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Artist Spotlight | Lillian LaSalle | Talent Manager | Film Producer

Author: Libby - Printique by Adorama

Walk down any street in a big city and nestled within the buildings are artists creating, brainstorming, designing and bringing their talents to life. A true creator never stops challenging themselves and improving their art. We are carving out a small corner of the internet to showcase these artists, dreamers, designers, and entrepreneurs. This month, we are strolling to the neighborhood of West 28th street and stepping into Sweet 180 Talent and Literary Management and visiting with its owner Lillian LaSalle.

Walking into Sweet 180, you notice a warm and welcoming presence with Lillian. Her walls are adorned with artwork of all the productions she’s been a part of through the years. More importantly, it shows her dedication to her clients’ success. So who is Lillian LaSalle and how did she reach this point in her career? We sit down with her to ask these questions and print her story for her to realize how many people she has helped along her life’s journey.Here is her story and the stunning results.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a first generation American and the only person in my immediate family that was born in the US – my siblings are also immigrants. Brooklyn was a wonderful place to grow up. There were a lot of immigrant families in my neighborhood from all over the world. A lot of my friend’s parents didn’t speak English, but their kids did. I can only imagine what kind of adjustment it was for my and my friend’s families to come to a country and not know the language or customs. I think immigrants are some of the strongest and bravest people I know. Being the youngest of four siblings had it’s own complications. My brothers were over a generation older than I am so it was almost like being an only child. Looking back, I know that this is what led me to be so independent. 

How did your father’s entrepreneurial spirit and belief in “you can do or be anything” shape your career aspirations?

My father’s knowledge, strength and spirit had a profound effect on me. He was orphaned as a young child and had very little resources. He came to the US with nothing. Although he was not able to attend school, he was the most intelligent man I have ever met. He spent hours a day in the library growing up, where he educated himself in all subjects. If he were alive today, he could sit down and teach you calculus. He also spoke seven languages. He repeated the “you can do anything” mantra throughout my childhood. He believed that your circumstances do not have to define who you are or who you will become. He was my role model. This gave me an incredible amount of confidence in myself, to have a parent hold that kind of positivity for me. I became an entrepreneur right out of college.

(12×12 Hard Cover Photo Book by Printique)

You majored in acting at the High School of Performing Arts and later pursued classical guitar performance at SUNY Purchase. How did these diverse artistic experiences influence your path in the entertainment industry?

These experiences were absolutely integral. First, I knew how to represent artists because I understood them. I understood the discipline they needed to have and keep up and the creativity that defined them. They say that artists are often misunderstood. I knew that feeling and how lonely a place that can be.

In addition, knowledge of music in practice, performance and in the study of music theory has proven to light up certain neurons in the brain that then translates into a better understanding of other creative area. I believe that the influence of playing classical guitar led me to understand structure in seeing and reading work, the ability to hone in on certain areas that I feel can be improved or mastered. And getting back to discipline, a lot of people want to be famous actors, for instance. But they lack discipline. After living a life of practicing my instrument 7-8 hours a day, I hold the artists I represent to the highest standards. It’s also an honor to see their work grow and be witness to it.

(12×12 Hard Cover Photo Book by Printique)

Could you elaborate on your journey from being an intern at a boutique agency to becoming the youngest agent in Equity history to be sub-franchised?

This was a very exciting time. I was in my early to mid twenties. An acquaintance told me about an internship at a talent agency and a lightbulb went off. Before then, I didn’t understand how studying acting and being a musician was going to relate to whatever career path I was going to take. I’ve always had a deep work ethic. Apparently, I was doing things other interns had not done. I was going above and beyond. One day, I showed up at the office earlier than everyone so I could clean and reorganize the area that held this agency’s VHS tapes. (Yes, VHS!) I was a natural on the phone and a couple of people at other companies asked about me. It wasn’t a month before I was working as an agent’s assistant and then became an agent. I liked helping people. I did that for three years before deciding, quite naively, to venture out on my own. I understood that agents were not permitted to produce projects but managers were. I knew that I was meant to produce. I am still an artist and carry that with me. You are never not an artist. I wanted to participate in making creative projects with others.

(12×12 Hard Cover Photo Book by Printique)

How did you come up with the name Sweet 180 for your company, and what does it symbolize in your journey?

For a time, I took on a partner. While the partnership worked it was great, until it wasn’t. The parting was very hard for me but there was good news ahead – as a sole owner again, I could spend more time managing and less time running a business. That’s where Sweet 180 came in. I literally did a 180. 

(8×8 Photo Tiles by Printique)

As both a manager and producer, what aspects of your work do you find most rewarding and fulfilling?

This is a very hard question to answer because there is so much crossover. I feel rewarded when my client’s succeed and when my client’s grow as artists. Having a career as an artists has many, many facets. As a manager, I bring all of those together. When it comes to protecting my client’s best interests, I am a leader. I proceed with no fear. I like the feeling of embracing that part of myself. I too have many facets. And I am able to use all of those parts of me, from mothering therapist to a bad ass negotiator. Whatever it takes. Mostly, people I work with are putting a lot of their trust in me . I don’t take that for granted. When the trust is reciprocated, you have the foundation for very successful teamwork. That bond feels amazing. It’s the same with producing. You need to be able to assemble a team with varying personalities to come together and make a project come to life. When people are uplifting each other on a team and everyone is working together, great things can happen. Being on a film set and watching magic happen between the actors and the director is probably one of the most, (aside from childbirth!), profound things I have gotten to witness. There again is an example of an immense amount of trust. I am just happy to be a witness to it.

(8×8 Photo Tiles by Printique)

You have a family, including two children, and a beloved Coonhound. How do you manage to balance a busy career with family life and personal interests?

This was very hard in the beginning of growing my business. I found it very hard to have a real life. I would spend long hours at the office and traveling. I cherished the time I had with my family, but to be honest, in those early years, I wasn’t as present to them as I am now. I persisted and my company grew. The gift of aging helped a lot. I now understand how to have more balance. I only wish I had learned this earlier.

(12×12 Hard Cover Photo Book by Printique)

What brings you joy?

I love to read. I want to hug my books. I had long dreamt about having a home in the country since I’ve been a NYC girl all of my life. That dream came true seven years ago and it’s my happy place, surrounded by acres of trees, woods and grass. You can here a pin drop and hear every leaf blow in the wind. The stars at night are the clearest I have ever seen. Yoga has been a part of mental and physical health practice. I love to spend time with my children. Teenagers are not easy! But it’s a joy when they let you in.


We want to thank Lillian for opening her home away from home with us as well as her creativity and her passion. Together, we fashioned a 12 x12 Hard Cover Photo Book with Luster pages. We also printed a gallery wall of  8×8 Photo Tiles.

Like to see more Artist Spotlights? Check out Artist and Actress Sheetal Sheth – HERE. You can also dive into the world of fashion with fashion designer Christine Alcalay – HERE.