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ICM Partners Names Lorrie Bartlett to Board of Directors

ICM Partners veteran Lorrie Bartlett has been appointed to the company’s board of directors, marking a first for an African-American woman at a major Hollywood talent agency.

Bartlett, a partner and co-head of ICM’s talent department, has emerged as a leader at the agency and in the industry. She was among the early organizers of Time’s Up in late 2017 and serves on its executive board. Bartlett has also become a prominent voice in the creative community’s efforts to advocate for diversity and inclusion at all levels of the business.

Bartlett is the fourth woman to be named to ICM’s 12-member board, alongside publishing department stalwarts Esther Newberg and Jennifer Joel and TV production department co-head Janet Carol Norton.

“I have been very proud of the way our company has expanded and grown in a really gender-neutral way,” Bartlett told Variety. ICM Partners was among the first industry players to commit to the 50-50 by 2020 pledge, or a vow to ensure that 50% of leadership roles at the agency are held by women by next year. At present ICM said that 50% of its employees are female, and about half of its 22 departments are headed or co-headed by women.

“Lorrie has been a huge voice in our company for a long time,” Chris Silbermann, ICM Partners managing director, told Variety. “We love her passion as an agent and her big-picture strategy,”

Bartlett is respected for her keen eye for talent. Her prominent clients at present include the red-hot multi-hyphenate Regina King, who has won three Emmys in three years and branched out into directing, in addition to being an Oscar contender for her role in Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Other notables on Bartlett’s roster include Michael Keaton, Ruth Negga, Anna Gunn, Laverne Cox, Linda Cardellini and Busy Philipps.

Bartlett said her milestone appointment for the agency business has come at a moment when the entertainment industry is focused on inclusion and diversity at all levels. The challenge is to build on the momentum born of the #MeToo struggle and the heightened awareness of the stubborn lack of meaningful progress at the leadership level for women and minorities.

“We need to change the narrative on the way people think about the way to go about hiring people,” Bartlett said. “Inclusion is no longer an after-thought for companies. And there’s no room for complacency.”

Bartlett noted that ICM has made a point of recruiting in underserved communities include through the network of HBCU schools. It’s important step simply to educate youths about the array of jobs available in the production arena.

“This job opportunity just doesn’t come naturally to some people,” Bartlett said. “We have to create this pipeline so that there’s not just one female gaffer on a set and not just one female assistant director on a set. We want those numbers to change.”

Bartlett also pointed to the work the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund has begun as a sign of commitment to change from the entertainment industry. About 4,000 women have contacted Time’s Up for legal assistance of some kind in the months since the fund has been up and running. The effort is  administered with the National Women’s Law Center and funded by seven-figure donations from entertainment industry.

“The idea that we’re able to help women give voice to whatever trauma or misconduct or harassment they encountered in their workplace, and give them options and an attorney to help figure out the best solution — that’s been incredible,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett joined ICM in 2008 after a 16-year tenure as an agent at Gersh. She got her start working for another pioneering tenpercenter, Joan Hyler, at WMA in the early 1990s.

“She was incredible in the sense that she just had to go do it” in an extremely male-dominated field, Bartlett said. “Watching her, seeing the way she handled clients — I thought ‘This is a job that would be interesting to me.’ “

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