WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE A...
Talent agent Leigh-ann Regan on her job in show-business
Leigh-ann Regan, 43, is the director of leading UK talent agency Regan Management and Larca Casting. She represents a large percentage of the actors in Wales and across the rest of the UK, with over 200 on her books, and has also worked as a casting director.
DIVA: What’s the best thing about your job?
LEIGH-ANN REGAN: Discovering new talent. When I was at the Edinburgh Fringe a few years ago I spotted Tom Mackley. I signed him and he’s now playing the lead in Harry Potter And The Cursed Child in the West End.
What’s the worst thing about your job?
Having to tell actors that they didn’t get the part. I feel terrible every time.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A singer and an actress. For years I played the lead in musicals such as Les Miserables, Gypsy and Fame, and appeared in TV dramas London’s Burning and Casualty. It was going really well but I felt that my future was in business and as a talent agent. I realised there were hardly any agents in Wales representing actors back then. Also, being an actress myself, I knew there were very few opportunities for Welsh actors outside of Wales and I wanted to change that.
What has been the biggest challenge in your professional life?
Raising three children on my own and starting a new business at the same time has probably been the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. I remember once being in the living room, with my seven-year- old using the sofa as a trampoline, my newborn baby boy in my arms and my three-year- old daughter doing her best Houdini act, constantly climbing out of the “secure” pen – all this while I was on the phone negotiating contracts and deals. But I wouldn’t change a thing. The business has grown beyond my wildest dreams and I have a beautiful family.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you at work?
When I was casting a musical a few years ago, we held open auditions for someone to play a 25-year- old male – then an 85-year- old man with no teeth walks on stage and he couldn’t sing! That gave us a giggle for a few weeks. But it was lovely that he gave it a go and we did put him through to the next round.
Has your sexuality or gender identity ever been an issue?
Twenty years ago as an actress, yes, definitely. If men in the industry were told I was gay back then they would usually try and get me into bed to prove a point. Some people found it hard to believe that I was actually a lesbian and wouldn’t take it seriously or respect that. Things have changed a lot, of course, and I’m proud to say that a large number of the actors I represent identify as LGBT.
Did you ever have any doubts about being out at work?
I’ve always been me. If anyone has a problem with that, they really shouldn’t be part of my world. I am open about my sexuality and my partner and I often go to events together as a couple. She is a journalist and a Stonewall LGBT role model, so we are pretty out and proud together!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I will still be CEO of Regan Management but I will also be in the first phase of setting up a dog rescue centre. As well as my day job, I am also officially known as “crazy dog lady” and I have five dogs at home – Liza Minelli, Bo Jangles, Gracie Fields, Tuppence and Arthur! Bo Jangles and Gracie Fields are rescue dogs and it’s been amazing to see them develop over the years from the sad and frightened little things they were when I first saw them to these loving, confident dogs they’ve now become. My dream is to be able to help more dogs like them.
What one superpower would make your job easier?
To be able to clone myself as and when needed so I could be everywhere at once! My day starts at 7am when I get up, make sure the children are dressed and fed, with homework in bags, and take them to school. Then I drive to the office for various meetings, castings and workshops and my phone doesn’t really stop ringing either. At 3pm I leave work to get the children from school, come home and cook for them and spend time with them in the evening. So if anyone hears of a start-up company offering the means to clone company directors, do let me know and I will invest!
How do you measure success?
I measure it through how happy family life is at home. It’s great to see the company develop. And obviously a huge part of the job satisfaction is when you see an actor receive an award at a big ceremony. But what I enjoy most is family time where we all snuggle up in front of the fire to watch a good film. They are such beautiful, clever, funny kids and when I look at them sometimes, it takes my breath away that I actually created them. They, above all else, are my world.
TALENT AGENT LEIGH-ANN REGAN RAISES THE CURTAIN ON HER JOB IN SHOW BUSINESS INTERVIEW
CARRIE LYELL “The best thing about my job? Discovering new talent”