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Sunday, 16 September 2012 19:01

Q&A: Malinda Petersen , Owner, MP Talent Management Group

Written by  Lindsay Patton-Carson
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Q&A: Malinda Petersen , Owner, MP Talent Management Group PHOTO: Tommy Valdez
When Malinda Petersen started her theater major at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, becoming a successful businesswoman wasn’t on her to-do list. After finishing her degree, she spent time onstage as a performer but decided to take the behind-the-scenes approach when she started her own company in 2009. MP Talent Management Group, which helps performers find paid work, is Petersen’s business and, after a few years of steady growth, her main career focus. Petersen spoke with MiBiz sister publication REVUE West Michigan for an interview.


You run MP Talent Management Group. When did you start your business?

Officially in September of 2009. I filed the LLC in September and had started working on it in May of that year.

What’s your primary goal with the business?

To connect actors and live performance artists to paid work.

But on your website there’s a section for unpaid work.

That’s a community service to the independent filmmakers in town, as well as the actors who are transitioning from stage work to screen work. It’s a win-win for us to connect them to that and really, all we’re doing is posting the information and everyone else needs to follow up accordingly. But, it gets our actors more screen time.

Do you find value in unpaid work?

Yes, at a point in your career there is value to it.

Early on in the career, right?

Yes. Early on, all actors should do some community theater to get that experience. You should be an extra on a large-scale production when you can. You can learn so much just by observing the protocol and the behavior and etiquette that’s expected on set. But at some point, you have to understand and know your value.

Do you represent nationwide talent or is it mostly local?

I do have some actors who live in Chicago, L.A. and New York, but they all have a Michigan connection. The actors and performers that I represent here are able to perform on a national level because they’re that good.

What’s your favorite success story from a performer you represent?

We currently have someone on her second audition on “Glee” for a principal role. I’m not sure if that’s my favorite story, but it’s one that comes to mind and is very current.

Do a lot of your clients feel like they need to move to New York or L.A. to get decent, well-paying work?

Making a consistent living wage performing and acting in this community is still very rare because we’re an emerging market. I think within three years, we can have a dozen people doing that. If we have more, great, but for so long it’s been a hobby culture, so people get used to not paying and asking favors. And sometimes the artists are a detriment to themselves because they keep saying yes. I’m not against giving back and sharing your talents for the greater good, but it can be abused. … That training took time and money and practice.

You attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. What’s your degree in?

Theater. My mom had convinced me for the first year in college that I needed to have that safety career, so I declared a journalism major. I realized that’s not what I wanted to do. And honestly, I’ve been able to use my degree almost exclusively as a professional.

You don’t see that a lot — with any major.

You don’t, but you have to look. I had to work to find it.

Do you still perform?

I haven’t since 2008. I’m getting an itch, and I’m working on something with somebody that I think we’ll be able to perform next year. But this business venture has taken my time.

Do you enjoy working behind the scenes or would you like more of a balance?

There’s never been a part that’s come across my desk where I said, ‘Wow, I wish I could submit myself for this.’ And when it happens, then I’m on the wrong side of the industry. But currently, I love being on this side. I love the coaching of the actors and helping them get to where they need to be.

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