Hollywood’s New Leaders: 10 Assistants to Watch

Variety‘s Hollywood’s New Leaders profiles those to look out for in the worlds of film, TV, digital and more. For more of the New Leaders, click here.

Moana Casanova, 29 (pictured far right)
Executive assistant, West Coast production, HBO
Casanova joined HBO in New York straight out of college in 2009, then moved to the company’s L.A. office in 2012. She works with senior VP Jeremy Smith. “Our department oversees the production of original films and TV series, including seasons one and two of ‘True Detective,’ Martin Scorsese’s new show ‘Vinyl,’ and we did ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ ‘Treme’ and some pilots,” she reports. Next up: David Simon pilot “The Deuce.” “I want to stay in production and move up to production executive.”

Jenna Faville, 23 (pictured second from the left)
Features coordinator, Worldwide Production Agency (WPA)
Faville began her career interning at the Skouras Agency, then landed at WPA as coordinator in the features department. In 18 months, she’s become an integral part of WPA’s booking machine, working with partner Richard Caleel and agent Louiza Vick with such clients as producers Michael Fottrell (“Furious 7”), Ralph Winter (“The Promise”) and d.p.s Larry Fong and Simon Duggan. “Realizing how much planning, dedication and manpower it takes to create a quality film sparked my desire to learn everything about the industry,” she says.

Hannah Getts, 23 (pictured third from left)
Assistant to Ben Browning, co-president of production and acquisitions, FilmNation Entertainment
Since joining the company in early 2015, Getts has assisted in the production of Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi thriller “Story of Your Life”; Ray Kroc biopic “The Founder,” directed by John Lee Hancock; and Marc Webb’s “Gifted” for Fox Searchlight. She’s also involved in finding projects to finance and distribute, and in the development of the upcoming “Miss Sloane” and Paul Greengrass’ “The Tunnels.” “Indies are my passion and I love the acquisition side,” she says. “That’s where I see myself going.”

Danielle Gilbert, 28 (pictured center)
Executive assistant to Josh Greenstein, president of worldwide marketing and distribution, Sony Pictures Entertainment
After stints at Fox and Leverage Management, Gilbert co-founded OK Done, a personal assistant staffing company, before joining Paramount in 2013 to work for Greenstein, who was chief marketing officer. In late 2014, she moved with Greenstein to Sony. “I started the day before the big hack, so it was pretty crazy,” she says. Gilbert acts as Greenstein’s primary point person. “I love all aspects of marketing, from PR to creative content and international tracking, and I want to work in global operations.”

Crystal Guetterman, 29 (pictured far left)
Assistant, Link Entertainment
Guetterman started as an intern, worked at Principato-Young Entertainment, and five months ago moved from there to Link. In addition to working with such clients as David Marciano (“Homeland”), Ryan Newman (“See Dad Run”), Ayla Kell (“Make It or Break It”) and Jake T. Austin (“The Fosters”), she’s been instrumental in booking major guest star and series regular roles on ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD,” “Blood & Oil” and “Wicked City,” and Syfy’s “12 Monkeys.” “One of my goals is to produce a series that stars one of my clients.”

Ashley Johnson, 27 (pictured second from right)
Executive assistant to chief creative officer Dana Goldberg, Skydance Media
For the past two years, Johnson has assisted on such releases as “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” and “Terminator Genisys,” which have collectively grossed over $1 billion worldwide. Her diverse responsibilities include jobs for the television, publishing, licensing and interactive units. Johnson started as a trainee at UTA, then assistant to the senior VP of production at Columbia Pictures, where she worked on “Men in Black III” and both “Jump Street” films. “I’d love to become a creative executive here, like Dana, and grow with Skydance,” Johnson says.

Alyssa Lanz, 25 (pictured third from right)
Assistant to partner and TV literary agent Dan Erlij, UTA
Lanz began in the mailroom in 2012, quickly moved through the ranks to the digital and TV lit departments, working for partner Mickey Berman and TV literary agent James Kearney. Now at Erlij’s desk, Lanz works with creators, showrunners and writers, including Jennie Snyder Urman, Nick Stoller and Diane Ruggiero-Wright. “UTA’s taught me how to navigate the TV business. It’s exciting with so many more places for creators outside traditional TV, such as Hulu, Amazon, self-publishing platforms like YouTube or Vimeo.”

Nicky Mohebbi, 25 (pictured fourth from left)
Coordinator, motion picture literary, Verve
Talk about an unconventional Hollywood start. The small-town West Virginian graduated with a degree in biochemistry but “took a huge risk” and moved to L.A. to pursue his passion for film. He began as an intern at Verve in 2013, “green and not quite knowing what I wanted to do,” but rapidly rose through the ranks. As founding partner Adam Levine’s assistant, Mohebbi collaborated on deals such as the re-sale of “Medieval” to Sony. He was promoted to motion picture coordinator on his 25th birthday. “My goal is to become an agent here.”

Phil Quist, 27 (not pictured)
Agent trainee, music department, CAA
The former Wall Street investment banker joined CAA in 2012 to pursue his passion for music. After working for Tom Worcester, head of music brand partnerships at the agency, he assisted touring agent Cara Lewis. Quist was promoted into CAA’s agent training program this year and, as assistant to Alex Becket, helped sign such emerging EDM artists as the Chainsmokers, Elephante, Jenaux, Prince Fox, Kungs, GRMM and Speaker of the House. Recently promoted to coordinator, Quist aspires “to be an agent … creating unique, out-of-the-box opportunities for clients.”

Larissa Saenz, 27 (pictured fourth from right)
Account coordinator, BWR Public Relations
After stints in international marketing and publicity at Sierra/Affinity, and assisting Nancy Kirkpatrick, president of worldwide marketing at Summit Entertainment, Saenz joined BWR in summer 2014 and works directly under exec VP of talent Nicole Perna. She coordinates press tours and awards campaigns, and manages client logistics. “I love PR — especially personal PR, and the ultimate perk is being given the career-changing opportunity to have Nicole as my mentor,” Saenz says.

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