HRTS Member Profile: Dar Rollins
Dar Rollins is Partner & Co-Head of Talent at ICM Partners. I recently had a chance to interview Dar to discuss competition, new voices and Bob Hope.
Q: Can you tell us about your background and what made you want to work in Hollywood?
-I was born in Los Angeles and raised by a single mother. Since I was home while my mother worked, I became engrossed in television shows and movies. I grew up watching The Cosby Show, The Twilight Zone, Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. My father was a Persian documentarian and scripted filmmaker, which is probably why my genetic makeup led me into entertainment.
After I graduated from Harvard High school, I received a soccer scholarship to the University of Wisconsin. I took a year off and went to school in London, where my real love affair with entertainment formed. When I returned to Los Angeles, I stumbled into the agency business after very close calls in producing. I came close to getting jobs working for Tony Krantz at Imagine and Lawrence Bender, but I was constantly barraged with “no agency experience!” I didn’t realize its significance in every aspect of the industry. My neighbor upstairs was the sister to an agent at ICM. Fortuitously, I called her sister, and she told me an assistant position opened up. I have been at ICM Partners ever since.
Q: How did you first get involved with the HRTS?
-as a young agent, I loved to go to the events to expand my network and to learn from the speakers in their series. It was immensely educational. Nancy Josephson suggested that I join HRTS, and I have been a member ever since.
Q: How has the business changed since the day you signed your first client?
-it’s pretty simple. Fewer films are being made, which drives more competition in all other mediums. Moreover, the content in other mediums has become increasingly stronger because more talent, including actors, writers and directors, are looking to other areas to use their voices. The digital age has given unknown voices an opportunity to shine as well as giving longstanding talent a chance to platform new material in places where they are not restricted. It’s a wide open world, and it allows representatives to be a lot more creative in driving business.
Q: How do you identify someone with the potential for a long career?
-you have to feel it deep down. The perfect example is of a client that I have represented for many years. A casting director tipped me off to her work. She sent me an episode of a television show that I’d never watched. She did one episode. I saw the clip, was blown away, and signed her two months later. I just knew. It’s rare that I take a chance on someone like that, but when you know, trust me, you know.
Q: What’s the best thing about being an agent? Worst?
-well, I wouldn’t be an agent if I did not love actors. I love them so much, I married one. I find that nothing is more exhilarating than seeing someone create a performance that is so unique and different than the way I had imagined it. Same with directors creating visceral worlds that are born from their hearts. And similarly with writers who mold story in a way that I could never imagine doing. I also love the history of the entertainment business. I grew up watching re-runs of Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, the great Celebrity Roasts and Variety shows, Lawrence of Arabia, the fantastic musicals of the 1940s/50s/60s —I mean, how do you not fall in love with this business? The only pitfall of this business, for me, is when you fight for someone so passionately and deeply, and they don’t get the job. That, I take home with me. I am highly competitive and feel that my clients are better than others, so when they get rejected, I take it personally.
Q: How do you see the business changing over the next few years?
-that’s a very tough question. Rather than the negative, I can hope for the positive. My hope is that film studios take more risks with smaller movies built around up-and-coming actors. I would love to see the John Hughes model resurface (writer/directors whose vision is supported and encouraged and their casting choices being bred out of their belief rather than what the foreign marketplace dictates). I think the Nielsen ratings may become more and more obsolete, and we will figure out a way to quantify a show’s success much better than the system in place now. I think the New York theatre will continue to be robust because more actors are looking for material that they can really sink their teeth into. I think the digital world will keep opening up and places like Amazon and Netflix will continue to grow their content to be major players in the film and television communities. More than anything, I really hope that new voices will continually be groomed and nurtured and supported in their artistic endeavors.