Updated: Jul 14
A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure to connect and have a conversation with Elana Dvorak. Elana was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She started her career in production working for Producer Lynda Obst, and moved into representation a year and a half later. Elana was a Talent Manager for 14 years at Howard Entertainment. Elana moved to Atlanta eight years ago, where she was a Talent Agent at Atlanta Models and Talent and Houghton Talent. She has also worked as the Casting Director for ListenUp Audiobooks, and currently works as a Talent Manager.
Atlanta Film and TV: Can you take us on your journey of how you discovered your love of the arts to where you are now?
Elana Dvorak: “Living in LA, the entertainment industry is just about everywhere you go. My friends and family weren’t in the industry. I pretty much hustled to learn all the information I could about the industry until I found something that fit. When it didn’t fit, I moved on to the next thing. After graduating from college, I worked in production for a while and interned. Once my internship was over, I went online and searched ‘Entertainment Jobs in LA.”
Atlanta Film and TV: Growing up, did your family recognize your gift of the arts early on? If so, how did they nourish it to facilitate your growth?
“Growing up, I knew I was artistic, and I have always had a love for drawing and painting, and I never had the patience for books and reading until I was in the second grade because I needed to touch and create things. My parents put me in art classes, and when I went to college, I majored in art.”
- Elana Dvorak
Atlanta Film and TV: You were a former casting director at ListenUp Audio Books (now Lantern Audiobooks). Can you talk to us and share with those who frequently submit the importance of following directions when submitting to a casting or following rules?
Elana Dvorak: "Creatives do not read well! But, it is always helpful to read and re-read instructions. If an actor does not read or follow directions, the Casting Director ends up editing their audition to follow the instructions given by the publishers. It is okay if we re-label one file. However, it will take up your day if we are re-labeling auditions for fifteen or more people. Then the casting director has to figure if it's worth their time to edit and re-label and audition versus if an audition is perfectly formatted, which allows the casting director to enjoy listening and or watching an audition."
Atlanta Film and TV: Can you share the importance of networking and building relationships in the Atlanta Film and TV industry?
Elana Dvorak: “I think Atlanta is a market that understands marketing well, and it’s one of the many things I love about living here. Actors truly help other actors, and if you’re in markets such as LA or New York, you won’t necessarily get that. The Atlanta acting community is truly a beautiful community. You do, however, have to search for it. No network or community is necessarily going to come to you. You have to go to it, which takes research and effort, just like any other relationship.”
Atlanta Film and TV: What is a talent manager for someone who may not know, and can you talk to us about the difference between a talent manager and a talent agent?
"Talent Agencies in Atlanta operate as Managers because there are not as many Casting Directors. Even now, I am seeing more talent agencies having rosters of thirteen hundred or more clients. Realistically, one or two people cannot service five hundred people equally. Most agencies have tiers."
- Elana Dvorak
"Managers have smaller rosters and can service fewer people but service those people well. Managers will keep track of things such as conflicts. A Commercial Agent has twenty-five hundred people and cannot know whether or not an actor shot an AT&T commercial last year that might be up for renewal next year. An actor cannot audition for a T-Mobile, which would conflict. But, a manager would be able to track those things because of their small roster.
If an actor wants to know how their auditions are going, an agent probably will not give you feedback. It is, however, the Manager's job to look at an audition and tell actors what they should tweak. Managers get work and assist with career development and guidance. Actors will not necessarily get career development from an agent because their job is to get work for their clients."
Atlanta Film and TV: You are looking to start your own management company soon. Can you talk to us about that, and what types of talent you’re looking for?
Elana Dvorak: “My main focus will be on kids. I have a love for them, and I find working with parents to be fun! I love watching kids grow, not only as a person but also as an actor. I also am focusing on adults, specifically ethnic talent, and being sure I have a diverse roster.”
Atlanta Film and TV: COVID has brought about a paradigm shift over the past year, and technology is being used in the entertainment industry in ways we hadn’t imagined before. Due to how content is now being created, produced, and distributed, in your opinion, how is this advantageous for those in the film and television industry?
Elana Dvorak: “I find the paradigm shift to be a mixed bag because everyone is now taping auditions from home, but actors can now go into certain taping facilities and tape their auditions. However, the farther away we’re getting from the pandemic, Casting Directors are becoming less understanding when it comes to auditions. I am, however, not opposed to auditions filmed at home. But, be sure that what you tape is of good quality. Be sure your video has good audio and good background quality. Even though everyone is still self-taping, travel is still up in the air. There are productions in LA that are hesitant about hiring talent outside LA. Whereas people in Atlanta look for more local talent. All-in-all, everyone has to be forgiving and patient with themselves.”
Atlanta Film and TV: Where do you see yourself within the next five years?
Elana Dvorak: "I would like to see myself continuing to grow in the Atlanta market, as well as grow my family."
Atlanta Film and TV: What would be some advice you would have for someone looking to pursue a career in film and television?
Elana Dvorak: "I would say you would have to truly want to work in the film and television industry because working in this industry gets hard! It’s hard not knowing when your next paycheck will come. And, to not bring your desperation to an audition because you will not book it! Be sure you want to pursue a career in the film and television industry because you love it. It has to be more than a hobby, and it cannot be your whole world."
Atlanta Film and TV: Where do you see the Atlanta Film and Television Industry in the next five years?
Elana Dvorak: "I think the Atlanta Film and Television industry will continue to grow, and I believe that we’re already having a lot of progress growing. A lot of the series regulars are coming out of Atlanta. It’ll be a slow growth, (which by the way, what I prefer) because when you move up quickly, you’re going to fall just as fast as quickly. In the grand scheme of things, the Atlanta market hasn’t been what it is for long. LA has been number one for film and television for a long time, and I think those in the Atlanta market need to be patient but know that we’re slowly growing. "
You can connect with Elana on Instagram @elanadvorak1980. Email submissions for talent is RipleyTalentSubmissions@gmail.com
For our full conversation, click here.