Leanne (Fader) Coronel '84 manages the stars
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Although Leanne (Fader) Coronel ‘84 loved theater and film and counted the late Harry Mahnken among her mentors, she wasn’t a theater major during her time at UMass. Instead, she put together a BDIC in advertising.
Her career in that field was short-lived. “I worked all of two days in advertising and got out,” she said, recalling her boss as a hard case who ripped up 12 pages she’s typed for him because he found a single typo. Reconsidering her options, she thought, “I didn’t necessarily want to be an actor, but I loved to be around actors.”
Coronel translated that insight into a successful career, and now has over two decades’ worth of experience supporting actors in their careers, first as an agent, and for seven years now as the head of her own management company, The Coronel Group. She views her work as a creative puzzle, trying to fit the right person into the right project.
Leanne Coronel '84 and Aidan Gillen (Games of Thrones), whom she manages, at the SAG Awards earlier this winter. Photo courtesy of Leanne Coronel
Roots at UMass
Coronel thinks back fondly on UMass, where she split her time between the Department of Theater and the School of Management.
“It was a small department with really creative, fun people,” she said, recalling the Department of Theater. She remembered taking classes in avant garde theater that sparked her imagination.
Even over in the School of Management, she had theater, movies, and TV on the brain. Responsible for booking speakers at a business career event, she signed up representatives from Disney, Paramount, and others. “We need the Big 8!” business students told her (referring to the eight powerful accounting firms of the 70s and 80s), “but I was really proud of myself!” Coronel said, laughing, of the line-up of entertainment firms who came to campus that day.
Aside from business savvy, she walked out of UMass “understanding how to break down a role,” she said, a skill she attributed to her time in theater and which has proven indispensable in her field.
She found her field when she moved to LA, got a job as an assistant in an agency, and quickly realized that it was an environment she could thrive in. For twelve and a half years, Coronel worked at what was then Endeavor Talent Agency for one of the biggest agents of them all, Ari Emmanuel—who inspired Jeremy Piven's Entourage character, Ari Gold.
"I never watched it because I lived it!" she said of the show.
An agent usually has a slate of actors to take care of, although Coronel noted that it's something like 20 percent of the actors who make 80 percent of the money. Along the way, she picked up a lot of wisdom on the business.
She can tell how much experience an actor has, for example, by how long they take to respond to an email request for an appointment to come in and read for a role. Inexperienced actors will send a response within 30 seconds; experienced actors usually take longer because they're reading the materials and assessing whether the role's the right fit for them.
She's also seen plenty of illustrations of the fact that "heat" does not mean talent — actors who disappear after a brief time in the spotlight often don't have the talent to sustain a career, while someone like Matt Damon, she said, has the talent and the sustained career to prove it.
One of the things she's proudest of is the reputation she developed as a "tastemaker."
"I was noted for having an eye," she said, for new talent. A favorite client of hers during her time as an agent was Amy Adams. She was a relative of another Endeavor client, new in town, when Coronel agreed to take her on. Adams ended up booking a TV pilot almost right away. Although the show went nowhere, it was an indication of things to come, Coronel said, because it's very rare that this happens. Adams first big-budget movie was Catch Me If You Can, which didn't generate much heat, but Coronel was there when a small indie movie Adams had made, Junebug, started getting buzz at Sundance.
"I held on to my (ticket) stub, and the day she got her Academy Award nomination, I messengered her the stub and said 'That's when I knew!'" recalled Coronel. "I'm crazy proud of her and of our work together."
On her own
Seven years ago, she decided to strike out on her own as a manager. Some actors have an agent and a manager, while others may only have one or the other. What combination they choose may depend on the actor, the phase of their career, and how much attention they need.
Coronel's company has three staffers, and manages about 25 actors including Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones), Eric McCormack (Will and Grace) and Alan Tudyk (Serenity), among others. She pitches actors for roles and sets up appointments with casting directors. "Casting directors are among my closest friends," she said of the warm working relationships she's developed with some in that field. "I get people seen."
Coronel isalso often on hand for public events. At awards shows, for example, she frequently helps her clients move through the press line, photos, and interviews. At parties or premieres, she will scope the room and make sure her clients network with people they need to see. Someone who's playing a lead will often require more intensive support at an event that someone with a smaller role.
Asked to offer advice to recent graduates, Coronel said, "read books, see old movies, watch great actors, and go see theater!" She also counseled students to come into the field with a strong work ethic. Some actors tell her they don't want to audition on their birthdays, she said, for example.
"Wouldn't it be great if you got yourself a birthday present by getting a job?" she said.