Stephanie Piza is nothing short of a powerhouse when it comes to talent and the creator space. The talent and management executive — who now works as Head of Emerging and Interactive Media for representation firm M88 — launched UNCMMN, a female-founded management firm focused on diverse talent and a holistic approach to management.
About four years after launching her firm, Piza decided to merge with M88, a representation firm that also focuses on amplifying diverse voices and storytelling.
Naturally, we were eager to sit down with the talent expert and chat about the industry and where it’s headed. Here’s what she had to say.
Alexis Benveniste: What inspired the UNCMMN x M88 merger?
Stephanie Piza: Upon the inception of M88 and our collaborative efforts, it didn’t take us long to recognize the immense potential of providing comprehensive services to our clients on all fronts. I’m a strong advocate for the notion that there is tremendous power in unity, and by harnessing the strengths of both organizations, we become an even more formidable force together. This realization quickly dawned on us, and we embarked on the journey of understanding what it means to operate as one entity.
AB: What was it like to launch your own company? What did your brainstorming process look like?
SP: As I gained traction in my representation career, leveraging my established reputation and a roster of signed clients, I looked around the landscape of the creator industry and identified a gap waiting to be filled. The idea of launching a company started taking shape when I recognized a similar void in the realm of representation, specifically within the domain of POC executives.
I often felt like I was one of the few — if not only — senior Latinas within the creator space focusing on POC talent. It was clear there was an opportunity to build something significant that would change the game.
AB: What was the biggest challenge involved with starting UNCMMN?
SP: Transitioning from some of the largest entertainment companies to embarking on a new venture from scratch was undeniably difficult. However, I chose to view it as an exciting opportunity for me to immerse myself in a ground-up learning experience. I recall delving into books and consuming YouTube videos to grasp concepts such as (PnL) management and company culture — areas that typically remain in the background until you’re building your own company.
AB: What helped you stay on track during this process?
SP: My belief in the strength of collective efforts guided me. I never intended to navigate this journey alone. At that time, the only individual vocally advocating for the elevation of diverse voices was Charles King. It was in this context that I identified an opportunity to establish a company alongside like-minded individuals, with the goal of representing what, at the time, was a minority within the industry.
AB: What does your day-to-day look like in your current role?
SP: I firmly believe that self-care is a prerequisite for effectively caring for others, especially when our primary responsibility involves looking after our clients. My daily routine begins with prayer and meditation, followed by a visit to the gym on most days. Before I start work, I make it a point to catch up on industry news from publications like Deadline and Variety, and I’m particularly keen on staying informed about developments in new media, such as through platforms like NFT Now.
I believe that during times when the NFT and tech space experiences a lull, it’s an ideal opportunity to educate oneself about emerging technologies like AI, as the momentum continues to build.
Once I’ve completed this morning routine, I check my emails and messages before heading to the office. There, I engage with my internal team for meetings, calls, and various tasks. A significant part of my role revolves around nurturing relationships on behalf of our clients, which involves daily check-ins and ensuring they’re in the right place at the right time and prepped for their jobs. Simultaneously, we also maintain connections with different stakeholders, including buyers, executives, and platforms. My job entails attending a lot of dinners, lunches, and events to foster connections, explore opportunities, and close deals.
AB: Tell me about your interest in the creator economy. Where did your passion for this space begin? What made you realize that this was your calling?
SP: I can’t take sole credit for discovering that this niche was my calling. Initially, my career aspirations centered around the television industry, and I had interviewed for a position as an assistant to the head of TV at CAA. During those discussions, they candidly shared their perception of the television industry as being trapped in a seemingly declining business model, emphasizing that the future lay in technology and digital platforms. They encouraged me not to miss an opportunity to venture into the digital realm. When a position opened up in the digital department, I wholeheartedly embraced it as my new focus.
AB: What makes a creator and a brand a perfect match? How do you work to find the synergy between the two?
SP: The key to success in this role is dedicating time to understand the needs and aspirations of both parties involved. It all begins with a deep understanding of your client, including their career strategy for the next five years, their preferences, and what will propel them to the next level.
Often, talent may express a desire to collaborate with a specific brand or individual, but as a representative, it’s your responsibility to provide guidance on whether this aligns with their long-term goals.
Frequently, brands come with their own set of requirements, and your challenge is to find the right balance between their needs and those of your client, ensuring that any collaboration makes sense for both sides. Essentially, you’re working as a matchmaker throughout the day, constantly striving to create mutually beneficial partnerships.
AB: What makes a creator successful?
SP: In today’s world, I believe that success is defined in a multitude of ways. There are individuals in the talent industry who earn multi-million-dollar incomes yet might not have the same level of commercial fame as others. Nevertheless, they are successful and financially prosperous in their own right. This diverse range of definitions allows for success to be a highly individual and personal concept.
For the majority of talent, the aspiration often revolves around achieving commercial success. They aim to transcend their craft and venture into different mediums. They desire global recognition. Frequently, this path to recognition and fame comes from cultivating themselves as a commercial brand, which can open doors to a broader audience and opportunities.
AB: What makes a creator brand successful?
SP: Profit is often considered the most reliable measure of success. However, it’s important to acknowledge that there are other metrics and factors that can be used to define success, and these can vary depending on an individual’s or organization’s specific goals and priorities.
Interested in building your creator brand or working for one? Reach out to us to start the conversation.
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