Joe Lorenzo: “Don’t live to work, you must work to live”

In all honesty, you must make mistakes. That’s how you learn and know how to make things right. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on any of the lessons I did learn. Even if someone preps you, you have to do it to learn as you go. It’s the same for an actor that […]

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In all honesty, you must make mistakes. That’s how you learn and know how to make things right. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on any of the lessons I did learn. Even if someone preps you, you have to do it to learn as you go. It’s the same for an actor that suddenly has attained fame. No one knows when it will happen, no one knows how it will happen. It’s tough to prepare for it, you simply must ride the wave, learn as you go..

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Joe Lorenzo, former renowned casting director/producer and talent manager, now CEO of Society Performers Academy.

Joe Lorenzo started his career in NYC, where he worked in a Management Development firm. Joe cultivated some of today’s hottest young actors, and writers. In September 2002, Joe moved to Los

Angeles, for a position in a Talent Management Company. In November 2003, Joe started his own Management Company, called JMA- Joseph Michael & Associates. JMA/ Joe Lorenzo represent Above the Line, and Below the Line talent, including such actors as EG Daily (noted for her on-camera work, as well as being one of the highest grossing voice-over actors of all time/“Tommy Pickles” of The Rugrats, “Buttercup” of The Powerpuff Girls, “Baby Mumbles” of Happy Feet, “Louie the Duck” of Ducktales, and more!);; Louis Moyle (7 yrs. Old) ( “My Name is Earl”), Nielen Benvegnu (15 yrs. Old) (Tarik in “The Sandlot 2”, and “Womens Murder Club” on ABC ), Amy & Zoe Schlagel(7 yrs. Old) (Lead/ “The Year of the Dog” for Paramount; which garnered the twin girls a 3 picture deal with the studio/ Paramount), outside of that 3 picture deal, they recently filmed the LEAD role in Bob Yari’s {“Crash”}, new movie “Christmas in Wonderland”; Kate Orsini (“General Hospital”); Ben Easter (“I Will Always Know What You Did Last Summer”) Tyler Blackburn (“Pretty Little Liars”); Kara Crane (“Disney 365, Disneys Minutemen”); Joel Rush (“Days of our Lives”); Aimee Lynn Chadwick (“Disneys Prom”); Lindsey Haun (“HBO’s True Blood”); Michael King (“ABC’s Last Resort”); Breanna Yde (“Nickelodeon’s Haunted Hathaways, & School of Rock”); Ajiona Alexus (“Netflix 13 Reasons Why” and “FOX’s Empire”); and such kids shows as “Zoey 101”, “The Suite Life Of Zack and Cody”, and the ever so popular “Hannah Montana”; and more! Such writers as Riley Weston noted for her work on Felicity, DISNEY (“The Youngest Writer Ever to Ink Deal w/ Disney as seen on DATELINE”), ABC, and more.

In 2006 Joe Lorenzo changed the name of his company to Society Entertainment, in continued efforts in the fields of packaging, and producing. With Joe’s background as a Casting Director (cast over 30 films), Joe has the capabilities to get Name Talent, Name Directors, and Recognized Writers on to projects he is producing. Joe Lorenzo packaged four films in 2005, including the feature film, “Girls Club” w/ Jaime King, and the Television Movie of the Week, “Christmas at Waters Edge”, w/ Keisha Knight Pulliam (“Rudy” from The Cosby Show), for ABC. In 2006, Joe produced “Rocker” a low budget indie with his client as the writer and the star. In recent years he produced the feature films “Next of Kin” in Los Angeles, “Boston Girls”, in Boston Mass, “The No-Sit List” aka “Babysitters Beware”, in Los Angeles, a kid’s movie in the vein of Dennis the Menace meets Home Alone, summer of 2011 he produced “Open Road” a coming-of-age drama with Camilla Belle, Juliette Lewis, and Andy Garcia. Currently, Joe is in development on “The Wind In The Willows” based on the popular children’s novel.

In 2012, with social media growing into the number one online marketing tool, Joe Lorenzo & Society Entertainment open a division specializing in managing Talent, Brands, Corporations, Charities, and Local Businesses. Through social media Joe increases brand awareness, fans and relevance for any type of entity listed above. Society Entertainment currently represents a hat line, a day spa (national), two local charities, two local restaurants, a nightclub, a national solar panel company, a premium Vodka and more. In 2017, the acclaimed talent professional opened Society Performers Academy to give all kids ages 6–18+ the opportunity to train, coach, develop their craft, obtain valuable marketing materials and provide them with the tools necessary to meet agents, managers and casting directors.

Joe’s references range from Marci Wiseman (SR Vice President at AMC Networks), Jim Sharp (VP of Production at FOX), and more. Lastly Joe is on the board of several charities in Los Angeles and nationally, and was awarded the prestigious “Good Neighbor” Award sponsored by State Farm in 2013. The Society Performers a Academy CEO also regularly guest speaks at UCLA.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Thank you for having me. I grew up in New Jersey, the Jersey Shore to be exact (and proud of it!) My parents divorced when I was just a baby at two years old so dual-households was all I knew. It was normal to me. I have an older sister who is two years older than me. Throughout my whole life I’ve been surrounded by strong women including my mother, sister and grandmother (who came to live with us in middle school after grandpa passed.) The man I am today is because of those three women.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I wanted to be an actor, sort of. I was sitting at the dinner table with my grammy and she loved the rag mags (like The Enquirer) and she pointed to Tom Cruise and said, “I can see you doing that,” so I started classes, went to New York and did a talent convention where I met a talent manager. SGE offered me representation and I then moved two months late to Los Angeles. My mom and I drove across the country in my then Ford Mustand convertible. I got into class, started auditioning and interning at my talent manager’s office and LOVED it. I loved it so much that I wanted to manage actors as a career, not be one. So, after a year of working with my then manager,I started my own company at the young age of 23.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

There has been a lot of interesting fun things that have happened over the years but what comes to mind is more general. The most interesting thing about my then job as a talent manager was building the actors career with them and their agents. Helping someone go from no resume to starring on a TV show or film, is so rewarding to accomplish. It feels so fulfilling to be able to tell someone “you booked it.” That was then. Since 2017 my company changed directions, stopped managing actors and started developing young people for agents and managers and so, Society Performers Academy was born. Society Performers Academy develops young actors, singers, dancers, models and presents that talent to agents, managers, casting directors and other key players in the industry. It is still the most interesting part of my job to call a parent and say, there’s interest from an agent in their child.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

There is no so much a mistake as it was a lesson. A lot of casting directors, when they put out a casting notice they say, “no phone calls,” and one time, many moons ago, I didn’t pay attention to it. As a talent manager, I’m a seller and the casting is the buyer and I have a drive of needing to get my talent out there and often times, I’m aggressive. There’s always one person on the buying side that really means “no phone calls” and she let me have it over the phone. What I learned was don’t let that deter you. Keep at it because you have a job to do. Your talent will thank you in the long run for giving it your all every time and the casting director will also, if they hire your talent. In the end, they got what they needed for the project, because of you being relentless.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Currently, I employ 19 people (through a pandemic, this is one of my most proud moments!) We have built a really powerful online program with over 100 hours of training available to children and parents all over the United States. Additionally, I am reopening my brick n mortar studios on each coast (Upland, CA and Point Pleasant Beach, NJ). They have been closed for 14+ months and finally able to service clients in person.

You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

My biggest mantra has always been and will continue to be “with the biggest risk, comes the biggest reward.” Take a chance, you may fail, but at least you tried. Walt Disney has a great quote that we have in a lot of our emails, “All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” It’s great to dream but you must act on it.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

The number one reason I have always pushed for diversity and inclusivity is because I myself am part of a marginalized group, I am gay. The LGBT community had been underrepresented for years in Hollywood until as of lately. Early on it was taboo for leading men to come out as gay. That would ruin their career. That is not the case anymore. Also, I had a friend who worked at the network in the diversity department and watching her make sure each show had certain races represented was etched into my mind of how I wanted to operate my own company. Lastly, Friends is one my favorite pastime TV shows but I look at it now and it is so bland, vanilla. It 100% could have had more diversity. While I love the show, I don’t want to watch that on screen. That’s not the world I live in. The world I live in has diversity. I had a proud moment when casting a film called “Bed & Breakfast.” There was a role that was written for a Wilford Brimly type, when reading actors it was coming out funny, so I suggested a Don Knotts type, still wasn’t there. Then I suggested about bringing in a gay male, which once we did, it was almost there. On the same day we were reading this role, wee were also reading the role of a female mail carrier loved in the community. The director and producers needed a chubby female. It was part of the storyline. One woman did so well she got the part but then another did so well that I said, “Since we love Emily, but she isn’t getting the mail carrier role, why not have her be the Wilford Brimley/Don Knotts/gay male role,” they said yes! We changed the role and the best part was the character’s name was Hank, we kept it and added a line for her, “Oh my name is Harriet but my grandpa always called me Hank.”

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

In all honesty, you must make mistakes. That’s how you learn and know how to make things right. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on any of the lessons I did learn. Even if someone preps you, you have to do it to learn as you go. It’s the same for an actor that suddenly has attained fame. No one knows when it will happen, no one knows how it will happen. It’s tough to prepare for it, you simply must ride the wave, learn as you go..

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Don’t live to work, you must work to live. I was so obsessed with career that other aspects of my life suffered such as my relationships, friendships, family, etc. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized what is truly important and it is the people that surround you, support you and are there for you. Don’t ste on them and don’t take them for granted. I do good work but I have a life outside of work. Work/life balance is crucial!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement would be to end all judgement and bigotry. Just because someone lives their life a bit different from you. It doesn’t make them wrong or any less deserving of success and happiness. I know a lot of campaigns strive for no hate but all marginalized groups deserve it now. The black and brown community and women deserve equal pay for equal work and more work in the industry. Look at a role when casting and ask can this be a poc, or can this be a woman?

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I had several people along the way. I am very grateful for other managers such as Mara Santino and Marv Dauer, to other casting directors such as Harriet Greenspan and Fern Orenstein. They always were very kind and with their knowledge. As for someone who helped me with Society Performers Academy, that’s my current staff. As a team, we learn and achieve together.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This goes back to the Walt Disney quote I mentioned, “All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” A lot of people dream but don’t do anything about it. So for me, if I dreamed of being successful, I went out and pursued it.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

ANGELINA JOLIE! She is an absolutely amazing actor and director. I think she does roles that only she can do. Things are tailored and made for her. No one else can pull off the acting she nails!

How can our readers follow you online?


This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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