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Bymel, O’Neill wage wattage on social causes

Management 360 partners rep conscientious clients

The intersection of celebrity, career and cause is now part of the Hollywood template, but Suzan Bymel and Evelyn O’Neill have proved that there is a method behind the message.

The partners in Management 360 boast a client list that includes Reese Witherspoon, Salma Hayek, Julianne Moore and Anne Hathaway as well as Jake Gyllenhaal and Kiefer Sutherland.

With clients suffering from no lack of instantaneous scrutiny, Bymel and O’Neill have shown how that attention can be steered to the greater good.

Moore, for instance, has been an artist ambassador for Save the Children. Witherspoon has been a spokeswoman for Avon Products, for which she introduced her own fragrance, but she also has been a visible voice in the company’s philanthropic efforts to support breast cancer research.

The pitfalls are readily apparent when stars take on such pursuits. But the most difficult challenge may be crafting careers that balance commercial choices with social consciousness, distinctive roles that could withstand the whims and trends of the industry. It is no coincidence that Witherspoon, for example, has portrayed women of strength with modern values, or that Hayek has been at the crux of the Latin crossover.

“It is the balance of making commercial choices, and also making choices that resonate for you on a creative level and also a socially conscious level,” Bymel says. “For whatever reason, those were the clients we kept attracting, and it also reflected our interests as well.”

Bymel, who grew up in a household of idealistic concerns, launched a firm out of her West Hollywood condo in 1985. With an education at Harvard and UCLA on her resume, O’Neill joined her several years later, overqualified but anxious to make ends meet. What they quickly discovered was that their goals were in sync, as was also the case when they joined with a cadre of other partners to form Management 360 in 2002.

“It is not that you are sitting down with an actor and saying, ‘OK, you have to sit down and pick a cause so you will look better in the tabloids,'” O’Neill says. “We are interested in cultural impact, and we are drawing people to us who are interested in their cultural impact, in everything from what stories they are telling and what those stories are saying about them.”

IN A NUTSHELL

Suzan Bymel

Job title: Partner, Management 360

Mentor: Robert Maurer

Career mantra: “To create extraordinary opportunities for artists.”

Leisure pursuits: “Interior design and walking my dogs on the beach.”

Philanthropic passion: CARE

Evelyn O’Neill

Job title: Partner, Management 360

Mentor: Suzan Bymel

Career mantra: “Cultural impact — all the stories we tell matter.”

Leisure pursuits: Beach or trail run

Philanthropic passion: “Finding new ways for clients to be effective advocates for causes they believe in.”

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