Tracy Christian is one of Hollywood’s most successful talent agents.
Christian is the owner of TCA Management, where she represents actors, writers, directors, and producers, as well as a few select business entrepreneurs in television, film, theater and business development. She has worked with mega-influencer Mona Scott-Young, the creator of VH1’s Love and Hip-Hop franchises for many years, and has a penchant for not just sealing the deal, but also cultivating personal relationships with her talent in a way that prepares them for lifelong success.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Christian about the power of collaboration, taking ownership of your authentic identity and practicing gratitude while in pursuit of your dreams and goals. While she has had experience sealing very lucrative deals with notable talent, such as Roger Guenveur Smith, Tasha Smith, Tisha Campbell, Vanessa Simmons, Jamie Hector, Jordan Calloway, and Octavia Spencer, to name a few, Christian asserts that it is always important to practice gratitude, to surround yourself with honest people who will hold you accountable, and to remain loyal.
Where It All Began
Christian understands from experience the power of collaboration and having a solid support system. When at a transitional period in the early stages of her career, Christian was not afraid to reach out to her network. “I asked notable filmmaker John Singleton, ‘What should I do?’ And John goes, you should either be either a madam or an agent. He thought that I was a good salesperson. John and a few people like him were very helpful in getting me meetings around town.” Christian asserts that from the very beginning there were people who took a chance on her and that most who have remained loyal to her to this very day.
A Collaborative Mindset and Remaining Loyal
When asked what she attributes her success to, Christian wholeheartedly believes that you must surround yourself with loyal people. “Last night TV executive Byron Allen was saying that we can be successful on our own, but when we link with other people, we can go further. At different points in my career and in my life, I’ve always put together an incredibly supportive tribe.”
Christian made it clear that authentic relationships should also be at the core of long-term business relationships as well. “I represent [actor] Roger Guenveur Smith, and he and Spike Lee have collaborated together for 25 years. Likewise, in the spirit of collaboration, Roger allowed me to represent him when I was a baby agent.” Smith put his money where his mouth was regarding collaboration, leaving the William Morris Agency to come and work with Christian at a much smaller agency. “When [actor] Jamie Hector was new on the market,” Christian says, “many people wanted to work with him. He came to work with me. And he has stayed with me.”
Christian asserts that when you work with and for good people, it is important to stay in a state of gratitude.
“You owe it to that person to be the best that you can be,” she says. “You’re only as good as your tribe. I’ve got a kickass tribe. I got people who believe in me as much as I believe in them.”
Things to Look for When Choosing an Agent
Christian is convinced that when it comes to choosing an agent, it is all about relationship. It is important to choose an agent that you have an authentic connection with. As a businesswoman, Christian understands that when it comes to the world of casting and the entertainment industry, “It’s business.” However, she explains, “There are agents out there who are just transactional. They don’t need to know you. They won’t give a damn about you. They’ll do a great job — they’ll get a good deal. If that’s what you want, get that. Then there are other people who will bleed for you. If that’s what you want, go out and get that. But that’s a real relationship. As much as the agent pours into you, you have to pour into them.”
Being selective and understanding your own personal goals as an actor also influences how you might perceive an agent or an agency. Christian believes, “Many times people will hire a particular agency because they’re familiar with that brand. It makes them feel secure. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I think the more astute artists hire the person that they believe understands where they want to go and is willing to do the work to get them there.”
Advice for Actors Starting Out in Their Careers
While Christian made it very clear that acting advice is “so individual,” she offers up a select few pieces of advice based on her experience.
- “Put a team together that you trust, and practice vigorous honesty with that team. You need to be able to have good, honest conversations with your agent, your manager or your attorney. Likewise, they should be able to have those accountability conversations with you.
- “Secondly, have a creative practice that you invest in no matter what. When I look at people like Spike Lee or Jerry Seinfeld, they all say that no matter what, they write for a set amount of time each day. That’s their practice to keep their instruments sharp. If you are an actor, run a theater company, take acting classes, make short films. Do whatever you have to do to keep that instrument sharp. If you’re a writer, consistently write. If you’re an actor, do whatever you have to do — whether you’re in a class or you’re making short films — but do the acting. If you’re a writer, then you should be writing content. If you’re a producer, take classes, produce content and consistently do the work.”
- Lastly, practice gratitude. “It’s always important to look back and see where you were, measure that progress, and be thankful for it.”
While Tracy Christian is a Tinseltown powerhouse making power moves for top-tier talent and entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry, she seems to be as humble and modest as they come.
To learn more about TCA Management, click here.