Featured Woman: Barbara Barna Abel
|October 10, 2012||Posted by SheNOW under Featured Women|
Meet and Connect With Casting and Talent Agent Extraordinaire!! Find out how she got her job, her lessons and words of advice, casting info, how to work with her and much more!
President/Owner of Abel Intermedia, LLC
(Talent and Content Development Company)
—–> Previous Director of Talent Development at VH1.
—–> Cast channel and show hosts, including Jeff Probst (Survivor/CBS) on Rock and Roll Jeopardy and Wayne Brady (The Wayne Brady Show/ABC) on Vinyl Justice.
—–> Helped create The RuPaul Show and Sex, Lives and Videoclips with Candace Bushnell (while the author was still actively writing her acclaimed “Sex and the City” column for The New York Observer).
—–> Original talent executive on the VH1 Fashion Awards.
—–> Clients include broadcast and cable networks and production companies such as AMC, BBC America, Bravo/NBC, Discovery Networks, HGTV, Nickelodeon, SpikeTV, Style Network, Sundance Channel, Sharp Entertainment, Stick Figure Productions, True Entertainment…
—–> Has raised money and started five micro-credit banks through FINCA Based in Haiti and Afghanistan, these banks change women’s lives by providing small business loans allowing them to provide for their families, rise out of poverty, send their children to school, etc.
—–> Check out her amazing credits and the WELL KNOWN people she has cast = HERE!
—–> Barbara trains people to be their best selves on-camera. Clients include tv hosts, actors, comedians, experts, chefs, models, designers, athletes and corporate executives.
Are You Married? Yes. I got married at 32, and we are still married.
How Many Kids Do You Have? Two, ages fifteen and eleven.
How Did You Get To Where You Are Today? I got into the entertainment business while I was still in college, but I always knew I wanted to be in the film industry. I was music director of our college radio station, I had relevant internships and I studied film history.
In my late 20’s I woke up one day and asked myself, “What are you doing with your life?”
It’s a very common crisis of identity that most have in their twenties, and I was thinking, “Holy shit, what am I doing?” And, to SheNOW’s point, I didn’t have kids so I decided I needed to kick myself in the ass, pick up stakes and move.
As a great life coach told me, I just needed to go scare the shit out of myself, and I knew I had to move forward and put myself into high gear.
I had two choices, San Francisco, where I had family, or New York, where there were way more career opportunities. I started shoring up all of my skill sets and asking myself, “What do I have to do to make this happen?” I began networking like crazy and doing all the things you’re supposed to.
Once in New York, I got hired at VH1 to do a 3 week project that turned into a 3 month project. I ended up staying 11 years and running the talent development department there.
At the end of my time there, everyone in the company left, and it was like, “What am I going to do.” I had to reinvent myself again because the business had changed and the job I was doing didn’t fit in most business models anymore. I thought, “Okay, I’m going to start a company.” And then, I just did it.
It’s really easy to get scared and bogged down with the little things like, “What is my business card going to look like?” It’s not that all that stuff isn’t important, but that’s a really easy way to avoid actually doing anything. People halt the process by saying, “You know what? We don’t have the stationary yet so we’re not going to open up.” It’s just an excuse. Do it.
Did You Come From A Family With Connections? And, Did You Have Any Naysayers?
My family wasn’t in the entertainment business so I was a total outsider and had to make all the contacts and connections myself. So many people told me, point blank, when I was in college, “Oh, you can’t do that because you’re not connected.”
I was a dreamer and a little bit of a rebel with an independent streak that made me say, “I am going to go do this.” And, I did! It wasn’t always easy. I had friends my age doing much better economically right out of college. You know, in this business you do not strike gold at a young age, and it was a lot of grunt work upfront. I would get down about that sometimes, and they’d remind me, “Yeah, but you’re actually doing what you said you would do.”
What Do You Think Would Be Different Had You Married Earlier? Do You Think You Would Have Started Your Own Casting Companies And Be Doing What You’re Doing?
For sure not, because then I wouldn’t have moved to New York. For me, it was like, “Boom-Boom-Boom.” It all fell into place like dominos. Certain steps led to others. I believe when you’re in the right place and where you’re supposed to be, put in the hard work and everything starts to fall into place as it should be.
What Do You Think Women Miss Out On By Getting Married Too Young?
The whole point of what you’re talking about; you miss out on finding yourself. I did a heap of growing in my twenties and honestly, when you marry and start having kids, you are no longer the priority. And, in a way, it’s natural and as it should be. And so, I think your message is important because you are a better parent, a better partner, a better everything when you are mature and self-aware.
What Is Your Most Prominent Memory From Your Twenties?
In hindsight my twenties were painful. There’s no sob story, but it actually relates to why I like your website so much and why I feel everyone (young women and men) should have this time to discover themselves. You should experience growing pains in your twenties and be allowed to explore, to make mistakes and to experience things. Of course, I mean all of this in a productive sense.
The thing of it is that the only way you’ll grow and evolve into who you need to be is by taking some risk and trying some things on. Some things will stick and some things won’t. Sometimes you take some detours on your journey and you hit road blocks, a dead end or even just a giant ditch and you’ve got to back –up, turn around and then go on.
I had a fabulous time in my thirties and really started to blossom in my business. And, I don’t think any of that would have happened if I hadn’t really allowed myself those experiences and did the work I needed to do. I turned 50 this year, and I’m not sitting around thinking, “What if I had only…” because I did all of it!
What Marriage Pressure Did You Deal With?
Nobody ever said it out loud to me, but it was always sort of implied that if you’re a young woman, you are going to get married and become a stay-at-home mom. It was like, “Whatever you’re doing now is fine, but it’s not what you are going to end up doing.” There wasn’t that much focus on having defined goals and action steps on how to get to them. So, I did bumble along for a little bit, but I think most young people go through the same thing. That’s another thing I like about SheNOW, you are helping women to establish those goals/dreams and to think about their life in a different way.
I’ll never forget, and it’s appalling now, but going to a Father/Daughter function with my dad back when I was in high school. I was in California and wanted to go back east for college and a man said to me, “Do you want to live on the East Coast for the rest of your life?” I said, “I don’t know….why?” I didn’t even understand what he was asking. He said, “Because you’re going to meet your husband in college and, of course, you’re going to live wherever his family lives.” (SheNOW says……ACCCHHHACK!!!)
That was a long time ago, and I am shocked and horrified that young women are still getting that message today. I thought that that man was an anachronism in 1977 and to think that his junior version is still walking around……uh! I cannot believe that women are still getting this message.
What Fears, If Any, Did You Face And Overcome?
I think when you’re younger, there’s the fear of not living up to your parent’s, society’s or even your own expectations. As an exercise, I made a list of everything I was afraid of, and it’s an awesome exercise for anyone to do. Of course there’s the funny ones like, “I’m afraid of spiders.” Ha!
Mine went on for pages, and I just had fun with it. Then, ask yourself, “Why am I afraid of that? That’s dumb.” And then you can take it off the list. You recognize the fears, articulate them and then really dive in and understand why it’s a fear. Most of the time, after that, you realize underlying thoughts, concerns, issues and gain the ability to see why you feel a certain way about things. Often, you can then question and understand if it’s a rational fear, like the fear of a masked man in a dark alley, or an irrational fear like the fear of moving, failure, or a fear of the unknown.
There are tons of fears you have in your twenties and beyond, and it’s one of the things I love about your site. SheNOW is showing women that other people are feeling the exact same way. You are not alone, and there’s a community out there to support you and share in their own experiences and advice
What Do You Wish You Knew When You Were Coming Out Of College?
A couple of things:
1) I wish I had understood that it’s business, not personal. It can be really intense in a meeting and men can walk out of the door laughing. I get it now. I’ve matured, and it’s important to know how to separate business and personal things.
2) A big message is that it’s really important to stay adaptable, stay fluid, be curious and be open to change. The music business I started in eventually ceased to exist as we knew it. Literally the way to get anywhere is constantly growing, re-inventing and being adaptable.
Do You Have Any General Advice For Women?
Whatever you do, do it with integrity. If you’re going to bake a cake, bake the best damn cake. Go big or go home. Don’t do it half ass. Honor your commitments because when you do that you’re honoring yourself.
Favorite Quote? Estee Lauder – “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.”
Contact info? This is all public & available. I love to connect!
Barbara Barna Abel
Abel Intermedia LLC
32 Court Street, #706
Brooklyn, NY 11201
twitter = @barbarabarna
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Headshot Photo Credit: Nick Coleman