who oddly enough contributed the most to my success, as we worked together developing talent such as Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez,” whom Patredis booked on their first pilots.
And though her eight-year tenure in Dallas came to an end last year when CESD beckoned, Patredis still scouts talent back in Texas. Mitchell Gossett, who headhunted Patredis (and now works at UTA), calls her “a kindred spirit who deserved a chance to play in the big leagues.”