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Variety Highlights 2018’s 10 Assistants to Watch

The supporting team for Hollywood’s power players help their bosses while navigating their own careers. Variety selects 2018’s 10 Assistants to Watch

Eni Akintade, seated second from left
Assistant to Rich Klubeck, motion picture literary and talent partner, UTA
The Tufts grad won a spot in the UTA Agent Trainee Program in 2016 and worked for Jonathan Weinstein (who reps Margaret Qualley, Kat Dennings and Anna Camp). Within a year she moved to Klubeck’s desk where she manages logistics and new projects for clients including Angelina Jolie, the Coen brothers, Ewan McGregor and Wes Anderson. She will next work for Amanda Hymson (clients include Carlos Lopez Estrada, Fatih Akin, Marja Lewis Ryan, Janicza Bravo). Selected by senior-level agents and executives to be a member of the assistant committee, Akintade was tasked with leading large-scale charity events including the first Camp UTA fundraiser. “Accepting that there are only 24 hours in a day is always a challenge,” she says.

Delsey Attardi, standing second from left
Coordinator of Branding, Buchwald
Attardi joined as assistant to head of the voiceover promo department. After developing an interest in branding and licensing she moved to assist the head of the branding department. Since her recent promotion to coordinator, she’s closed major brand campaigns for clients at the Grammys, SXSW, Coachella and the Outside Lands Music Festival. In addition to identifying and negotiating endorsements and licensing deals, she creates pitch decks, one-sheets, and electronic press kits for clients. “I am challenged with discovering talent that is brand friendly. I strive to sign clients that have inspirational stories to ensure marketability and create a through-line for the brand’s consumer.”

Ilana Goren, seated left
TV Scripted Department Coordinator, CAA
The UCLA graduate joined as a floater in marketing and TV, and was promoted to assistant to TV agent Michael Rosenfeld dealing with high-profile clients including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Wells, Paul Simms, Lew Morton and Laura Dern. She next assisted Steve Smooke in TV comedy, was tapped as assistant to co-head of TV lit Jacquie Katz, and tasked with scouting new talent and opportunities for existing clients. Now in CAA’s Agent Trainee Program, Goren is responsible for maintaining current projects and grids, integral to new client signing. “I’ve worked closely with colleagues to bring projects or material I’m passionate about directly to clients, enabling me to create meaningful relationships,” she says.

Heather Kinder, standing third from right
Senior executive assistant to Lou Taylor, Tri Star Sports and Entertainment
Kinder’s strategy for maintaining offices in both L.A. and Nashville is to always stay ahead of her boss, Lou Taylor, who built Tri Star Sports and Entertainment from the ground up 26 years ago and boasts clients including Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Steven Tyler. Six years in, Kinder’s day-to-day includes monitoring email inboxes, ensuring Taylor never needs to ask for something twice and even speaking on her behalf. “Because I’ve been with her for so long and we have that good trust between the two of us, I usually know how she’s going to react or think about something,” Kinder says.

Roberto Larios, seated center
Assistant to Amy Beecroft, head of Verve Ventures
The Notre Dame grad began in the mailroom last year, and quickly landed his first desk as assistant to Amy Beecroft. Leaning into the need for more Latin voices in the creative space, he initiated dialogue between Verve and various Latin-focused orgs including NALIP (this year he oversaw a series of writing workshop seminars for aspiring Latin writers) and NHMC. Larios scouts for new and underrepresented voices, covers emerging programs and festivals. “The big challenge is striving to accomplish everything not just on time, but also efficiently while prioritizing what needs to be done versus what I want to do,” he says.

George Olcott, standing center
Administrative Assistant Level III, Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Innovation Studios
Olcott started under Glenn Gainor, “a phenomenal mentor who’s taught me so much about the world of physical production.” He is involved in the tracking and reporting of productions and spearheads their green initiatives on set, with the goal of reducing their carbon footprint. Every film made during his time at Screen Gems has been awarded an Environmental Media Award and “we received our first EMA Gold Seal last year.” Since Gainor was made president of Innovation Studios, “we have been experiencing the cutting edge of cinematic technology and we are very excited to empower artists and creatives by changing the way they can tell stories,” he says.

Brittany Perlmuter, seated second from right
Comedy Talent Coordinator, ICM Partners
The Skidmore College grad was hired in 2013 by Ayala Cohen as an assistant in the comedy department at ICM. Perlmuter was promoted to comedy talent coordinator in 2017, working directly with such clients as Maria Bamford and Taylor Louderman, the 2018 Tony Award nominee and star of “Mean Girls” on Broadway. “Being based in New York City can create communication issues with West Coast colleagues. However its vibrant comedy and theater scenes has allowed me to create a career of which I could only dream,” Perlmuter says.

Samantha Sachs, not pictured
Assistant to Ron Perry, Chairman of Columbia Records
When Sachs was offered the chance to work with Ron Perry, who was upped to chairman/CEO of Columbia Records in January, she didn’t hesitate. “The fact that he’s so young and he’s one of the youngest executives at any of the majors is so inspiring,” she says. At 25, music has never ceased to be a fixture in Sachs’ life, as she attended the Who concerts growing up and studied arts management at Indiana University, Bloomington. Every day is different on the job, from anticipating Perry’s needs to organizing meetings with clients new and old including Adele, Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand. Sachs says Perry has taught her to “always remain true to myself and to never work in fear.”

Matt Jordan Smith, standing left
Executive Assistant Programming and Development, TBS
The L.A. native cut his teeth as an actor-singer (“Newsies,” “Camp Nowhere”) before pivoting into producing the doc “Spanish Lake,” and moving to Paramount where he worked on mega-franchises (“Transformers,” “Star Trek,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Paranormal Activity”) and developed digital platform shows (“Hot Wives of Orlando,” “Burning Love”). After stints with Relativity Television on such shows as CBS’ “Limitless” and Sony Crackle’s “Startup,” he joined TBS where he works in comedy development and original programming on “Final Space,” “Search Party” and “The Last O.G.” “I have the opportunity to function as an executive bringing in new material, taking pitches, and covering current projects and projects in development.”

Nicole Sylva, seated right
Executive Assistant to Scooter Braun at SB Projects
With artists on the SB Projects roster including Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Ariana Grande, Usher and the Black Eyed Peas, Sylva has served as Scooter Braun’s gatekeeper for the past four years. Her duties include navigating touring clients, meetings with record labels, studio sessions and family time for Braun. “One of the main mantras Scooter lives by is don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness. As an assistant I felt that I would always need to ask for permission. However, Scooter empowers me to make executive decisions and encourages me to follow my passion in music sync and licensing,” she says.

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