Kerri Krilla, the Vice President of NY Print and Youth Commercial / Voiceover at CESD Talent Agency, is one of New York’s top Youth Agents.
(Readers, if you’re as excited about this interview as I was to conduct it, skip the intro and dig right into the questions and answers – on second thought, don’t skip the intro as you may miss something important that I just added!)
The title of Youth Agent sounds glamorous but in reality, being a Youth Agent is one of the hardest jobs in the entertainment field. Being on call 24/7/365 is enough to strain personal relationships (missing birthday parties and family events isn’t just for actors, models and bands on tour, you know!)
As talent, we may not understand the daily grind agents go through, or what they do for us behind the scenes, or how they push for us to get to the next audition.
Did you know that agents follow-up with Casting Directors to see how their clients’ audition went? (So in order to be on time for your audition, be sure to show up 15 minutes before, because your agent will know if you’re late!)
I got to grill Kerri Krilla on “all things agent” and boy, did she give us some great insight as to what she’s looking for in a client, how she puts out fires and what it’s like dealing with parents / guardians, as well as the production side.
P.S. For those of you who have read my past articles, you know I love alliteration. So isn’t the name “Kerri Krilla” cool? Shhh, okay whatevs! On to the interview!!
On the Runway!
As a youth agent, what do you strive for?
As agents we all have a responsibility to our clients. To bring them the best opportunities possible and to work hard behind the scenes on their behalf. Being a Youth agent adds another layer to that. It is always my number 1 priority to make sure my kids and young adults are enjoying the process and are being treated well as they navigate this very competitive business. I strive to make the parents comfortable and always make them feel safe when coming to me with an issue or question. On the other side of things, I strive to please our casting directors and producers so that they can always expect a positive experience and top talent when working with my team.
How do you deal with overbearing parents?
I like to think of them as concerned parents instead of overbearing parents. Everyone wants the very best for their children and being in such a difficult industry can add a lot stress. Patience is key. I try to remember that although I know the ins and outs of this business, they do not. It is our job to keep them educated and feeling secure. We take our time to lay the ground work with any new clients and I believe that makes all the difference. We appreciate patience and trust on their end as well. This is not an easy business, there are many frustrations and road blocks along the way. Trusting me to do the best for their child is important and it’s something I take very seriously.
What do you do if a young performer is booked for a job and they get sick and cannot make it at the last minute?
We have to be prepared for anything and these things do happen. This goes back to the parent feeling comfortable being honest with me. As stressful as it may be, I would never want a sick child on set and production feels the same way. When this happens, my main concern is working quickly to fix the problem. Is there a way to reschedule? If not, can we provide a backup talent? Working quickly and communicating with production is always key in this situation. We drop everything to make sure we are making this our priority. We also want to be sure the production team feels supported and knows we will go above and beyond to work something out.
Toni Braun is Kerri’s partner in all things, stellar agent and has become a lifelong friend.
Describe your typical day.
Each day is different and that’s why I love what I do. On a typical day, we are working on all types of projects – commercials, voiceovers, print campaigns, submitting and pushing our talent to be seen by casting directors. Email is the most popular form of communication these days, but I look forward to phone calls and face to face meetings. There is something to be said about a real conversation. Based on the project and what it requires, sometimes talent is requested and other times we are asked to send our best. Knowing my clients, knowing who is right, knowing who will get the job done – all very important. Space is limited in most cases so we work really hard behind the scenes. Organization is key in this business and we take that very seriously. I work with amazing women who work extremely hard and I value our bond. I expect everyone to go the extra mile and be prepared for anything, I hold myself to those same standards. We are always checking in for client updates, we know their special skills, we try to familiarize ourselves with their families. All of these things are so important for the industry demands in today’s business.
If a client writes something on their social media with a negative impact, how do you handle the backlash?
I try to prevent this from happening in the first place by encouraging parents to monitor these accounts closely. If something is posted by an older client that I feel could be a potential issue, I will call them immediately and discuss it. Most of the time, after they realize what an impact their social media accounts have they are more than willing to take things down or clean things up if necessary. Social media is such a huge part of our lives but everyone needs to realize we can’t take something back after we’ve said it, or in this case, posted it. If you have to question whether something is appropriate to post, it probably isn’t. Because of that, we try to encourage awareness from the very beginning.
What’s the most stressful thing about being an agent?
Being an agent is a 24/7 job. Things are always happening and we don’t turn off after hours. Checking emails, being available and getting back to people are requirements. I knew from the very beginning that if I wanted to be successful in this business I would need to make that a priority. There are times where there are unforeseen changes, complications or emergencies that arise and must be handled immediately for the benefit of the shoot and my client. Many times I am still checking emails from bed just to make sure I haven’t missed anything or first thing in the morning as my alarm goes off. Finding that balance and deciding what can wait for the next day can be challenging. It’s something I am always conscious of.
One of Kerri’s “kids” in hair and make-up. Notice the dog at the bottom left of the frame. An agent is to make sure the child actor is not allergic or afraid of animals if one will be on set.
What advice do you have for young performer?
When I meet new talent for the first time the first thing I notice is whether or not they are enjoying themselves. Please make sure this is what you love to do. If this is what you love, it will shine through. Be yourself and have confidence in who you are. I absolutely love meeting new performers. Every child and young adult has their own story, their own personality. My favorite kind of meeting is when someone comes in, has a story to tell and really opens up to show who they are. Those are the memorable ones, those are the times when I see something in them and can’t wait to send them into auditions to share that special something. Be prepared, go into the room and give it your all. When you walk out, feel good about yourself but leave it there. Your time will come.
CESD (Cunningham Escott Slevin & Doherty) is one of the nation’s most prestigious commercial, voice-over, print, digital influencer, theatrical/TV-film and young performer talent agencies and a dominant force in the industry. Based in the media capitals of the world, New York City and Los Angeles, the company’s unique dimensions include offering performers complete representation for on-camera and voice-over commercials, digital, print/fashion, beauty, dance, animation and gaming, hosting, puppeteers, promos/trailers/narration, and television and radio affiliate marketing.
Kerri and her husband, Patrick, enjoying a rare evening out before their baby is born.
KERRI KRILLA’S BIOGRAPHY
Kerri Krilla is the Vice President of Print and Youth Commercial/VO for CESD’s New York office. She studied Radio-Television-Film at Rowan University. Since joining the agency in 2012, Kerri has developed the Adult Print Department in various areas to represent and service all types of models, including Parts, Plus-Size Women, Big & Tall Men, Fitness, and Real Families. In the Youth area, Kerri develops talent of all ages for Print, Commercial, and Voiceover/Animation. Her hands-on approach and unwavering focus on and dedication to her talent provides her clients with the security of knowing they are the priority. Kerri is known for her impeccable attention to detail and her strong relationships with buyers and casting directors. Her passion for this business and steadfast commitment is what sets her apart. Previously, Kerri worked at Wilhelmina as a model booker and talent manager for kids and teens in Print and Television after starting in the Agency business at Abrams Artists Agency.