Top 5 Talent Agencies

By Paul Parcellin ; Updated September 15, 2017
A movie star during a photo shoot.

The top talent agencies wield enormous power in Hollywood. Their supremacy is measured by their roster of actors, actresses, directors and other "above the line" talent they represent, as well as the deals they help broker. There are numerous talent agencies in Los Angeles, New York and other entertainment enclaves, and only a handful dominate the field. Creative Artist Agency (CAA), United Talent Agency (UTA), William Morris Endeavor (WME), International Creative Management (ICM) are the big four. Following closely behind is Paradigm.

Creative Artists Agency

When you’re talking about influence and power among the biggest talent agencies in the business, CAA is top of the heap. Founded in 1975 by five upstarts who bolted the William Morris Agency, CAA rose from being a modest startup to a titan of the industry. In its first week as a new agency, the group inked three television deals and never looked back. CAA’s headquarters are in LA, and it also maintains offices in New York City, Chicago, Nashville, London, Beijing, Dubai and Stockholm.

United Talent Agency

UTA, the progeny of a 1991 merger between middling-sized Bauer-Benedek Agency and Leading Artists Agency, grew up to play with the big boys in the entertainment field. In addition to representing stars, the agency has delved into fashion, publishing and computer video games. UTA is also known for its “UTA Job List,” an exclusive rundown on industry employment opportunities. You must have Hollywood connections to receive it, however.

International Creative Management

ICM has grown to be one of the world’s largest talent and literary agencies. Founded in 1975, ICM represents creative and technical talent in motion pictures, television, music, publishing, live performance and in new media. In addition to the A-list actors ICM represents, the agency helped create hit television shows such as "Sex and the City," "Cheers," "The Simpsons," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Baywatch." The firm maintains offices in LA, New York and London.

William Morris Endeavor

WME Entertainment is the product of a 2009 merger between Endeavor and the William Morris agency. One of Endeavor’s founding members, Ari Emanuel, is the model for Jeremy Piven’s crazed talent agent Ari Gold in the HBO series, “Entourage.” Some of Endeavor’s A-list talent has included Matt Damon, Dustin Hoffman, Keira Knightley, Adam Sandler, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner and Tina Fey. The Endeavor-William Morris merger created the largest talent agency in the world, with almost 5,000 employees.

Paradigm

Paradigm’s Beverly Hills headquarters, with its Scottish iron gate and 30-foot marble colonnade, informs visitors that this agency is a major industry player. Renown for its formidable motion picture and theatre departments, Paradigm has earned its place among the top players in the industry. The agency’s roster of A-list talent has included Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne and Katherine Heigl. In addition to its swanky Beverly Hills digs, Paradigm also maintains offices in Monterey, California, Nashville and New York City.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Paul Parcellin writes for a variety of publications, including The Boston Globe, Creative Screenwriting, American Craft magazine, Art New England and Citysearch.com. He has served as lifestyles editor for the Salem Evening News in Salem, Mass., and reviewed art exhibits for Art Papers magazine.