Noel Palm is a talent agent and founder of Element Talent Agency. He launched the company after working as an agent in commercials and unscripted for five years, but he always knew he wanted to be in the business.
Element has packaged or represented talent from projects including Hotel Impossible, The Carbonaro Effect and America’s Got Talent. Noel and his team have also booked clients in hundreds of national & global advertising campaigns with brands including Google, Facebook (Meta), Nike, Apple, Geico, Visa, Amazon and Adidas. But it doesn’t stop there.
Whether he’s tracking NBA stats or watching some groundbreaking performances, Noel’s always grinding to help talent get connected to their next role.
1. How did you start working in the industry?
I started interning at different talent agencies at 19 years old, while still in college. From day one I knew this was the business I wanted to be part of. TalentWorks, MGA and House of Representatives were all agencies where I’d work for free, pulling headshots (yes, there were once physical headshots that had to be sent to casting offices lol) and compiling submission packages for the assistants of the agents.
2. What inspired you to work as a talent representative?
First of all, I love actors. My respect for those who dedicate their lives to following their dreams is immense. They’re betting on themselves to create a business based on their individual talent and it’s exciting to play a role in giving them opportunities to be successful and do what they love for a living.
3. What would you say to those aspiring to work in your field?
Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom and hustle. Talent agencies are great places to learn the business because we interact with casting, producers, business affairs, lawyers, publicists and managers. If you decide you want to be an agent – find a way to add value. Like all other businesses – you want to make the jobs of those above you easier. You’ll get to a place where you can anticipate the needs of the agents you work for and suddenly you’re less replicable. That said, never be too good of an assistant because the goal is to be promoted.
4. What was a pivotal moment for you within your industry during the pandemic? How has your role and/or your day-to-day routine changed since?
During the lockdown in 2020 we hosted virtual meetings with our talent and different casting directors. It was a great way to keep up morale and connect with CDs that are typically too busy for hour-long meetings with talent. Dan Bell, Shane Liem, Michael Beaudry, Becky Wu and Laurie Records were some of the executives that were generous enough to connect with our clients and share their knowledge.
The role of an agent hasn’t changed post-COVID, but our day to day has definitely become more efficient. Signing meetings are virtual now, and while this shift was inevitable, COVID probably pushed it up a decade.
5. If you could cast yourself in any role of all time, what would it be?
Jerry Maguire. I saw the film when I was in middle school and it had a massive impact on me. Apart from Tom Cruise being one of my favorite actors, his portrayal of an agent that left an agency to start his own business ended up being very similar to when I left Venture talent to found Element in 2011. He started with a client that believed in him and grew from there.
6. What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of work?
I’m a big basketball fan, so playing pick-up games and following the NBA are big hobbies of mine.
7. What is one of your favorite acting performances to date?
A recent performance I loved was Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It’s one of those films that you can watch multiple times and discover new elements in every scene. Dicaprio was amazing at depicting the struggles and successes of a lifelong actor, while making audiences laugh at the same time.
8. Who is an industry professional you admire and why?
I’ve always looked up to Mike Ovitz. In college I’d read books like Power to Burn and The Mailroom and loved his story of being an ambitious kid with no industry connections, willing his way to becoming the most successful agent in the business.
9. Do you have a quote or mantra that you live by?
ABCD – Always be connecting the dots. I didn’t coin this phrase, but it’s always resonated with me in my professional and personal life. It’s having faith that things will come together if you keep pushing and grinding. Anyone can connect the dots looking backwards, but the real key is trusting your gut that the dots will connect and things will work out in the future.
10. What are you looking forward to in the industry in the coming year and beyond?
I’m looking forward to seeing how new technology will continue to define how we do business in the coming years. I think Hey Joe (virtual auditions) and We Audition (connecting talent with audition readers) are great examples of new platforms that will help make our industry more efficient moving forward.