EXCLUSIVE: After two decades of agenting movie stars in a boutique shop and not getting crushed by the behemoths around her, Ilene Feldman has decided to fold her agency and become a manager. At year’s end, she will shutter Ilene Feldman Associates after 19 years. She and longtime IFA partner Wendy Murphey will join LBI as talent managers. Their colleagues David Lillard and Christy Hall plan to remain agents and will explore their options. They will keep the agency running for a two-month transition period, when issues like Lillard and Hall’s next moves will be sorted, as well as where their clients will go.
Feldman’s recent agency clients include Ryan Gosling, Angelina Jolie and Josh Hartnett. She has a refreshing aversion to publicity, but I was able to sketch out some of what I consider to be a remarkable survival story. Feldman began with Herb Tobias, who mostly repped cinematographers. While a receptionist there, she showed an eye for acting talent, and signed then-unknown actors like Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp. Her list grew but wasn’t compatible to the core business, so she left Tobias. But she never really wanted to be at a major agency.
She joined Triad when it was small, then left for Leading Artists. When that agency merged with Bauer Benedek and became UTA, she told the company she wanted to start her own shop. The partners could have frozen her in place for three months, but instead let her keep her office to start her new business from their headquarters, commissioning the business she booked until she left. Murphey left at that time to join Feldman. Lillard joined shortly after, and Hall completed the IFA quartet 11 years later. Being a small fish in a big pond saw some big clients move on — Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth moved to CAA — but it always seemed that the big shops respected her and did not relish raiding IFA. That rarely happens in such a competitive business.
Feldman once again felt it was time for a change. She has a strong working relationship with LBI CEO Rick Yorn, with whom she has shared clients in the past.
“I’m eternally proud of all the success IFA Talent Agency has achieved, however, I now feel the need to devote all of my time only focusing on clients’ careers as opposed to the day-to-day running of a company,” she said in a statement to Deadline. “I have known Rick for over 20 years and have the utmost respect for his career guidance and business acumen. Working alongside him and his team and combining our strengths and experience is a golden opportunity that I could not resist.”
As for Lillard and Hall, Feldman said, “David’s and Christy’s professional relationships, experience and commitment to the clients have been an integral part of IFA’s success.”
Yorn said he was eager to help Feldman and Murphey take the next career move. It is the first time in her career that Feldman will be a manager. “I have had the opportunity to work with Ilene since I became a manager in this business,” Yorn said. “We couldn’t be more excited to finally be working together under the same roof. She has over 30 years of experience representing talent. We’re thrilled her longtime colleague Wendy Murphey will be joining us as well.”