Discover Germany, Austria & Switzerland sits down with agent and founder of ZTA Management Zetha Asafu-Adjaye to discuss diversity in talent management, the problem of gatekeeping in that profession, and much more.

DISCOVER GERMANY: How did you get into talent management?

Zetha Asafu-Adjaye: Like most things in my life: with no holds barred. At the age of 16, I did an internship at a talent agency in Berlin and realized early on that my calling would be behind the camera rather than in front of it. I grew up in Lower Saxony in a foster family that had nothing to do with the film industry. In my biological family on my father’s side, however, there were several actors. My grandfather Peter Fitz was a renowned theatre and film actor in his time, which gave me a glimpse into the agent profession and the industry on my occasional visits to Berlin. He always told me: You’re not going to be an actress; you’re going to be an agent. He should be right.


Zetha Asafu-Adjaye and Elias Asbai, management assistant.

DISCOVER GERMANY: What do you love most about your profession?

Zetha Asafu-Adjaye: I can be an advocate for people who contribute to our society and world with their play and artistry. In my opinion art and culture (and thus the film industry as one of its expressions) are of outstanding significance to society, as are the people who have dedicated their careers and lives to creating and reinventing them. They reflect social debates, they provide friction surfaces for dealing with reality, they transcend everyday events. Art and culture are an expression of human existence.


Zetha Asafu-Adjaye and Elias Asbai, management assistant.

DISCOVER GERMANY: Why did you found ZTA Management? What did you want to achieve with the agency?

Zetha Asafu-Adjaye: Fortunately, voices on the subject of structural change are becoming stronger and more assertive in our industry. I believe the course for sustainable change can also be set in the way we deal with talent. As an agent, you are not only an administrator, but also an advocate and spokesperson for your clients’ needs and values. For actors the problem of loss of control is extremely large, as they are dependent on many different and often very subjective decision-making entities in their career. My agency concept strives to create a counterbalance by communication, transparency and creating access to our industry and to the decision-makers.

DISCOVER GERMANY: How would you describe your approach to talent management?

Zetha Asafu-Adjaye: I believe a more holistic approach in talent management is needed. At ZTA, this is reflected in the merging of the PR and drama management divisions under one agency roof. Through my many years of work as a publicist, I have come to realize that public relations requires a very close dialogue and contact with my clients. Through accessibility and transparent communication, we have thus built a strong level of trust, which is now translated in the acting agency work. You can’t represent talent and their interests properly without having a broad knowledge of their day-to-day experiences in life and on set.

DISCOVER GERMANY: What challenges and problems do you see in today’s film industry?

Zetha Asafu-Adjaye: Gatekeeping is a serious problem for each and everyone in our industry, this is why I would like to go into more detail about this phenomenon that refers to the practice of controlling and restricting access to certain areas or resources. In my experience major manifestations of restrictive access in the industry are the selective casting process, elite networks, and opaque decision-making structures. Understandably, people who’ve worked well together in the past will continue to do so in the future. However, this often leads to newcomers finding it difficult to gain access. New perspectives also bring new stories with them, and that is ultimately the goal.


DISCOVER GERMANY: How do you try to overcome this with your work?

Zetha Asafu-Adjaye: In order to provide access to projects to my clients and myself it is extremely important to maintain and expand my network and to actively engage, which creates fascinating synergies. This support has given me the confidence to take my place at their table. That’s why I just became a member of WIFT Germany and Medianet Berlin Brandenburg.

DISCOVER GERMANY: Let’s talk about diversity. In what way does this important factor play a role in your work at ZTA Management?

Zetha Asafu-Adjaye: My portfolio was not focused on diversity. It was a rather organic process that happened sort of naturally when I educated myself on issues like gender identity, equality and pay gaps, underrepresented talent, gatekeeping, inclusion and more. We strive for a realistic reflection of our society on our screens (and therefore in our management) by creating visibility and access for our talent to projects and decision-makers.

DISCOVER GERMANY: What advice would you give young actors today?

Zetha Asafu-Adjaye: Don’t let the fear of being rejected become the fear of not being good enough.


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