Kendall Rhodes is the founder and owner of Paraluman Media, a boutique talent management company based in Los Angeles that works with actors, directors, and writers to support, incubate, create and produce across all platforms. Before launching Paraluman, Rhodes previously served as Talent Manager and Co-Head of Digital at Untitled Entertainment, SVP Digital at Relativity Media and — before there was digital — President of Cherry Road Films, a film production and finance company with a first look deal at Warner Brothers.
This week, VideoInk caught up with Rhodes to discuss her inspiration behind Paraluman Media and how she is using the new venture to create a space where she has the freedom to pursue what inspires her — which includes podcasts.
VideoInk: It’s so exciting to see you break out on your own, congrats! What inspired you to make the leap and what’s the deal with Paraluman Media?
Thank you so much for even caring – I know that we are all so busy, so I really appreciate any form of congrats. The word – paraluman actually means “muse” or that which artistically inspires, so inspiration is exactly what motivated the leap. I wanted to create a space where I could do all the things that inspire me or what’s the point of working so hard? I am inspired by filmmakers, so now I represent more directors and writers. I am inspired by producing, so now I focus more on packaging projects, optioning books and creating more content with and for my clients. I am also inspired by, yes it’s true, podcasts and the #MeToo movement, so I built out a podcast studio in the office to finance, develop and produce podcasts that put women at the center of the story. My clients are not only actors, writers and directors but founders, producers, creators, personal brands, tastemakers and visionaries so I wanted to find a space that I could freely work with them and their specific talents across multiple platforms (digital, tv and film).
Kendall, you’re one of our former Digital Dealmakers so you’ve been seeing the ins and outs of the video space, especially for creators. What has changed for better or for worse since 2016?
I was so honored to get that award and thank you again for that acknowledgement. In two years, mobile has increased at an exponential rate. Digital platforms have exploded and they are all pretty much household names. Short form, premium content is being talked about as the future again, i.e. 10 by 10s. Apple, YouTube and Facebook are making major moves in content. Some YouTube talent has successfully crossed over to traditional Hollywood and there are real success stories that we can share now. Studio executives and parents know who YouTube stars are, which they didn’t 2 years ago. There is a more standardization and corporatization of the digital industry, which is neither good or bad really – just different. It doesn’t feel as much like the wild, wild west and in a way, I like it because people are finally catching up and catching on.
Some might say the creator hey-day has cooled. What’s your view on the appetite for activating influencers — by brands, studios, etc. And how do you ensure your clients’ business longevity?
All the clients I work with do more than just social media (and some don’t even do it)! I love to work with forward thinking people who I can help build businesses around. All of my clients branch out their interests into feature films, TV, books, merchandise and podcasts. It’s important to continually diversify what you do so that you remain relevant. Whatever microcosm my clients are in – I want to help expand that.
What’s one of the biggest pain points of the industry? And what’s the new frontier?
To be honest, my biggest pain is when buyers don’t buy something me or my clients are selling. I say that with a smile but I feel like sometimes we are delivering them the best, most forward-thinking projects and when they don’t get it, that’s a bummer.
The immediate new frontier is series, lots of content and diversity. Women’s stories and female directors are more popular than ever before. Diversity in casting is at an all-time high. Ethnically diverse storytellers are increasingly coming forward with great content that is actually being made. Another area that I am really excited about are serialized podcasts. I started HerPod podcast studio because we are developing IP that can potentially cross over into series. Just look at “Dirty John” (coming soon) – that is a great example of a podcast series that will be expanded into television and it’s one I am excited to watch.
It seems YouTube has put less focus on creators, at a time when competitors like Facebook, Instagram and Snap are putting more emphasis on them. How do you advise your clients on where to spend their time and energy?
My advice is to spend time and energy on developing original IP – your story – whether a novel, autobiography, personal brand, podcast or collaborating with other screenwriters and directors. I also always advise clients to spend time on honing their craft – go to acting classes, go out and make a short film, join a writer’s room, do stand up, or host a live show. And lastly, I always encourage everyone to give back. I want clients to speak out about what they believe in and help those that are less fortunate. It’s good to have a platform that can be used for some sort of greater good.
What’s another piece of advice you’d give any creator looking to take their business to the next level?
If you want to take your business to the next level, find people you trust and build your work family. Don’t do stuff alone but get a team of people who believe in you and keep them close.
What’s your business “no-no” that you’d tell partners looking to work with influencers, digital-native talent?
You can’t build a business with someone who doesn’t work as hard as you do. Any talent you work with needs to be professional, show up, call you back, respond to emails/texts, rewrite their scripts and deliver on deals. Otherwise, bye-bye. Being talented is only part of it, hard work and perspiration is most of it – digital or otherwise. The serious should only apply.