Tiauna Jackson has become the first Black woman elected to the Association of Talent Agents, a national trade organization of Hollywood dealmakers.
Jackson, owner of The Jackson Agency and a partner in the newly founded Collective 5 Entertainment, was voted to the board in an election last week. The new board will officially be seated in mid-January.
“I was recruited to join the ATA in the summer of 2020, after which I volunteered to co-chair the racial equality task force, where I helped with issues around diversity and finding Black candidates,” Jackson told Variety.
Jackson said she was surprised to be approached about running for a board seat, and she felt “overwhelmed” at her selection. At her core talent and literary business, Jackson said she’s been entirely “self-taught” throughout her career.
“I was not employable at any other agency,” she said of her early years breaking into the business. “I wasn’t even getting interviews. I had to change my name on my resume to sound less Black, less ethnic.”
Launching with acting talent, Jackson achieved scale at her eponymous agency after hearing the struggles of Black screenwriters, becoming a Writers Guild of America franchise agency as a result. Based in Los Angeles, The Jackson Agency also counts client rosters in New York, Chicago, Georgia and the U.K. In 2019, she participated in a broad story about the struggles of Black talent reps published in The New York Times.
“I’ve had an instance where an unknown Black actress told me flat out that she wanted a white agent. She had no credits. But she knew that to succeed you needed to align yourself with someone white,” Jackson told the Times. “It’s created programming where the only way you can find success is if you align yourself with someone white. This is pretty much what the business model and structure has been.”
For her new venture Collective 5, Jackson has partnered with four other executives — all but one are women, and all are people of color. The endeavor will provide literary and talent representation and include a production division.