Howard Magazine - Page 23 - Mother Agent

Howard Magazine
- Page 23
Mother Agent
For Columbia’s boutique talent agency, business is like family

By Patti Restivo

For Howard Magazine

Kevin Tan says it only took a year before he started calling Gisele “Gigi” Soto his godmother.

The 32-year-old actor and model has been represented by Soto’s talent agency since 2005, when he took a print job with the Marriott Courtyard Hotel. Since then, he’s appeared in more than half a dozen indie films and several TV shows — thanks in no small part to Soto.

“Gigi is a very loving person, she knows the business inside out, and she’s always there when I need her,” he says.

Tan — whose family immigrated to Columbia from Taiwan when he was 11 — is one of roughly 150 actors and models under the wing of Cima Talent Management, a boutique agency Soto has been quietly operating from Howard County for nearly 20 years.

Known as a “mother agent” — the middleperson who promotes and protects her talent’s interests with larger agencies — Soto, 56, has developed a solid reputation for finding beautiful faces and nurturing a familial relationship with the people she represents.

“Gigi’s my ‘momager,’ ” says model Courtney Hejl, a former Miss Maryland Teen USA who, at 32, has been with Cima half her life. “We consider ourselves actual family now; we even got puppies from the same litter.”

Soto moved to Columbia with her own family (in the literal sense, her husband, Israel, and daughter, Tatiana) in 2000. Before that, she’d been working as a manager in the music industry representing a single artist.

She says acting and modeling is a more realistic calling than the music industry because “if you understand the business, there’s a lot of local work that can be done.”