Ioana Friedman

Founder & Editor
The Daring Media
Episode 21: The Talent Whisperer
Location: South Orange, New Jersey
Nationality: American
Biography: Ioana Friedman was born in Bucharest, Romania, and came to the U.S. as a refugee at twelve years old. She earned a BFA in Media Arts from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. For many years, Ioana worked as a Design Director and led digital creative... read on
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Episode 21: The Talent Whisperer
the daring media
May 19, 2020
Location: New York City
“I speak on behalf of someone else too. I make sure my talent is comfortable with everything I'm doing. I don't make decisions without their okay. Not everyone operates like that, but we do. We're a team.” —Brianne Almeida

Inside the Episode

On the show today, Co-Founder and CEO of Lalaland Artists Brianne Almeida. Her agency represents a selection of the most established and new creative talent in the global fashion industry today. She works with remarkable photographers, filmmakers, set designers, stylists, and more.
We take a look at the ins and outs of representing creative talent from an agent’s perspective. You’ll hear us talk about nurturing relationships, where things go right (or off-course) in producing shoots, and ways to think about hiring the right talent for the job at hand.

The Talent Whisperers

Brianne talks about how agents bridge brands with creative talent. A hands-on agent is intimate with creative talent’s abilities. They’re champions and orchestrators. They synthesizes everyone’s needs and keeps tabs on what’s realistic for a shoot. We dive into how communication and talent development rely on boundaries. Like making space for listening:

“I’m learning to listen more. I’m an action-oriented person. I like to move. Right now, I also need to pull back. So when I communicate with someone on my team, a talent, it’s not just picking up the phone while running from one place to another. That’s not giving people the proper time and moment to communicate.

I always want to be available when people call. But if I’m not available and I’m picking up the phone, how is that helpful to anyone? It’s not. I’m trying to make those boundaries for myself, so everyone gets the best version of me.”

Investing in Longevity

When I asked Brianne about parting ways with talent or clients, she says that leaving an open door for relationships to continue is key in her practice. It’s a beautiful moment when she says that there are healthy ways to acknowledge when a partnership is no longer supportive, even after both people have tried to work through tensions. You never know when your paths will cross again.

She also talks about being open. She considers every job opportunity that comes across her desk. Even when she’s not sure it’s an ideal client or the budget’s up against a tough place, she tries to figure it out.

We discuss thinking about freelance creative talent as an extension of your in-house team. Freelancers are there to enhance your ideas and give them form. Ideally, you’re working together for many shoots, creating a generative relationship with each one. The first shoot and the tenth shoot will be completely different. You develop a shorthand. You can say something’s not working without breaking a sweat.

Here is Brianne’s take on creating exceptional artwork:

“Loyalty, relationships. Not just working with someone one time. Creating a trust, and that takes time. That means working with people for a longer period of time. Using people for one thing and spitting them out, you’re not going to get the best from that person. You get the best from them when you create a trusting relationship where they can push [the work] too.”

What About the Budget?

Everyone wants that same dream picture. Producing a successful shoot comes down to being realistic about costs. Some briefs reference high-end finishes, and yet the budget is more in line with Ikea.

The best clients and art buyers understand what they can afford and adjust their expectations. They decide which part of the shoot is essential and invest there.

For example, the right set designer works closely with the client to achieve their vision, within their means. That means getting creative and finding different props that still pay off the broader concept. The best set designers are really like creative directors inside. They think strategically.
With fashion, it’s similar. Brianne gives a great example:

If you’re street casting and not photographing models, a smart move would be to hire a photographer who’s an experienced director and can make people feel comfortable.

Try not to cut corners, because you’ll always pay in the end. If you don’t solve a problem on set, in-camera, you’ll pay in retouching and editing in post-production.

About Brianne

Brianne’s represented world-class creative talent for over 15 years. In the early days, she was at Art + Commerce. She went on to co-found Lalaland Artists, which plays a proactive role in talent development. Her agency works closely with each artist to shape and grow their career over the long term and provides opportunities to work with leading and global fashion brands.

The Talent Whisperer — Blissfully Aware
Hi, this isn’t Entourage. Brianne Almeida paints a sound picture of her life as an agent — conference calls before coffee and all.


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