Producers/Managers Jen Namoff & Geoffrey Soffer have teamed up to create Soffer/Namoff Entertainment. A Management and Production company representing some of the most exciting actors of this generation.
Prior to Soffer/Namoff Entertainment, Jen started in casting at offices such as the Roundabout Theatre & Judy Henderson Casting. Jen also worked in the agency world at Leading Artists. Jen is a Tony nominated producer for “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” starring Daniel Radcliffe, Darren Criss, and currently Nick Jonas.” She is also developing “Carrie” at MCC. Prior to Soffer/Namoff Geoffrey was a casting executive at ABC and the casting director for the hit show “Ugly Betty”. He is currently working on his debut film “He’s Way More Famous Than You” directed by Michael Urie.
Jen and Geoff were kind enough to sit down with us and discuss how they got where they are, what they love, what they hate and what they hope for the future.
(Last week was the first half of this interview. If you haven’t read it already, check it out before going on to this part. Read here!)
We’re picking back up where we left off with Jen, get ready for Geoff Soffer to give his input!
BroadwaySpotted: How do you see the Broadway and New York City theatre scene in general moving? Do you like the way it’s going or would you like to see some changes?
Jen Namoff: I think we’re in a really interesting position with star casting. It’s something that always comes up. Ultimately it depends on the show. How to Succeed was meant to be a star vehicle. There was no other way. If you’re going to do a revival you have to do something totally original or have a huge star in it. That’s just the way it is; you have no choice. When you’re doing an original new musical, or something like Mormon which can speak for itself…hopefully it will get to the point where we don’t need stars to sell tickets, they’ll just be an exciting element to the cast.
BS: Well, some of them—Daniel for example—surprised everyone with his dancing and singing. Obviously people knew Darren Criss and Nick Jonas could sing, because that’s what they do. They’re musicians, but Daniel is not. So, that was surprising and wonderful for everyone. The theatre community in general was so excited to see how hands on he was with us! It was endearing.
JN: He’s wonderful. He spent a year working and studying for the role.
BS: And the fact that he never called out! Not once?
JN: He did 300 plus performances.
BS: That’s amazing. Would you consider producing a play or are you strictly into musicals?
JN: No, I’ll work on anything that speaks to me. I’m actually working on a film right now. I was investing on it and I ended up getting a producer credit. It’s in the works right now, very exciting feature film.
BS: Is your goal to be the general partner in the long run?
JN: Absolutely. It’ll happen eventually and it’s really about the projects. Because I’m a full time manager right now I couldn’t have seven projects.
BS: Do you have one you love more than the other?
JN: No, I think they go hand-in-hand. To be a producer the management side is so important. The conversations they have in the room, I know what’s going on and who they’re talking about first hand. Likewise, my knowledge of the producing world helps me as a manager.
BS: Alright so, more questions from the fans. How do you feel about unsolicited submissions? Good, bad, terrible?
JN: It depends. There isn’t enough time in the day to read every one. But occasionally, I’ve had a slow day, open something up and think perhaps we should take a meeting. There is no way to really gauge that. That said, the best way to break in is to be involved. Read playbill everyday; know who is working on what, use youtube for the better not the worst. Take One-on-One, meet people you want to work with.
BS: Another fan question: How is it best for someone not living in New York City to break into the community?
JN: You have to come to the city obviously. Get to know everyone. Meet people! If you want to be a director be a PA (production assistant) on a show. If you want to be in casting—intern! Look up and talk to people who are the leading players.
BS: In other industries right now there is a trend of people getting popular on say—youtube—and they get signed because of how many hits they have; do you think people in our industry hear about people who have gotten a serious following and pay attention to them?
JN: We’re always looking for the next big thing. It’s all about word of mouth. That’s how you can use social media for the best.
BS: The Broadway community is tiny. So, how much does a person’s reputation play into whether you say, yes let’s put them in one or our shows, or let’s sign them? You decision making in general.
JN: That’s a Geoff Soffer question. (She calls her partner from the other room.)
BS: Do you really talk about that kind of situation together?
Geoff Soffer: For me it’s as important as their talent. It’s someone we’re going to be involved with on a daily basis. We play a very intimate role in their lives and vice versa. It’s very important that our personalities are compatible. We always say, not every actor is for us and we’re not for every actor.
JN: With producing there are people that are such a dream to work with and it’s known. Everyone wants to work with them. It’s very easy to develop a reputation. It doesn’t always stop you from getting a job. You might be so brilliant that’s it. But it’s always good to be honest and polite.
Geoff Soffer: It’s always better to be nice, especially when you’re starting out. When you’re a huge star people are a little more forgiving because you have name value, or you’re “a product.” But when you’re earlier in your career there is always going to be someone else.
JN: It’s a very small business. You might do something to someone and five years later your dream role is being done and that person is working on it. People are really sensitive in this business.
Geoff Soffer: When I was a casting director, the term we used was, “I’m not going there.” If it was an actor who came late, skipped audition, anything like that, we tried to see everyone else first. In theatre you become a family, this is a group you’re going to be working with for a year. You’re not going to put someone toxic into that group. And! There are known stage actors out there who are ridiculously talented who never get to the level their talent speaks to just because of their reputation.
BS: This is a question we get from everyone for every interview: How do you stand out when there are so many talented people? What makes someone a star?
JN: I can’t pin point it in words. If I could, I’d be the richest manager in the world. There is a spark I see in an actor and all my people have it. The stage or camera lights up when they’re on it and you can’t take their eyes off them. They’re owning the stage and owning the text. There are plenty of people on Broadway who don’t do that. They just go through the motions. I want someone who can not only get a job, but also take it to a different level.
BS: That’s actually one of my biggest pet peeves. I don’t want to go to a show and see someone who isn’t enjoying themselves. I want someone who looks like they’re having the best day of their life. Your only job is to entertain us; you better do a good job. So, speaking of pet peeves, what are your biggest pet peeves in the industry?
Geoff Soffer: There are more pet peeves as a manager because we’re working so closely with actors and when they’re not working to their full potential or they take a backseat approach to their career. Whether it’s getting new headshots or not preparing for auditions—whatever.
BS: Have you ever dropped someone? What does it take?
JN: Sometimes the road has just ended and we can’t do any more with you. It’s not always a big dramatic thing. I think personalities can be a bad match, too. There is an appropriate manager for everyone. Just because someone is a brilliant actor doesn’t mean I’m the right manager for them.
BS: Obviously as working professionals in our industry you have to maintain a business reputation, so if someone were to taint your image and what you’re trying to build as your brand does that come in to play?
Geoff Soffer: Absolutely! My reputation has to be more important than each individual actor or you lose your place in the industry. That’s why people flock to us. We have talented actors and we’re easy to work with.
JN: Someone once said to me you are who you represent in this industry. And it’s true.
Geoff Soffer: People love our clients, too. They’re not just talented. They’re easy to work with, down to Earth.
BS: Moment of truth: Favorite show of all time?
BS: Can be a play. Or one of each.
JN: I think it would have to be Into the Woods as far as musicals. I think every lyric in that musical applies to life. I’m also going to admit that I love Miss Saigon. I love that score.
BS: I love Miss Saigon. Are you excited for Into the Woods this summer?
JN: I think it’s going to be amazing in the park.
BS: Do you work with new playwrights? What’s the best way for them to get their stuff seen, from your producing perspective?
JN: Do showcases and readings. If you’re a composer show your work. I haven’t seen many new inventive writers. Where are the creative people? If you’re that new writer who is going to write the next Parade get it out there. Use youtube.
BS: Last question: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Geoff Soffer: Tired. In Hawaii.
JN: Producing Broadway and film! With our clients. We want to do all aspects of the business, really hands on in all areas.
BS: More revivals or new productions?
JN: I don’t want to limit myself. I’d love to do a new play. For me it’s learning in all areas. But by then we should at least have ten Tonys. I won’t sleep unless we have that.
Geoff Soffer: There are people we look to who are our mentors. We’ve been surrounded by some amazing producers who have led us and I feel as though we can be those kind of producers for our generation. I feel totally comfortable with that. This is the time to be hustling and proving yourself so in ten or twenty years you emerge as a leader in the industry.
JN: For me, I love what I do. I love coming to this office and collaborating with Geoff. I wake up in the morning and genuinely get excited to think about what I can do to move someone’s career forward. The day I don’t love it, it’s over. I don’t want to be cliché, but life is too short.