If an agent is measured by his or her ability to propel a client to the next level, consider Tracey Jacobs a master. Throughout her 11-year tenure at UTA as a talent point person, packager and partner, Jacobs has transitioned her clients — Johnny Depp, Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman to name a few — to greater heights.
For Depp, an actor for whom no challenge seems too daunting, Jacobs has helped extend the “Public Enemies” star’s resume to producer after assisting with the brokerage of his next two productions under his Infinitum Nihil banner: “Dark Shadows,” a Tim Burton-helmed gothic vampire tale, and the bigscreen adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s “Rum Diary.”
Jacobs credits such maneuvers to “common sense,” i.e., lining up the client with the appropriate material, cast and director. But Jacobs’ work doesn’t end with the creative elements. Equally important is her hands-on involvement with studio marketing and distribution teams.
“From day one when my client is attached, I’m involved with speaking to the heads of these departments; all of whom are incredibly smart,” Jacobs says. “It’s essential that they’re behind the client.”
Jacobs’ ability to capably navigate showbiz waters, not just during boom times but in the midst of the current recession, helped earn her a recent appointment to UTA’s six-member board, the first woman to hold that distinction since the agency’s inception. Signing Oscar winners Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim Robbins along with Jennifer Lopez, Emmy winner Megan Mullally and U.K. actor-writer Simon Pegg certainly added to her cachet.
With majors greenlighting fewer films, Jacobs says, “Agents are acting like mini-studios. We’re expected to make packaging easier. The days of first-dollar gross and giant paydays have mostly been replaced by pool deals and complex backends.”
When Jacobs isn’t brokering the next franchise deal for an A-lister, she enjoys putting the brakes on her fast-paced career. “I’m a Midwesterner,” she says. “What little time I have for myself, I like to live as normally as possible.”
IN A NUTSHELL
Job title: UTA board member, partner and co-head of talent
Mentor: Former ICM iconic agent Sam Cohn
Career mantra: “Play fair even when those around you don’t.
Leisure pursuits: “Anything that involves dogs, children, Pilates or hanging out with friends.”
Philanthropic passions: “Children and animals.”