The visual stories
Interview by Alexandre Orlowski
LALALAND ARTISTS, founded by Leigh Hurst & Brianne Almeida, represents talent worldwide with offices based in London & New York. The agency takes a proactive role in creative artist development, working closely to shape and grow careers, while providing opportunities to collaborate with leading global fashion brands, agencies and creatives.
Lalaland promotes inclusivity in the Creative Industry industry by broadening visual storytelling to include all races, genders, and sizes and for our talent to represent the diversity of the world.
Lalaland is definitely a catchy and lively name for a Talent agency. How did it come about?
B O T H: With three decades in the industry, it felt appropriate.
Managing artists is a profession that requires many skills and most importantly vision, empathy and a good dose of humour. What made you want to become agents?
L E I G H: I never started in life wanting to become an agent, but who does as a young teenager? My ambition was to be James Bond and work at MI6, so I guess there could be some truth in the agent aspect, just not the secret part. I started in an ad agency post room, moving through the creative departments, and then on to acommercial production company.
However, it really all began in 96, with Prada, I produced many of their iconic campaigns, working with Glen Luchford, Norbert Schoerner, Rob Wyatt, Cedric Buchet, Steven Meisel etc, through to the early 2000s it was a special time. Working with Prada over this period is where my love and passion for the industry exploded; as a natural people person, I followed my heart with drive, hard work, integrity and a sense of fun.
I followed this period for over a decade producing some of the most significant fashion and editorial
campaigns in the 2000s with some of the most incredible creative talents in the industry, the experience I gained, setting up an agency and becoming an agent was the natural progression.
But I am still waiting for the call from MI6…
B R I A N N E: That is so weird you are still waiting for that call, Leigh, because I am currently the CIA’s top agent, changing the world one artist at a time. Ha. Truth be told, I decided I wanted to be an agent after my first career job at Art and Commerce, where I was an assistant for stylists, hair
and makeup artists. While there, I strengthened my eye by looking not only at the photography being produced, but also in paying attention to all of the other details that came together to create the entirety of those images from the late 90’s- early 2000’s. Of course, at that time, having just moved to NYC from a very remote town in Northern California, I was easily motivated by the glamour of it all.
One early experience that made me love my job and our industry (which I am reluctantly sharing) was when I decided to see my first fashion show. I took it upon myself to utilize Edward Enniful’s unused invites and sit front row at three of the most important NY shows at that time, it was February 2002 (the first shows after September 11th).
XAVIER SCOTT MARSHALL
I will never forget the grandeur of those shows and was completely in awe of the artistry in design, sets, hair/makeup… everything. This experience, and the hot headed arguments of agents, created an allure that convinced me to pursue being an agent.
You have been partners for almost a decade now and have succeeded to manage Lalaland from both sides of the pond with brio. How did your partnership come to be and how do you manage it on a daily basis?
B O T H: Some time back, there was a singularity point between us, over an artist’s option being pulled. Arising from a situation that may have been uncomfortable or difficult, it actually became the moment that started the process of us becoming the partners we are today and the start of our
journey with Lalaland.
A true business partner is one of the most significant partnerships in life: it is a rare find that some never achieve. We are lucky.
We continually progress because we have complementary strengths and skills which create balance, and we agree on most things even after a fight! And in the day-to-day, the support and expertise from our team of agents and producers keep us in calm waters.
Running the agency together, we passionately believe it is about listening to our artists and team and sharing all our experience, and knowledge, to help them become all they can on their creative and personal life journey.
Today, you lead a highly respected global multi-faceted representation company. What is the common thread among all artists under the Lalaland umbrella?
B O T H: We love and respect all of our artists. It’s a very personal relationship and requires mutual
trust and respect, which we always look to and strive to evolve over many years.
When we sign an artist, we think about how they can evolve creatively and as people. Although they are all very different from each other, the common threads that unite them to each other are the same that
connect them to the agency and us individually; their commitment to growth, creativity, passion, honesty, and kindness. To be a part of Lalaland, our talent and colleagues must share and uphold these values.
These unprecedented times have also seen a rapid disruption of the media landscape due to social movements such as Me too and Black Lives Matter, how are these positive changes influencing your mission as an agent?
B O T H: We’re a young agency, and we embrace these cultural moments that ask us all to pay more attention, learn, and be more conscious. We appreciate how quickly this industry can make a change and adapt. However, much more work is needed to create an even better environment for future generations. The positive and long-overdue social movements have only solidified our commitment. Our role is to support change; we strive for our industry to be more inclusive by hiring diverse, creative perspectives that reflect their voice through unique storytelling and casting.
We have always represented and nurtured a wide range of talent, whether it be at the start of their career or an artist that has decades of experience. We find our joy in not only bringing creative and financial goals to fruition but also in pushing clients to support and grow talent that has otherwise been underserved for decades in the fashion industry.
What do you consider essential to be a purveyor of quality in your field?
B O T H: Commitment to learning and growing, experience, honesty, passion, transparency, flexibility, hard work, understanding, drive, problem-solving, a sense of humour, and honour in all you do (with no bullshit).
Is it possible for you to collaborate with people that are not exactly on your wavelength?
B O T H: It depends on the wavelength…
BAKER & EVANS
What is the most useful piece of advice you’ve been given?
B O T H: We recently listened to a podcast interview with Rick Rubin, and his statement below resonated with us, like a mantra to repeat when everything seems impossible. “We believe our way into things, allowing them to come into being in the world. You have to believe that something that doesn't exist can exist…. If you start with the idea that it's impossible,
then it's impossible.” repeated... "We believe our way into things, allowing them to come into being into the world.“
And in closing, how would you describe the Agent’s Club in three words?
B O T H: Creative, Informative, Inclusive