Julia Schneider: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Elevator Pitch:
I’m a Toronto talent agent who represents actors and writers in the Television & Film industry across North America.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
Becoming a talent agent wasn’t an overnight decision. I actually started training as an actor at the age of 13. I appeared in a handful of TV shows and a couple of really fun movies, but by my early 20’s I hadn’t had “the break” I was hoping for. And by that time the other side of the camera had piqued my interest. I started assisting at an acting studio, then a casting office, and finally at Ambition Talent, where I went from assisting to now managing my own roster. The connections I’ve made since I was a kid in the business have been essential to where I am now. A natural progression over the last 16 years, if you will.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? What is the most challenging part?
Every day is different, so that keeps it fresh. What’s great is that I get to work with an array of people of various ages and in different stages of their career. In addition to the people I represent, I’m also working daily with casting directors, producers, and other talent agents.

The challenging part of working with so many different people is that you won’t always see eye to eye. Even though I see this business as “we’re all in this together”, there are times when you can’t get through to people. They can be close-minded and make safe bet decisions, which can really frustrate me. What keeps me going is the ambition to help achieve goals. When I can make that happen, or even get someone one-step closer, that is the best part of my job.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest your work/life balance is off?
Well, unlike other 9-5 jobs, the TV & film business never closes. It’s a 24/7 kind of gig. Things can happen quickly, but a lot of the time it’s “hurry up and wait.” If you’re not at the office, then you are always reachable by mobile device. There will often be emails coming in around midnight, so if you don’t set some kind of boundaries for yourself and don’t prioritize, you can really let this job get in the way of balance.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Doing what I’m doing, but being even better at it!

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
I’ve had various challenges come across my desk. Some of them small, pertaining to scheduling conflicts, some larger – like an actor walking off set during a shoot day. Each case is different, but the way to overcome the challenges is by being organized and doing your best to please both parties. A lot of the time I’m the intermediary between an actor and a production, so it can get complicated. The best thing to do is learn from the mistakes!

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
I feel successful when I’m happy. Hard work = money. Money = paid bills and food. Paid bills and food = happiness. Looks like I just figured out the secret to happiness with some crude formula I just made up. You’re welcome. Results may vary.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
One of the first actors I signed early in my career was the talented Rainbow Sun Francks, who appears on CTV’s The Listener. It was just announced the show will not be renewed for a sixth season. Signing Rainbow and him landing that part was a milestone in my career. It didn’t sink in until the show ended, but representing a series regular on a series that lasts more than one season in Canada is a huge accomplishment! Now I’m excited to move on to bigger and better things.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Be patient in everything, especially while you build and nurture your business relationships. Also, true humility is more important than false confidence.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “me” time?
Traveling out of the city and going on photography excursions.

Where is your favorite place to travel? Why?
New York City is my favourite place to travel. Not too far away, a much bigger city than Toronto, and nothing beats its energy and history.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I would love to direct something for television or film. Becoming a D.O.P. (Director of Photography) would be pretty rad.

What to you is notable?
A person who strives to keep learning. A person who offers useful advice, and who takes chances on the unknown.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or other?
I was a Blackberry customer for years. While facing peer pressure to jump ship, I impulsively stated on record, “I will die with a Blackberry in my hand”. Then I realized, among other things, that Instagram would never make the crossover, so I switched to an iPhone. Now I don’t make morbid, dramatic vows about mobile devices, ‘cause you never know. 


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