Amy Retzinger '95 (Literary Agent, VERVE)
By Dominique Kalil '00
Something that always strikes me when I write these profiles is the absolute randomness (and I mean lottery winning type odds) with which the people I interview have ended up in the careers and places they have. Very few have deliberately contrived or perfectly cultured careers from the get go. In the end, however, these seemingly accidental careers always manage to match perfectly with the person's personality and professionalism for the task. Maybe this phenomenon is really just the universe keeping the world in order. If a person finally gravitates to that at which they are naturally gifted, then it's only natural they will excel with the same effortless perfection.
Amy Retzinger '95 started off premed at Harvard, but half way through decided to make a change and pursue a 'greater unknown' and (VES) Visual and Environmental Science. She hasn't looked back since. Following graduation she stayed in Cambridge, living in a house with four other Harvard grads while working at a low key production company. Amy admits to enjoying the work, but I get the sense she felt a little restricted. So she found her mettle, packed her suitcase, emptied her bank account and headed out to Los Angeles. There she crashed on the couch of one of her former Cambridge roommates – Abram Hatch ’96 – who also helped her to get interviews for assistant jobs around town. She ended up working at The Gersh Agency, in the TV literary department. Through a series of chance events (there's that theme again), just as Amy was about to start another assistant-ship elsewhere, an agent suddenly left Gersh, living an open position. Amy grabbed the opportunity and hasn't missed a step since.
Nurturing connections and catering to clients takes patience and tolerance – even in the short time I spoke with Amy, I sensed there was an abundance of each. However, what struck me as particularly exceptional was Amy's memory, which I'm guessing has been another key element to her success. Like most people, when I like a particular television episode, I might remember the episode name, and at best the name of the guest star. Not Amy, however. When I spoke to her and we began discussing all the random things that might pertain to this interview, she mentioned how back in college her favorite ER episode was called "Love's Labor's Lost" and that she recently had run into the author, Dr. Lance Gentile, recognized him and struck up a conversation. Her ability to remember details such as these struck me as really impressive.
Before wrapping up our chat, we discussed how difficult it is to not take things personally in this industry, especially in the agency world. Interpersonal skills are crucial. Clients become friends. And long workdays combined with after-hours script reading, set visits, tapings, drinks, and dinners make the job all-consuming. I can only imagine, then, how tough it is when clients decide to change agencies, which in a fluid market happens all the time. It takes a thick skin, no doubt. Of course this has rarely been Amy's experience, I'm sure largely due to her solid work ethic and her ability to "work her butt off" for her clients. For all aspiring future agents out there, Amy had some advice: "hustle!"