In the ego-driven, often ruthless world of talent representation, it’s easy to lose sight of the sensitive, nurturing aspect of the profession. “I really enjoy being an agent,” says Risa Gertner, who for more than 10 years has co-headed CAA’s motion picture literary department. “And I think a lot of agents don’t necessarily like their work. But it’s extremely gratifying for me to promote someone and see their careers take off.”
Of course, Gertner didn’t get to where she is by just being warm and fuzzy. She happily admits to having “very, very strong opinions.” Under her leadership, the department has grown to become a consistent market leader, with such clients as Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Tony Gilroy and Paul Haggis dominating at both the box office and during awards season.
“As you’d expect at an agency, there’s a lot of very strong, driven personalities, and to be able to get everyone pulling in the same direction and supporting each other is no small feat,” she says. “I think I have a knack for that.”
Deal highlights for Gertner this year include Tony Goldwyn’s “Conviction, ” “which we worked on for eight years before Fox Searchlight picked it up,” she says. “Tony Gilroy’s back writing the fourth installment of ‘Bourne’ for Universal, and Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman are doing the ‘Dark Tower’ project after several months of groundbreaking negotiating — groundbreaking because it’s a movie and TV series happening back to back.”
So what keeps Gertner hungry? “Working with such tremendous talent and watching them create new and exciting work,” she says. “And finding and promoting new agents.”