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Sasha Stoltz: ” Learn to say no if the project feels wrong. Trust your gut feeling”

Networking is so important on your journey. For me, it has been invaluable. I was fortunate enough to have people in my life that would let me tag along to events and screenings very early on. People that were serious about their work. I learned early on that not all events & media gatherings are […]

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Networking is so important on your journey. For me, it has been invaluable. I was fortunate enough to have people in my life that would let me tag along to events and screenings very early on. People that were serious about their work. I learned early on that not all events & media gatherings are places you have to be. For sure, if you want to attend to socialize, absolutely nothing wrong with that, but they can be exhausting and over the years, you learn to choose where you need to be and where your clients need to be. Some are also where you, as a publicist with your own company should be. For me personally, I handle them all the same. I never really think of them as a “party,” I try to always be professional. These events are ultimately about business. I’ve found when you have the opportunity to meet new people, to let them talk. Listen. It’s not always necessary to overload someone with information on yourself at the moment. Your time will come. Take the lead from them. Sometimes a conversation about climate change or anything but publicity can lead to a new client or a recommendation. Yes, for sure it’s good to be aggressive, but knowing “when’ is key. Respect is important. The head of a studio or the manager of an artist may just want to relax and enjoy the event. They will, however, remember someone with who they had an intelligent, and pleasant conversation, who didn’t sell themselves all night. They may give you their card. Remember to follow up, even if you just send an email saying, “it was nice meeting you.”


As a part of my series about the things you need to know to excel in the modern PR industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sasha Stoltz.

With a background deeply rooted in the business community, publicist & executive producer Sasha Stoltz, comes with a “both feet on the ground” quality that her clients have come to depend on. A respected member of North America’s publicity elite in the Film & Music industry for over 10 years, Sasha has become the “go-to” Publicist, able to “turn on a dime” whatever the budget. Her personal touch to every detail & ability to stay calm & poised no matter the circumstance has earned Sasha the complete trust of her clients. Her ability to connect & hold on to relationships is key to her success. Garnering contacts in Canada, & US ensures her clients receive the exposure they deserve. From a young age, Sasha was fully entrenched in several successful family-owned businesses. Sasha has worked the red carpets on both sides of the border, MMVA’s, Toronto International Film Fest, Gemini Awards, US Daytime Emmys & NAACP Awards. Sasha is also the Executive Producer at Have Faith Productions. Have Faith Productions just completed the feature film “Sons 2 The Grave” filmed in Atlanta. The next project from Have Faith Productions will be the feature film “Loud Silence,” and the TV series “Hudson.”


Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It sort of snuck up on me. I had always worked in my family’s businesses. Then, I began working for The ReelWorld Film Festival and Tonya Lee Williams. I started from the bottom as they say and worked my way into more responsibilities under Tonya’s wing. Working long hours at whatever was asked of me over the years, from setting up for events, handling media, working with the filmmakers, directors & actors, helping to show their films in the best light. I got my stride and the rest is history. Having a family that instilled a strong work ethic was also a blessing.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

For me it was a Red Carpet moment. First of all, I love the “pace” of my work, so I feel comfortable on the Red Carpet. Red Carpets are fast-paced and you have to navigate your client towards the right interviews and be ready for the next. It’s a difference if your client isn’t well known in the media world as some of your clients. In this case, you have to maneuver the carpet and be alert as it moves fast. That’s why it’s important to have the respect of the media. Being aggressive is a must but always be respectful. It’s a fine line. With more notable, seasoned clients, it’s important to remember to stay back and let the media have their time. I have the trust of my clients and know when to gently move them down the carpet. Again, it’s about you being the calming factor for your client. One of my most humbling moments, was working a red carpet in LA. I was approached by a representative for a major US actor who noticed me on the carpet. I was asked if I would return to the start after I was finished with my client and walk their actor down, followed by the actor himself approaching me. Of course, I acknowledged the compliment, but, declined and returned full attention to my client. The US actor came up to me at an after-party and said that he was impressed by my loyalty. Brief as it was, it reminded me why I love my work and even though it is never about you, people are watching.

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?

At the very beginning of my career, I always insisted on wearing the highest of heels and in most cases the most uncomfortable. But I didn’t car if they were trendy and looked good. Everyone told me how one day they would get to me. I never listened and forged on. One night during a festival, I was in charge of the evening and wanted to look sophisticated and of course trendy. Everyone was at this even from actors to the Mayor etc. The beginning of the evening was great. I had however been wearing the heels since early morning set up, refusing to wear sneakers or flats until event time (just in case). By the time3 everyone3 had seen the movie and were leaving all they saw was a very unsophisticated publicist on a chair with bags of theatre ice on both feet. I was devastated. Yes, I now2 wear sneakers, flats, and casual wear setting up for events.

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

I have been doing the publicity for the charity song “I Wish I Could” produced by Canadian music producer Dub J. Dub brought together Canada’s Godfather of Hip Hop, Maestro Fresh Wes & other Hip Hop legends for the song against the ongoing gun violence in Toronto. The song has climbed to number 1 on the Hip Hop charts and will be used in the feature film, Sons 2 The Grave to be released in 2021. The film is very personal to me, because it was written by Canadian author & screenwriter Lynne Stoltz & produced by Have Faith Productions, a family company where I am an executive producer and in charge of marketing. Next on the slate for Have Faith Productions is a TV series “HUDSON” and a controversial television movie, Face Value followed by Loud Silence from the novel Loud Silence and The Other Side of The Bed also from a novel, both written by Lynne Stoltz. Promoting these powerful projects that hit at the heart, especially at a time where I think people are looking for faith, family, very real stories. The challenge of making sure they get the attention they deserve is very exciting to me. Being a Canadian production company it’s important to me that people know what we as Canadians can do.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

Working in my family’s businesses, I was prepared for the business world as much as anyone could be & knew the following points, but I think they are an important reminder. There were a few things that when I was confronted within my own business, although not totally surprised by them, still made me pause & honestly think “really.”

1. Not all money is good money.

2. Push the line but do not take on more than you can do…. successfully.

3. If something falls apart, it’s not over, find another way.

4. Accept & learn from helpful criticism as well as you do praise.

5. Learn to say no if the project feels wrong. Trust your gut feelings.

You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?

Networking is so important on your journey. For me, it has been invaluable. I was fortunate enough to have people in my life that would let me tag along to events and screenings very early on. People that were serious about their work. I learned early on that not all events & media gatherings are places you have to be. For sure, if you want to attend to socialize, absolutely nothing wrong with that, but they can be exhausting and over the years, you learn to choose where you need to be and where your clients need to be. Some are also where you, as a publicist with your own company should be. For me personally, I handle them all the same. I never really think of them as a “party,” I try to always be professional. These events are ultimately about business. I’ve found when you have the opportunity to meet new people, to let them talk. Listen. It’s not always necessary to overload someone with information on yourself at the moment. Your time will come. Take the lead from them. Sometimes a conversation about climate change or anything but publicity can lead to a new client or a recommendation. Yes, for sure it’s good to be aggressive, but knowing “when’ is key. Respect is important. The head of a studio or the manager of an artist may just want to relax and enjoy the event. They will, however, remember someone with who they had an intelligent, and pleasant conversation, who didn’t sell themselves all night. They may give you their card. Remember to follow up, even if you just send an email saying, “it was nice meeting you.”

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

Reputation is everything and always. I’m not dodging your question, but I realize the typical answer is Web pages, advertising, LinkedIn, etc., all for sure important aspects of any business. But, for me, I never relied on them in the beginning. Word of mouth, work ethics, taking a client even for no pay, if it moves you forward, has led to my success, something I never take for granted. I firmly believe it can go as fast as it came. Respectfully, I’d like to answer the following, because I think it will be more helpful to someone getting started. I believe we can get bogged down with social media and putting everything out there. Timing is everything. Yes, it’s very important for our clients in the process, but for the publicist herself or himself you need a proven reputation, and including it with your personal life, in my opinion, is a mistake. Building a reputation that will enable you to move your clients forward is not a quick or easy journey, but a solid base for growth.

Most of myclients are returning ones. They know they can trust me with their projects. They tell others to use my company and they tell others. Last year I was asked to work with the Salvation Army’s “Christmas In the Square” because they had heard about my work. I do my research first and make sure I know my client. In the beginning, we have a meeting sometimes a few and talk about their expectations and how I can meet them. Unless it’s something unrealistic I don’t put up roadblocks and most importantly, I listen. Prospective clients usually know my track record before we meet, so, this is about their vision and how I can be a part of the team helping them realize it. I’m here to offer guidance, but at the end of the day, this is their show. I am very serious when it comes to my clients and work hard at making their public life free as I can from drama. Establishing this kind of reputation is important. Over time you build up relationships with platforms and people that work with you and your clients.

When representing a client that is new to the media, obviously excited about their project, and anxious for results, it’s important to make them aware that it takes time. False promises are an absolute NO-NO. Clients are obviously close to their work and take it very personally. This is one of the hardest parts of a publicist’s job, keeping your client positive. It’s the publicists’ job to make sure their client gets on platforms and in front of media that are most receptive. The duties of a publicist are many and vary with each client. “Cookie Cutter” campaigns, in my opinion, are not successful. Over time you build up relationships with media that work with you and all your clients. Once this is established is when your social media becomes very important.

Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?

I just finished the new novel by Canadian author Lynne Stoltz (my mom) which is due in 2021. It is also on the TV movie production slate of Have Faith Productions. Lynne wrote the fictional novel “The Other Side of The Bed” after we lost my father. I wasn’t allowed to read it while she was writing it, but when I did, I was inspired by the strength of the books lead character and the honestly on the end of a love story, the grief and moving on, not by forgetting but by finding a place to put the grief, visiting on your own terms.

Because of the role you play, you are a person of great 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. 🙂

I believe we have to be more giving of our knowledge. I have been blessed in my journey to have people around me that encouraged and supported me. Who, pointed out my mistakes and celebrated my wins with no agenda, but to support. Not everyone is willing to share their experiences on success. I feel we have an obligation to take time to help move forward others starting out. We didn’t get where we are without someone taking a minute for us.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.

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