EXCLUSIVE: TJ Bernardy And Chris Fioto has been promoted to partner in WME’s Talent Group Deadline has learned.
Fioto joined WME six years ago in December of 2015. He previously worked as an agent at Gersh, and in the financial services industry at Morgan Stanley prior to that. He works with Keanu Reeves, Brie Larson, Melissa Barrera, Cailee Spaeny, Gabriel Basso and Mamoudou Athie among other clients at WME.
Bernardy started in 2010 as an intern in the business affairs department. He worked his way up in the talent department working for Jessica Kovacevic, Brandt Joel, and Patrick Whitesell. His clients include Millie Bobby Brown, Kid Cudi, Adam Devine, Dave Franco, Mark Cuban, Cole Sprouse, Halsey, Kiernan Shipka, and Lilly Singh, among others.
With the ever changing landscape in the industry, Deadline sat down with Bernardy and Fioto to discuss what those changes as well as how they are adapting when it comes to helping their clients and the agency.
Deadline: From 5 years ago when you guys were first doing this, what exactly are the changes in the industry and what do you have to do differently now as partners with more control. Biggest changes in what you guys have to do day to day that is affected across the industry?
Bernardy: The Definition of what content is and where it is consumed has changed over the years and with technology helping it all evolve, the way things are put together is changing. Talent is getting involved much earlier in the deal making process and their roles in the process have changed drastically as well.
Fioto: There’s more content being made now than ever before and it allows agents to be more proactive and take advantage of opportunities in the business. Always looking for the highest quality projects in whatever medium. Talent has much more control creatively and economically.
Deadline: From a client perspective, what’s the biggest challenge you see in how you deal with clients now vs how Patrick Whitesell might have dealt with clients long ago?
Fioto: Content allows agents to be more proactive for their clients and take advantage of of the new opportunities in the business. The one common thread is and will always be looking for the highest quality projects, regardless of the medium. It’s an exciting time and a chance for talent to be more entrepreneurial in the process. It gives clients more control creatively and economically.
Bernardy: Definition of what talent is has changed and where you find them has changed. It’s not just the theater anymore. Most important thing is that representation is still individual. Each client is different, you’ve got to know their passions/interests but be ahead [of the game] to educate them on what’s coming up to expand on those passions/interests. Being curious, pushing outside the box, you have to do all of this vs just being transactional.
Deadline: What hasn’t changed that is still important even in these evolving times?
Bernardy: All about authenticity, remembering what your client’s core business is. If you’re an actor, then being an actor is the engine that drives everything else forward. From that, you can expand into new verticals but it has to be case-by-case by the individual.
Fioto One thing that hasn’t changed is you have to be a constant advocate for your client. Advocacy is at the center of representation and always has been.
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