Professional Experience

Early Life

As the daughter of a successful actress and senior corporate lawyer, the career-that-is seems almost inevitable.   For entirely different reasons, both her parents were obsessive in the use and meaning of language within their work.  One creative yet interpretive – always seeking the truth of the text in pursuit of character.  The other seeking the exacting, specific language required to legalise matters previously agreed verbally.  From her mother came a true love of actors and what they do.  From her father, the analytical skills to secure the proper written protections for actors like her mother.  It could be said that agenting, in all its forms, was truly in her DNA.

At 14, she began hanging around the stage management department at Theatre Royal Stratford East, probably getting in the way but definitely confirming that the Arts was her way forward.   When university beckoned for others, Kelly went instead to Mountview Theatre School and qualified in Stage Management and Technical Theatre, graduating in April 1992.   Returning to Theatre Royal Stratford East almost immediately, Kelly began her career as Company Manager for some of their ground-breaking T.I.E projects.  Issues of race and women’s equality were openly portrayed and debated in schools where letter bombs and race attacks were routine.   This short but rather harrowing period remains a touchstone for Kelly in the equality and inclusivity drive that is so crucial in our sector today.   But the die was not yet cast…stage management, it seemed, was just a stepping stone.

Jonathan Altaras Associates Ltd.

A rather random offer for two-week’s holiday cover “on reception” was offered by Jonathan.  Those two weeks sealed-the-deal on what has become a 30-year career. At the height of its success, JAA offered an introduction into all things agenting.  Initially, the duties were typical of the time - photocopying overnight faxes so the images on the thermal paper didn’t fade, taking phone messages on pads specifically designed for the purpose, stapling talent headshots to CV's!  Jonathan was quick to invite Kelly to stay, and to encourage a training plan.   She split her week between the accounts department, and various assisting duties around the office for all the agents.  Jonathan believed that seeing a completed deal – and comparing the payments received was a great way to understand the value of a specific artist, over a specific amount of time, on a specific type of project.  “How much, for whom, in what?” forms the basis of every deal.  And the skill to make those estimations is something Kelly learned at JAA.

The clients of the agency were some of the hottest names in the business across all ages and all media.   Household names then, and now.  Although Jonathan is long retired, and the agency closed, those early training years were some of the best.

Markham & Froggatt Ltd. (now Markham Froggatt & Irwin Ltd., part of The Curtis Brown Group)

After a very brief period doing locum work in Casting (which really didn’t suit), Kelly accepted a temporary three-month contract with Ken McReddie before joining Markham & Froggatt in a permanent capacity.  An intense period of training began anew, when Pippa Markham thought she spotted an as-yet unnoticed skill.  After a terrifying six-months of learning how to read complex contractual clauses on television and film agreements worldwide, it seemed as if Pippa had been right.  The DNA from her father encouraged Kelly to become more business-affairs focused – fine-tuning her work with lawyers, producers and international talent managers to achieve the best deals possible. Always urgent, always across multiple time-zones, and absolutely crucial to get right.

This trial-by-fire training was second to none, and to this day Kelly relies on the knowledge of contracts, deal making and clause reading she acquired in those long, and brilliant, days.  

As time went on, Kelly became the staff member who attended PMA meetings – working alongside other agents for the betterment of actors’ terms industry wide.

It is this period of Kelly’s career that set the tone for much of the work to come, and the nature of her current working life.  Her intimates identify Kelly’s ability to read a clause five different ways, and to diagnose the best way forward, her professional “super-power”.  The thorny, complicated clauses and issues that she first worked on at Markham & Froggatt formed the foundation of the skill-set she offers today, and the source of that ‘superpower’.

Brown Simcocks & Andrews (UK) LLP

In 2004 Kelly left M&F to open her agency.  After a relatively short time working alone she met and joined Carrie Simcocks, whose business partner Barry Brown, had not long retired.  Brown & Simcocks had long operated as a boutique agency that valued the actor/agent relationship highly.   Designed to foster a sense of “access” and extended family, they worked hard not just to secure work for clients, but also to advocate for them with rigour and enthusiasm.  The success of this approach could be seen in the number of actors who remained with the agency throughout its life.  Many clients stayed their entire career – handed from Barry to Carrie and, ultimately, to Kelly alone when Carrie retired in 2016. 

Kelly continued to work as an active member of the Personal Managers' Association (PMA), ultimately becoming a council member and Co-Chair (Artists) in 2018. 

The Personal Managers' Association

The PMA is a membership organisation for agents who represent actors, writers and directors working in film, television, theatre and radio. It was set up over 70 years ago with the intention of encouraging good practice among agents by encouraging better communication between agents; and better communication from agents to the industry.  Run by, and for, it's members – a structure that allows all voices to be heard and collective decisions to be made.

During her long career, Kelly has been extremely active within this organisation, attending committees, working groups and conferences with sector stakeholders, striving to safeguard working terms and conditions, to eliminate sexual harassment and bullying, to enhance the terms of IP acquisition and to promote inclusivity and identity.  She worked extensively with organisations such as Equity, SOLT, UK Theatre, SAG, PACT, Spotlight, and the business affairs departments at all the major networks in the UK and abroad both before, and during, her time as Co-Chair (Artists).

Kelly holds a teaching certificate permitting her to teach people 16+.

She is a member of BAFTA, and a voting member for the annual BAFTA Film & Television Awards.

She loves all things Shakespeare, openly declares her love of country music, and is obsessed with manned space flight.

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