Rising to the Top
“Well, the movie has to be pretty good if it’s going to have me leave my friends and my family behind to come out here…”
It was a movie, “Swingers,” to be exact, that inspired Yarosh to follow what was, at the time, a unique career path. He wanted to be a talent agent and was willing to start wherever he could. He began his career in the mailroom, but just one month shy of his 25th birthday, he achieved his dream.
His life imitated art as he moved into uncharted territory.
In “Swingers,” a New York transplant attempts to adjust to life in Los Angeles. The character, played by Jon Favreau, tries to move on to a new chapter personally and professionally and gets help from a buddy (Vince Vaughn). The movie launched the careers of both actors and its influence was a key turning point for Yarosh.
“I very much took a leap of faith,” Yarosh said. “I knew money was not as important to me as the idea of taking a chance and experiencing something completely different than anyone I’ve ever known. At that time, I left my family and my friends behind, and came out to Los Angeles knowing hardly anyone… and certainly no one who had made a similar leap before me.”
He remembers explaining the impact the movie had to the owner of the agency that gave him that job in the mailroom. The story inspired him. As did the real-life effort put in by Favreau and Vaughn to bring it to life.
“‘Well, the movie has to be pretty good if it’s going to have me leave my friends and my family behind to come out here…’” Yarosh recalled. “That movie absolutely created the careers of the men who starred in it.”
After three months in the mailroom, Yarosh was promoted to work for a junior agent. When the agency downsized, he found himself working for two senior agents. His next boss led him to a job at a competing agency.
“I was given a platform very early and seized the opportunity,” he said. “I knew our client list well, we had very few younger actors and I was able to sign many of our younger clients while simultaneously getting on ‘teams’ to service our more established actors. Working with the names gave me access to new relationships with casting directors, managers, producers and executives at the studios. Those relationships were valuable when making introductions to my younger client list.”
Yarosh had clients who were 15 to 20 years older than him. That suddenly made on-the-job training a way of life.
Math has always come easy to Yarosh, so he considered himself uniquely qualified for contracts and talks of salary and benefits. He prides himself on getting to the bottom of something very quickly.
“People who ask questions and want advice aren’t always looking to have solutions and they’re not always looking for answers,” Yarosh said, “They’re looking for someone that has the ability to assess and evaluate all possible outcomes from a decision.”
Yarosh said classes at Goizueta Business School prepared him to evaluate scenarios and monetize the sometimes “completely subjective things” in entertainment. He calls it “trendspotting” and uses it to identify the trajectory of an actor’s career. It goes far beyond his eye for talent. It speaks more to an ability to place talent in situations that represent what’s next in the business.
"I’ve negotiated some of the largest television deals in recent history, in addition to landing clients leads in studio feature film franchises."
“How you present ideas to other people is critical. You’re meeting people, a lot of people. You’re learning how to socialize with a lot of people. You’re learning how to work with a lot of people.
“I’ve negotiated some of the largest television deals in recent history, in addition to landing clients leads in studio feature film franchises. Whether it’s working with actors closing their first job in Hollywood on the way up, or people who are household names who need to be re-invented. Finding those people and matching those people up at various inflection points in their careers with good material is how unique deals are really made. It’s about making introductions and matching people up with other opportunities.”
Yarosh, who at the age of 28 was listed in the Hollywood Reporters’ “35 Under 35 Power List,” has been featured in numerous trade and business publications including Bloomberg. He is now head of talent and a partner at the oldest agency in Hollywood, The Gersh Agency.
Current Gersh clients include Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell, who recently won Oscars for their work in “I Tonya,” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” JK Simmons and Patricia Arquette, who won Oscars for their work in “Whiplash” and “Boyhood” along with Kristen Stewart of “Twilight,” and Adam Driver of “Star Wars.” A few of Yarosh’s current clients include Ed O’Neill of “Modern Family, Meg Ryan, Danny Glover, Parker Posey of “Lost in Space,” Paul Reiser, Charlie Heaton of “Stranger Things,” Miranda Cosgrove of “iCarly,” Stana Katic of “The Castle,” Taylor Kinney of “Chicago Fire,” Kate Walsh of “Private Practice” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” and Ashley Tisdale of “The High School Musical.”
Yarosh’s department was actively involved in re-boot’s of “Will & Grace” on NBC and “Roseanne” on ABC with clients Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, John Goodman and Sarah Gilbert.
Entering the next phase of his career, Yarosh is focused on the future of how movies, television and podcasts are delivered to audiences, particularly through subscription video and social media and the ever-changing landscape of content consumption.
It’s uncharted territory.
But Yarosh is used to that.
“The idea of monetizing subjective things, I think that’s very exciting,” he said. “I think it’s more challenging, frankly, than adding or subtracting numbers and coming to a solution. There’s something supremely exciting about evaluating things that have not been done before.”