The arts and culture industries remain largely at a standstill in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, affecting millions of workers in an already delicate ecosystem. The Broadway Community Project, from industry veterans Greg Schaffert, Tiffani Gavin, Situation Interactive, and Playbill, was developed to shed light on the myriad fields and roles that go into making the curtain rise.
In this new series, we shine a spotlight on the faces you may not see on stage, but are nevertheless critical in creating and maintaining a theatre production. These are just some of the arts workers who have put their stamp on an industry that contributed over $14.7 billion to the New York economy in 2019 and $877 billion in value added nationally; these are just some of the arts workers in need of relief legislation and a recovery plan.
READ: Check Out the New Tool That Maps the Expansive, Evolving Broadway Ecosystem
Today, meet Rashad V. Chambers, the founder and president of Esquire Entertainment. As a talent manager, he provides guidance to stage and screen artists; this takes shape through facilitating networking opportunities, audition sourcing, contract negotiations, reviewing headshots and promotional materials, and more. Through the company's producing arm, Chambers has helped bring such shows as Ain't Too Proud and American Son to the Broadway stage. Learn more about him and his line of work below.
Click here to explore the Broadway Community Project map in full (or submit yourself to be added).
Name: Rashad V. Chambers
Title: President, Esquire Entertainment
What is a typical day like for you on the job?
My day varies. As the president of Esquire Entertainment, I manage actors, writers, directors, and choreographers, as well as develop and produce theatre and TV. My day may consist of submitting clients for projects, reviewing headshots, demo reels and web sites, negotiating contracts, drafting agreements, reading scripts, etc.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job? The most rewarding?
The most challenging part is that sometimes you take on the rejection of your clients. You believe in someone so much, but they can't always get the job. The most rewarding aspect is being able to share in the excitement of helping someone achieve their dreams. I love calling clients and letting them know they booked their first Broadway show or TV role.
What do you wish more people knew about talent management?
I wish people knew how multifaceted the world of talent representation is. Most people know about agents, but they don't know about managers. As a manager, I love being able to guide and advise my clients on the best ways to achieve their career objectives. It's more than just getting a gig. It is about creating a brand and sustainability.
Did you have a mentor while developing your career?
I had two wonderful mentors who are producers: Greg Schaffert and Jayson Raitt. These guardian angels always made time to answer my questions and guide me on my quest to be a Broadway producer. Unfortunately, I did not have a mentor as a talent manager. I used a lot of transferable skills from my business and legal background. This is one of the reasons why I work hard to give back and mentor others interested in being involved in the theatre community.
What are three skills a talent manager must possess?
Patience. Empathy. Communication.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time on the job?
My career is so fun that it rarely feels like work. My first Broadway opening was The Book of Mormon. That was a special night because I knew so many people involved with the show, but I was particularly proud of my client, Rema Webb, who was in the show from the very first reading. That opening night was a true celebration of hard work.
How would you like to see your field evolve in the future?
I would love for there to be more diversity and mentorship. There still aren't many representatives of color. I would love for more BIPOC agents and managers to get into the business.
What's your professional life like during the coronavirus pandemic?
Fortunately, most of the work I can be done via phone and email. However, I look forward to the day when I can have more in-person meetings as well as the return of live entertainment.
What advice do you have for those aspiring to work in your field?
I would tell anyone interested in this career path to study theatre in all forms, but also learn how to effectively communicate and work with diverse groups of people.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the theatre community?
Being a part of the theatre community is an inspiring and rewarding experience and I love working with various creative types from all around the world.