In 2011, Elisa Hallerman was a highly successful talent agent handling TV and movie stars. She started as an assistant and rose to become a UTA partner and co-head of the talent department that handled marquee comedy talents like Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Jason Bateman, Owen Wilson, and Ben Stiller. In 2008, she left UTA and joined Endeavor as a partner. After the takeover of William Morris Agency, she continued as a partner at the combined WME, but she knew she wanted something more. A former addict who had been sober since 2002, she knew she needed to follow her heart. She became a certified drug and alcohol counselor (also certified in yogic science for addictive behavior with an MA and PhD (c) in Depth Psychology and Somatic Studies.) and founded Recovery Management Agency (RMA), using all of her skills as a talent agent, her personal experience and her training to custom-design patient centered, team-based treatment approaches, literally a recovery agent, figuring out the right individual course of treatment and coordinating the services provided by each member of the recovery team. Elisa is also the founder of Soulbriety. Soulbriety is a company that is focused on supporting people in their suffering so they can grow and ultimately transform their life. At She’s Fit to Lead, we believe you must “listen to your heart.” Elisa, we are so glad that you listened to yours. Welcome to the Fit List, Elisa Hallerman:
What made you decide to be an agent? I was an attorney living in NYC with my boyfriend. I was working at a small law firm doing personal injury and real estate litigation. I didn’t feel like being a lawyer was my “forever career”; it felt more like something I was doing because I didn’t know what else to do after college, so law school was an easy choice. My sister was moving to L.A. and asked me to come with her, and just like that I quit my job and broke up with boyfriend (which I had been meaning to do for some time), and moved to L.A. At first I worked in a bar for six weeks to “figure things out.” Then a friend introduced me to a woman who was a talent manager, and she suggested I interview at a talent agency. I didn’t really know what that was — I was young and it was a whole new world to me! — but I went on two interviews and got the job.
What did you do starting out? When I started as an assistant, it was very different from being a lawyer. I had to answer someone else’s phone, type labels and forms (yes, on a typewriter!), pick up lunch and coffee, and run errands. I quickly realized that I didn’t know anything about this business. I could see that the skill set I’d learned as an attorney would be valuable down the road, but I knew that I needed to learn everything I could from the man I was working for at the time.
What made you decide to start RMA? My friend Marianne Williamson gave me the best advice. She said, “Give 100 percent of yourself to the job until the last minute you are working there, and you will know the day that you are supposed to leave.” I waited until that day, when I walked into work and felt like I no longer worked there. It was a feeling in my heart, not just in my head. I walked into my boss’s office and told him I was retiring! It was the easiest decision I’ve ever made.
You have a very tough role where you need to support and inspire others. How do you stay motivated? I need to stay healthy and inspired in my own life. I read books, I go to lectures. I’m constantly learning from people I admire. That keeps me really motivated. I also try to be really honest and remain compassionate toward others.
What do you do when you have a more challenging day than usual? How do you regroup? When I have tough day I go into my toolbox and try to do one or more of the following: go to an AA meeting, call my sober sisters, talk a long walk with my dog, Goose, get a good night’s sleep, eat a healthy meal, meditate and really get myself back to place of peace.
What is your biggest confidence booster? Confidence killer? My biggest confidence builder is a cliché that works: Fake it until you make it! If you believe in yourself, others will too. The biggest killer of genuine confidence is our own ego. Understand the meaning of humility and make sure you practice it daily.
What’s the best part about what you do? I love working with other people. I’m an adrenaline junkie, so I put all that energy to good use and made a living out of solving problems.
What’s your favorite power meal? I’m not sure if this counts as a power meal, but I love pizza and going for sushi with my niece and nephew. I also really like the mushroom risotto at Capo! That’s probably more of a power meal.
The classic quest for “work life balance” – what’s your take? I’m working on the balance part. I have a tool called the Balance Wheel, and I check it regularly to make sure I’m balanced. The Balance Wheel is a way to measure how I am allotting my time in different areas of my life. The areas I tend to focus on are recovery, spirituality, education, business, friends, family, health and wellness, service and fun!
Elisa will be speaking at She’s Fit to Lead’s exclusive It’s All Happening Conference, May 21, 2016, in Manhattan,, and we can’t wait to hear her.
For more about the It’s All Happening Conference [click here].
To learn more about Elisa and RMA, go to recoverymanagementagency.com.
To read more of our Fit List interviews, [click here].