Aviva Skall Ron
(BA, Psychology, ’07)
Q & A:
- What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
Although I graduated with a degree in psychology, I had entered Hofstra University as a theater major in the Department of Drama and Dance. I truly enjoyed the theater curriculum as a whole. From performance classes, theater tech, and Shakespeare, to the history of theater and working in the costume shop, I loved every aspect of the program and being able to experience so many different sides of the theater world. Professor Jean Dobie Giebel was definitely my favorite and most memorable professor! After taking Introduction to Psychology as an elective, I realized my strong interest in the field and decided to switch my major and minor so that I would graduate with a psychology degree and a theater minor. I never could have anticipated how pertinent both fields would be to my future career!
- What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing learned in that position?
I came to work at Model Management Group (MMG) shortly after graduating from Hofstra University, and have grown in the company for the past decade. I started out as an intern and was quickly promoted to talent manager. I have always been a “team player” and picked up a lot of responsibilities that were outside the scope of my role, but helpful in the building of the company. Due to this, I was able to advance quickly and grow as the company grew. I worked hard to staff other positions within the company, and was instrumental in establishing our Canadian office and helping to open our affiliate, LA Talent Agency. I was promoted once again to head talent manager and finally to vice president of talent management and business affairs. I have learned so many valuable things about this industry, but one thing I learned about business in general is that going above and beyond without expecting anything in return will be noticed, and in the right circumstances, can be rewarded greatly!
- What is your field of specialty, and how did you cometo work in the industry?
I work in entertainment, which has been an interest of mine for as long as I can remember. I started taking acting classes at the age of 10 before attending the Calhoun High School On Tour Theater Program led by another Hofstra theater alum, Sal Salerno, and later entered Hofstra University’s theater program. I felt that graduating with a psychology major would give me a little more stability should my entertainment goals not work out, but luckily I was able to find a home here at MMG that helped me utilize both areas. The practical application of my theater background is obvious, but I have found that my knowledge of psychology has helped greatly in managing actors, models, and celebrities, as well as anticipating clients’ needs, and building lasting relationships within the industry.
- What advice would you give Hofstra students?
One thing that really helped me succeed was the large network I gained not only from attending Hofstra, but also by fostering long lasting relationships. As a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority (initiated 2004), I gained a true family within Hofstra’s Panhellenic Organization (or “Greek life,” as it is more popularly known and fondly recalled). It was through this large social network that I was able to leverage personal relationships into business relationships, as well as recruit strong employees for our team. Some of the best team members we currently have are Hofstra University alumni!
- In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
- What is a typical day like for a partner and vice president of talent management and business affairs at the Model Management Group?
Every single day is completely different – which is one of the things I love about my career! Since we are constantly scouting new talent and booking different jobs each day, I never know what surprises the day will bring! From meeting with a new talent and learning about them and their career goals, to negotiating contracts for various bookings, there is a lot going on at any given time, so the ability to multitask is so important. I also spend a lot of time on the road, as we are constantly traveling to events where we can recruit scout talent. We are a sponsor for the Miss USA organization, so I attend many of those state and national pageants as well as talent conventions, showcases, and so on. I am often asked to speak on panels or hold workshops to teach new models and actors about the industry, which is another aspect I love, as I definitely enjoy being considered a thought leader in my industry!
- In your role, you have secured bookings in outlets such as L’Oreal, Hermes, Ralph Lauren, ABC, Disney, Adidas, and Cosmopolitan, to name a few. Can you explain your strategy in successfully securing a wide variety of client bookings?
A huge strategy that has helped us be successful is never thinking we are experts! Someone who tries to predict who or what the client wants will usually be wrong, since everything comes down to personal opinion. By throwing as many hooks in the pond as possible, we are maximizing our chances of getting someone booked! We have also taken an approach where we collaborate with our talent and let them have a hand in what they get submitted on. This is really helpful because the talent knows best what their skill sets are, and therefore, what projects they’d be best suited for. It is helpful when they are given the ability to advocate for themselves – something most management companies do not let their talent do.
- How has your degree from Hofstra University helped you in your career?
As I mentioned previously, I definitely believe that my degree and my minor have helped me significantly in navigating this industry. That combined with the relationships I was able to cultivate as part of Hofstra’s alumni network has certainly set me up on the path to success, and I will forever be grateful to Hofstra University for that!
Aviva Skall is vice president of talent management and business affairs at Model Management Group (MMG), an international model, talent, and celebrity management company headquartered in New York City. Skall was heavily involved in the creation of MMG's Canadian division, MMG Canada, as well as the company’s Los Angeles affiliate agency, International Talent Agency (ITA).
MMG represents models, actors, recording artists, dancers, athletes, hosts, and celebrities who have appeared in print ads for companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister Co., Nike, Sephora, Foot Locker, Mercedes Benz, Puma, Dentyne Ice, Hanes, Budweiser, Converse, Gillette, General Electric, Bombay Sapphire, and Party City. Editorial features have included Elle, Vogue, Maxim, Women's Health, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, Muscle & Fitness, GQ, Vibe, Teen People, Essence, and Parenting. In addition, commercial features for companies such as L'Oreal, Reebok, Lancôme, Redken, Nutella, Nintendo Wii, Xbox, Miller Light, Vonage, Wrigley's Gum, and Bud Light have been secured as well.
MMG's talent can also be seen on television shows such as Glee, Gossip Girl, 90210, The Carrie Diaries, Collar, The New Girl, Orange Is the New Black, How I Met Your Mother, Power, Law & Order, Shameless, Person of Interest, The Big C, Elementary, Royal Pains, The Following, Blue Bloods, Celebrity Big Brother, Days of our Lives, and One Life to Live; Movies include The Wolf of Wall Street, The Hunger Games, Blue Valentine, Men in Black III, Get Him to the Greek, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Other Woman, Something Blue, Arbitrage, The Sitter, Sex and the City, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Hellraiser, and Disney's Sixteen Wishes. MMG has secured celebrity endorsement and appearance deals for major brands and products for up-and-coming and celebrity talent. In addition, in pursuit of the world's most marketable talent, MMG has created a partnership with several state directors for the Miss USA Organization by providing exclusive representation to the winners of the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants in 15 states.
Prior to joining the MMG team, Skall developed a deep passion for the industry, which fueled her drive to pursue a career in entertainment. She began her formal acting training at 10 years old in New York and continued training and performing throughout high school and college. Skall attended a talent search competition where she was discovered by MMG, and since then, she has appeared in several television shows and movies, including Law & Order: Criminal Intent; Disney's Enchanted with Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, and Susan Sarandon, and Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. After earning a bachelor’s degree nearly a decade ago, Skall joined the MMG team as a full-time talent manager, where she works hands on to start and/or enhance the careers of hundreds of emerging and celebrity talent in both the New York and Los Angeles markets, as well as bi-coastal and international talent.