Meredith Fine: Sharing stars with the majors

Youth Impact Report 2011: Primo Percenters

Impact: After steering clients Abigail Breslin and Haley Joel Osment to Oscar noms, she did the same for “True Grit’s” Hailee Steinfeld.
Next: Steinfeld co-stars in “Romeo and Juliet.”
Causes: A supporter of Variety’s Power of Youth initiative since its inception and volunteer with Camp Ronald McDonald.

With such clients as Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Chris Colfer, Haley Joel Osment and Gabriel Basso, Coast to Coast mother hen Meredith Fine is not only protective of her brood, but no-nonsense about the pitfalls in the industry.

“If the child is being pushed too much, the child is not going to do well, and it’s going to be a waste of everyone’s time,” she says. “Some people love to audition and don’t want to do anything else — it’s their heart and passion — but not everyone’s like that.”

In Steinfeld’s case, the 14-year-old Oscar nominee had her feet on the ground from the beginning, according to Fine. Steinfeld studied for an entire year before her mother would allow her to get an agent; only then did she go out and audition. When “True Grit” came along, the young girl was “elated” with the payoff from all of her hard work.

“When Hailee booked ‘True Grit,’ we had a sense of what would be coming, so we made a co-representation (deal) with ICM so we could surround her with more voices and content — to create a team around her,” explains Fine, who shares clients with several adult agencies.

Such arrangements not only protect Fine from poaching by larger agencies (the youth field is one where tenpercenteries interested in beefing up their rosters with big names often try to lure star kids away from boutiques), but also ensures the clients won’t end up stuck with reps who don’t understand their unique needs.

“I’m very involved with them,” Fine says. “I don’t just rep children; I also rep the families, and when you stay with them so long, that passion and familiarity remains.”