On Wednesday night, October 26, the Undergraduate Media and Entertainment club (UME) and business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPsi) began their Media and Entertainment Week. Media and Entertainment Week is a week–long conference that provides Penn students who might be interested in the multiple facets of the entertainment industry an opportunity to learn more about the roles and jobs that are offered to them. Through information sessions and alumni panels, Media and Entertainment Week clarifies how to get involved in a world that does not seem easily accessible on Penn’s campus.
For the first night, Chief Administrative Officer of United Talent Agency (UTA), Michael Conway came to the halls of Huntsman to talk to interested students about working as an agent in the talent industry.
UTA is one of the largest globally operated talent and literary agencies in the world. Representing talent in theater, music, television, gaming and even more, Conway explained how UTA provides a full in-house service for any ventures their clients want to get into. But while he explained what UTA does, he also told students what to expect if they want to become an agent.
“If you don’t like to read, this really isn’t the job for you,” Conway explains. “It’s certainly not Ari Gold in Entourage. Most of the agents I know would rather go home and spend time with their family and friends, but most of the time being an agent means being on–call 24/7 for your clients. They’re going to call you every single day and they’re going to want to know one single thing from you: What have you done for me today? Where’s my career going? They don’t really care that you have the flu.”
For all the pains that come with being an agent, Conway did divulge some of the best parts of the job. “If you think about it for a few seconds, these creators, these artists, are actually giving you their entire career in your hands! What doesn’t get said is that you get to be the tastemaker in this business. You get to define what is talent,” he began, “The real wild moment for agents is not going to fancy parties and hanging out with celebrities, it’s you going to a cinema on a Friday night and paying full price for the ticket to a sold out show, and you watch the audience around you go on a visual storytelling journey.”
Working as an agent, as Conway puts it, is not a job of glamour. It’s more tedious than one might realize and not a career you can just pick up. It’s a line of work one truly has to be interested in or they’ll be doomed to fail. But if you are truly interested in it? It’s a very fulfilling process.
For those wondering what to study or do as an undergraduate in order to pursue this line of work, Conway has some advice as well: “I know most of you are programmed to know exactly what you want to do, but I didn’t. I ended up at UTA. I just knew I wanted to be in entertainment. I think a lot of you end up in a place that you really didn’t know you were going to end up in. So my advice to you, is to take a deep breathe and just enjoy being 20–something.”
Media and Entertainment Week finishes this week with their final keynote speaker Matthew Strauss, the EVP of Video at Comcast.