Toronto-based rep Jackie Warden heads up the Children & Youth division at Ritter Talent Agency. She found her way into the casting industry as an actress when her then-agent, Teri Ritter, founded the company and thought she might be a good fit. Warden was a natural, and has been a driving force for the agency ever since.
Warden also manages the acting careers of her own family, including her three dogs. She has volunteered for many years with member training and education at the ACTRA Toronto Bi-Annual Members Conference, and constantly advocates for the rights of child performers.
Whether she’s being a super mom, helping young performers achieve their dreams or throwing axes on Tuesdays, Jackie is always at the top of her game.
1. How did you start working in the industry?
I was an actress and a stage mom first, for 14 years, before becoming a child and youth agent.
2. What inspired you to work as a talent representative?
As I was approaching my 40s, as a single mom, I was getting exhausted with waitressing as a side hustle.
My agent at the time, Teri Ritter, had recently branched off from another talent agency to start her own company.
She asked me if I would consider leaving acting to start a children’s division for her. She asked me to try it out for 6 months to see if I liked it.
I already had over a decade’s worth of experience with stage parenting, and I was also volunteering for ACTRA as an assistant to the child advocate, helping with member education at their bi-annual conferences in Toronto, so it seemed like a great transition for me!
3. What would you say to those aspiring to work in your field?
Be prepared for long hours and a 24/7 on-call career, but also be ready to literally make people’s dreams come true!
I’m four years into this career, and I still love the thrill of making that call to tell an actor that they’ve booked a gig!
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?
When the industry temporarily shut down, then came back with a strong preference for casting bubbled families (even if they weren’t all actors) due to safety, I made a huge pivot. As a children’s agent, it was much easier for me already having siblings and a stage parent, to just needing to convince one other parent to join in, vs., for example, being the agent of a 45-year-old man, and then needing to convince his partner and his kids to try to participate. So my children’s division became a “family division,” and I never worked so hard in my life. That being said, I was definitely rewarded with many, many real family bookings during this time!
My day to day was a lot more enjoyable before the pandemic. I’d make submissions, send out appointment times for auditions and get to spend a lot of one-on-one time with my actors. In Canada, the agent acts as an agent and as a manager, so I really enjoyed talking about goals, marketing, demo reels, etc.
But now, I often feel like a robot, just watching self tapes day in and day out and not getting as much hands-on time helping my actors develop their careers.
5. If you could cast yourself in any role from any time in the history of film, what would it be?
I’m going to change the question to a TV role instead, if I may?!
I have always wanted to play Darlene from the original “Roseanne” series!
6. What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of work?
I throw axes in a league every Tuesday, I’m an avid scrapbooker and I like to go rock climbing or cycling with my kids.
I’m also a huge dog person, so I spend a lot of time with my three fur babies!
7. What is one of your favorite acting performances to date?
Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction!!!
8. Who is an industry professional you admire and why?
I get such a kick out of Ryan Reynolds! He’s not afraid to make fun of himself, and he’s so creative with his use of social media to put out videos all the time, involving other actors and all of his business ventures. What an entrepreneur!
9. Do you have a quote or mantra that you live by?
I never wish time away. Live in the moment!
10. What are you looking forward to in the industry in the coming year and beyond?
I’m loving the return to in-person auditioning for commercials!
I don’t mind self tapes for film and TV at all, but getting rid of commercial self tapes will give me back precious time to use for managing my actors and for spending more time with my own family.