For the average film and television viewer, the main focus of a show or a movie is the actor. They might also pay attention to the sets, the music, and the camera work, but the actors almost always gain the most attention. But what many viewers don’t think about is the team of people behind each of those actors: the managers, agents, publicists, and anyone else whose job it is to help those actors navigate their careers. It’s these people who ensure that those actors make it to the screen. It’s companies like Play Management that, in the general world, work very hard for very little credit.
Play Management, a boutique talent agency, has just celebrated their tenth anniversary as a leading force in the entertainment world. Founded in Vancouver, Play Management works with actors such as Jacob Tremblay (Room), Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica), Amanda Crew (Silicon Valley), and many more. Now, ten years after setting down roots in Vancouver, Play Management is expanding; a new office has just opened in Atlanta, Georgia.
With ten years under their belt and an exciting expansion to the United States, The Hudsucker sits down with founding partner Trina Allen-Abt to talk about the industry today, the exciting changes within her company, and the future of Play Management.
The Hudsucker: How would you describe your agency? What do you do that the average person might not be aware of?
Trina Allen-Abt: We are an agency that handles film, television, voice-over, commercial, and literary work, and we have a very managerial approach to how we do business. Depending on the development level of the talent, we assume either the role of agent or manager, or even both when needed. We are very hands-on and involved in long-term, strategic discussions with our clients in the way that managers are, but can also handle the day-to-day agent responsibilities of negotiating contracts and procuring auditions. We are able to add value wherever it’s needed and customize our role to the needs of each individual client. We offer a lot of direction on the front end of things, which so many young actors need, by providing information, resources and guidance. When they’re ready, we are able to help them get to the next level of success.
The Hudsucker: What have been some of the highlights for Play Management over the past ten years?
Allen-Abt: Our biggest highlights have been the addition of each of the agents in our office: Mary Falcon, Kalee Harris, and Sam Jewell. They’ve been instrumental in our growth, and our chance to assist in their development along the way has been rewarding. Also, having our clients nominated or winning awards every year is a real feather in our cap. We work so hard to help them achieve their goals, and really celebrate those successes with them. I’d also say that being able to facilitate our clients in developing their own projects has been particularly rewarding because we always promote our clients being proactive, and it reinforces that sentiment. If you’re not finding the roles that you love, create your own! Explore your creative talents and set the bar for yourself high.
The Hudsucker: What makes the relationships between Play and its clients special?
Allen-Abt: We really pride ourselves on being collaborative with our clients, and offering support and understanding. This is a business filled with rejection and even the best and most consistent performers go through periods of self-doubt. We know this and try to help guide them through both the ups and downs. Being tempered on both ends of the spectrum of success helps them remain grounded, which is critical to a good performance! In working closely with our clients, we really do get to know them as individuals. That helps us promote them in the right direction.
The Hudsucker: What was the reasoning behind choosing to expand to the U.S. in 2016? Why now?
Allen-Abt: We are always looking for new opportunities for our clients and the U.S. was a very organic transition. We do a significant amount of business there already in addition to our work in Canada, so it was the right time to put our stake in the ground, so to speak. It’s also the direction that many of our clients are taking, so we are now able to further assist them in the growth of their careers.
The Hudsucker: What drew you to Atlanta specifically?
Allen-Abt: The Atlanta market is very similar to the Vancouver market—it’s even called “Hollywood South’”, while Vancouver is “Hollywood North”. It allows us to focus on developing talent and capitalizing on the huge amount of opportunities locally, while also recognizing when the talent is ready to take the leap to Los Angeles and how to best position them for success. That is truly our strength as a company. We not only have the eye for new talent, but also know how to build their resume, their confidence, and then find the right opportunity to help them get to LA and succeed. Assuming they want to go to LA, of course; lots of actors want to remain closer to home these days too!
The Hudsucker: What are you finding are some of the benefits of having offices in both countries? What are some challenges that you weren’t expecting?
Allen-Abt: Information is a real benefit. When you have offices in both places, you have access to more people, are able to build more relationships and from that flows information that we might not otherwise receive. The challenges are mostly logistical. The time change between the East and West coast is a killer… but you do what you have to do to make it work!
The Hudsucker: You have an impressive roster of clients in Canada, and are already bringing some up-and-comers into your American agency. What types of clients are you hoping to attract, as your name becomes better known in the U.S.?
Allen-Abt: We want the best actors and writers! We want clients that are committed to having a career in this industry and that understand the hard work and perseverance you need to succeed. We also want to foster long-term relationships, and are willing to work equally hard alongside them for the long haul. Ideally we’ll have a select group of talent across all demos—all ages, diversity, and experience levels—while still keeping our roster small.
The Hudsucker: What would you most like the general public and other industry professionals to know about Play?
Allen-Abt: That we are looking to expand our roster in Atlanta and the Southeast. We don’t advertise at all, so the clients we do have come through personal referrals. That said, we are open to reviewing submissions from anyone looking for an agent if they think they would be a fit with our organization. We are proud to be a part of the film community in the Southeast and hope to continue to grow our business here through forging new relationships, building on existing ones, and just continuing to operate our business with integrity.
The Hudsucker: Where do you see Play in another 10 years?
Allen-Abt: Our business has been built on finding the right kind of opportunities for our clients through both conventional methods of casting and relationships with directors, writers, producers and broadcasters. It’s been very rewarding. Now we’d like to expand on that and find new ways to create content, package projects, and in turn create our own opportunities for our clients.