Early on in her career before becoming one of the most successful agents in Hollywood, ICM Partners Head of Talent and Board Member Lorrie Bartlett was fat-shamed by an unnamed individual at the William Morris Agency, she says.
“Several years ago, I was told by a senior executive that I would never succeed because I was too fat,” Bartlett told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman during the BE Conference Dealmakers in Action panel, presented by ICM. “That I should lose weight if I ever wanted to move ahead. He didn’t say I was too Black. He decided that I was too fat.”
Bartlett added: “For me it was really devastating because I thought, ‘Wow, I’m actually doing pretty great work. What does it matter what size I am?'”
Bartlett, who was an assistant at William Morris at the time, recalled, “I didn’t cry for a week, I cried for an hour. That was a very astonishing thing to hear from someone.”
Bartlett then turned to her father, Bob Bartlett, the first elected black mayor of the city of Monrovia, who offered keen advice on overcoming adversity.
“You’re always going to have adversity. You’re always going to have people who tell you that you can’t do something, right? Your job is to show them that what they think doesn’t matter,” Bartlett said. “You’re going to show them by how you behave, what you do, your work ethic, who you are. You’re gonna show them that they’re wrong.”
Bartlett would leave William Morris shortly afterward and landed at the Gersh Agency, where she would learn her craft. “Bob Gersh and David Gersh and Phil Gersh were incredibly welcoming, and, and it provided me with an incredible place to learn how to be an agent,” Bartlett said.
In terms of what advice Bartlett would give her 20-year-old self, “It’s the advice I give a lot of young people now, which is pick your battles.”
“I think that it’s important not to sweat things that really at the end of the day, probably aren’t as meaningful, but really, find your lines in the sand and work your butt off to make sure that those standard standards are met,” Bartlett added.
Looks like Bartlett exceeded those standards and got the last laugh because she boast a stellar client list that includes Regina King, Michael Keaton, rising newcomer Rachel Zegler, and Lucy Liu, among others. In 2019, following in her father’s footsteps as a trailblazer, Bartlett became the first African American woman to join the board of a major Hollywood agency.
Watch the full panel above.
The BE Conference is comprised of three days of mentorship, education and career-building workshops by the most influential women in media and entertainment, WrapWomen. For more information visit: https://www.thewrap.com/be-conference-2021/