When ChiChi Anyanwu launched her new company Chi Talent Management, a couple of things made her new shingle stand out. For one thing: She launched it in the middle of a pandemic, when most of the news coming out of the theater business, and the entertainment industry in general, was (and remains) pretty grim. And as she’s well aware, she’s one of the very few Black agents, managers or casting directors in the business — and setting up her own company, with a roster focused on diverse voices and talent, felt like an important step in an industry working toward making all aspects of the business more inclusive.
Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:
“I wanted to create the kind of management company that I didn’t see in the industry,” Anyanwu said on the latest episode of Stagecraft, Variety‘s theater podcast. “The reality is, I only know one Black female manager that’s based in New York, and then I know probably about five Black agents or Black managers in the city. … I wanted to take that leap of faith to figure out: How can I be part of the solution, as opposed to the problem of the lack in diversity behind the scenes?”
Part of her goal, she added, is to be someone young people just getting into the industry can look to — and the kind of role model she didn’t have in the early days of her career. “When I came up as an agent or when I worked in casting before that, there were very few people who looked like me,” she explained. “There was no one I could email as a mentor. I’m hoping that people will see my face and [that it will] inspire more people of color to think, ‘Oh, maybe I can be an agent or a manager or a casting director.'”
Chi Talent Management currently has a roster of about 30 clients, many of whom work regularly in the theater. In the pandemic, however, only one of them has a stage gig: an outdoor production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in the U.K. For the rest, Anyanwu is organizing career development and financial advice workshops, while encouraging several of her clients to explore writing the kind of work they’d like to see on stages and on screens when the industry gets back up and running. “I want to make sure that I’m keeping my clients motivated,” she said.
New episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week. Download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, the Broadway Podcast Network or wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Past episodes are available here and on Apple Podcasts.