SPOTLIGHT Interview with Laurie Kessler and Rita Tateel, CEO & President of The Celebrity Source, Celebrity Experts & Booking Agency
This week's featured professionals are Laurie Kessler and Rita Tateel, the CEO and President respectively of The Celebrity Source. The company makes matches between celebrities and brands, for both corporate and non-profit clients, with access to thousands of stars from film, television, music, sports, fashion, digital-influencers, and experts in a variety of other industries.
The Celebrity Source was established over 30 years ago. What do you attribute the longevity to and why do celebrities and their assistants like working with you?
We keep all our promises, and we don’t make any promises we can’t keep. We treat the celebrities as if they are our clients, making sure they are well cared for; and every detail of need is addressed. We are honest, trustworthy and communicate in a timely and professional manner. We also love humor and are just plain fun to work with. All these qualities cause clients to come back to us and celebrities wanting to work with us whenever they can!
Above: Adrian Brody, Christian Slater and Keanu Reeves at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pro-Celebrity Race.
Credit: Rita Tateel of The Celebrity Source
I read that The Celebrity Source prides itself on making “authentic” matches. What does that mean?
We feel that if a celebrity is attaching their name and/or image to a brand or organization, it’s important that there be a reason apart from money. There needs to be authenticity in the connection, something the celebrity sincerely cares about, is touched by, personally utilizes and loves, or is in some way personally connected to. Today’s consumer is very savvy, and they can spot whether an endorsement is sincere or not and matches what they perceive the celebrity values.
Part of what we are hired to do is extensive celebrity research in order to suggest celebrities to our clients who are authentic matches with their brand and values. By the time we’re bringing requests to the celebrities they know that what we’re bringing them is likely a fit and if they accept, we know that the match will feel authentic.
What is the biggest misconception companies have about hiring celebrities for endorsements?
Celebrities are too expensive, so they can’t afford to hire one. The truth is that there’s a relatively small percentage at the top of the very expensive celebrity ladder with a greater proportion making up the rest--famous names who may be in-between jobs, 3rd or 4th billing in a cast instead of the lead, retired athletes, stars of yesteryear, etc. who may be incentivized to work for lower fees.
Sometimes the key is knowing what might motivate the celebrity to say “yes” apart from money—we make it our job to keep our hand on the celebrity pulse for these kinds of things. Other factors that could affect fees might be additional perks/gifts which can be offered, whether there’s a cause/charity benefitting and the type and length of exposure, among other factors.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about working with celebrities?
The word “anticipate.” It’s important to anticipate questions, anticipate needs, likes and desires and anticipate what could go wrong, with a solution at the ready!
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Written for assistants and estate managers working for celebrities, CEOs, UHNW families, billionaires and royalty