HWA is the booking agent for such heavyweights on the gabfest circuit as Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, Gloria Steinem, Stacey Abrams, Henry Kissinger, Ronan Farrow and many others.
HWA, which has about 45 employees, will continue to operate autonomously out of its New York offices. WME’s existing speakers unit will be integrated into HWA, headed by president Don Walker and managing director Ellen Kazis-Walker.
The deal marks another expansion of Endeavor’s holdings in the talent representation arena. The company on Thursday announced the appointment of industry veteran Lloyd Braun as the top executive overseeing all of Endeavor’s agency holdings, including WME, IMG Models and a handful of other fashion-focused firms.
“The Harry Walker Agency has been the gold standard for almost 75 years,” said Endeavor CEO Ariel Emanuel. “Their standard of excellence has long been imitated, but never replicated, and we’re proud to welcome them to the Endeavor family.”
The goal is for HWA to use its considerable expertise in the speakers market to benefit WME’s deep bench of creative talent.
“HWA and their speakers will now benefit from the global reach and resources of WME and the broader Endeavor network,” said WME president Ari Greenburg. “Additionally, the HWA team brings expertise and relationships that will strengthen our ability to support the world’s leading storytellers.”
Endeavor has been through a period of turbulence in the past few months amid the industry-wide battle between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood’s major talent agencies. Endeavor had planned to raise a significant amount of new capital with an IPO that was pulled at the last minute in September.
The investment in HWA and hiring of Braun are signals that Endeavor intends to stay firmly rooted in the talent representation sector despite industry speculation about plans for a spinoff of restructuring of agency units and the rest of Endeavor’s content-focused businesses. The blending of talent representation and content production under Endeavor’s roof has been a flashpoint for the WGA in its campaign to reform the rules that govern agents who represent guild members.
The addition of HWA gives Endeavor a much bigger footprint in a lucrative arena. The company’s roots date to 1946. Walker and Kazis-Walker will remain at the helm of HWA. The pair described Endeavor as “the perfect partner.”
“In joining forces with WME, we’re able to create more opportunities for our speakers across the broad gamut of the marketplace of ideas, including books, podcasts and television,” Walker and Kazis-Walker said. “We will now offer event planners a broader array of speakers across television, sports, film, music and media.”