Industry Spotlight: Lana Montalban, Talent Agent


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How did you become a casting professional? What's the backstory here?

I started my professional career as a journalist/anchor woman in the US and then moved back to my native country of Argentina when I was offered my dream job as a host of an investigative News show. However, things got very insecure in the country, and I decided to come back to the US. Getting a job in my field was not that easy, so I started modeling, producing, doing, and teaching make-up and whatever was needed to feed my family. I ended up meeting many people, including talent, and then my entrepreneurial personality led me to create Best Florida Talents. After many years, and through word of mouth from both sides (talent and clients), it grew exponentially.

What are the most favorite and least favorite parts of your job?

Most favorite, definitely, is when I get the chance to let talent know that they were booked! I always try to make a phone call, not just via email or text. I love hearing the excitement in their voice.

My least favorite is when I get emails back, and I realize that the talent has not completely read the detailed email I sent with all the information. I spend much of my time trying to go into every detail, and I try to communicate as clearly as possible. So that's why it’s frustrating. It seems that some people can only read a few characters at a time nowadays.

Which casting calls or roles were the biggest challenges for you and why?

It's a funny question because it makes me think of those occasions when the client requests "real people". I guess that if you call a talent agency or a casting director, you are looking for actors. Otherwise, they should put someone at the door of a mall and just sign people up.

So I have to instruct my people "to act normal, like real people", which is really funny. But challenging. The client really doesn't want "real people" who cannot follow directions and don't know how to behave in a professional set. So we send actors that keep that fact a secret. A very weird situation.

How do you spend your free time?

I write children's stories, paint, do decoupage, read, take walks on the beach, go to the gym, meet friends (pre-pandemic), read a lot of news, take care of my family and play with my cats. 3 rescues.

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If you had to choose an actor to play you in a biopic, who would you choose?

I never thought about that. That's a good question! I have been told that I look like a lot of different people, but someone that I recognize looks like me is Kristin Scott Thomas. She's a great actress and it would be such an honor. Most people that work for me know nothing about my personal life. I have had an amazing, very colorful, very adventurous life. It could make a fun movie.

What’s your most exciting project right now?

There's a movie project that will shoot in Puerto Rico, and they are continuously asking for new characters. That keeps me on my toes. But I have many new projects every week. They are all exciting for different reasons.

What’s the most memorable audition that you’ve been a part of?

As a personal experience, I auditioned for a role in a big motion picture that was never made: China Town II. Thanks to that, I got to Meet Robert Evans and Jack Nicholson in New York. But with my talent as an agent, it was not an audition but it was meeting an actor that I booked for a job. The words he said to me, how grateful he was for the personal care I put in to make sure my people were always OK, made me emotional to the point where I teared up.

What are the typical mistakes aspiring actors make?

Not checking their email often enough. I did not read the whole email before replying. Leaving self-taped submissions for the last moment before the deadline. Something that casting directors do not like at all.

How can they improve their chances of getting cast?

Take every opportunity as your ticket to success. Be professional with every detail. And make a corner of your home your recording studio for self-taped submissions. That's not going away. Invest in a tripod for your phone, good lights, and never look unkempt unless that's the role you're playing. There's no fixing a bad first impression.

What should parents/guardians of child talent know before they apply to your casting calls?

That their kids will be taken care of, they will be protected by a professional that has been in the business for decades, on every side of it, and she's also a mother. 

What would you suggest to other people who are seeking talent? What are the typical mistakes people make when searching for talent?

Nowadays it seems that everyone wants to be famous. One good piece of advice is to make sure that, in the particular case of kids, the child likes to act and is not being forced by the parent. No matter how cute the kid can be. He or she must be happy to be on a set for many hours and perform repetitive actions for the director. Otherwise, it becomes a problem for everyone.

What are the differences in searching for child talent as opposed to adults? What's more challenging and why?

Children are much more challenging by far. First of all, every 3 months you can have a different look! With braces/without braces. With or without pimples. They get taller; they change sizes...continuously. It's really hard to keep up with their look. An adult is more stable to sell, and that makes them easier to work with.

How do you notice the difference between aspiring talent who can “make it” and those who can't? 

It's all in their attitude. Someone who replies immediately, who is respectful, who takes the profession seriously, and who is curious about learning the craft has a great future. This applies to any profession. If you're passionate about what you do, you will probably succeed.

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