Boss Lady: Nikki Weiss-Goldstein

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week, we’re so excited to chat with Nikki Weiss-Goldstein, the founder of Nikki Weiss & Co, who represents the film industry’s leading directors in both the commercial and feature world. Nikki discusses overcoming personal and career obstacles to find success in the industry she loves.

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1. Tell us a little about yourself and your career.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, I consider Los Angles home. I’m the founder of Nikki Weiss & Co, a firm I started in 1994 at age 21. I represent leading directors in the commercial, music video, episodic and feature world to advertising agencies. I’ve successfully launched the commercial careers of renowned film directors and still photographers.

I’m most proud of an Expedia campaign in which I participated entitled Find Your Understanding. It tells the story of of my father-in-law’s acceptance of my marriage to his daughter. The film won numerous awards and was honored by TED as one of the Ten Best Ads of The Year.

My reach in the entertainment business goes beyond the advertising world. I’ve been a consultant on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, I received a GLAAD award for my appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show and my wife Jill and I starred in Showtime’s The Real L Word, using that platform to help in the fight for marriage equality. However, my greatest production to date is our son Adler. Baby boy number two is due to arrive in December.

A breast cancer survivor, I am an inaugural board member of The Pink Lotus Foundation, the only non profit organization of its kind that offers free screenings, surgery, chemotherapy, reconstruction and follow up care for any underinsured, underprivileged woman diagnosed with breast cancer.

2. After living and working in three majors cities across the US, what has the transition been like coming from Philly?
I left Philadelphia when I was 20, right after college, so I only grew up there. I do have fond childhood memories. I moved to Chicago after school, which was very similar to Philly; a hustle and bustle city, just colder! Because my career took me back and forth to Los Angeles, I eventually relocated. I’m a California girl at heart so living and working here most of my adult life has been wonderful. I definitely do appreciate the weather a bit more having grown up on the east coast and having lived in the Windy City,

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3. What inspired your passion to be apart of the filmmaking industry?
I was a theater major in college, but realized very early on that I didn’t want to struggle to try to “make it.” I knew that I wanted to be involved in the entertainment business in some way and honestly I was lucky enough to land my first job as an assistant to a director’s agent. That job made me appreciate the filmmaking process and the director’s craft. It was inspiring. [pullquote]I can truly say that after 22 years in this business I am still passionate about my career.[/pullquote]

4. When did you know it was time to start Nikki Weiss & Co.?
I was so young when I started my company. At the time I really had nothing to lose and I was too naive to think I’d fail. I knew it was time to hang my own shingle when I started booking really big jobs for my roster of directors and making my boss a lot of money. I thought, I could do this for myself, but I must leave his firm with just as good if not better talent and try to make a name for myself. Wanting to stand out, I took on renown still photographer Albert Watson and helped cross him over from print to film. I signed composer Hans Zimmer and launched his commercial music company, Cyberia. I took on “A” list feature filmmakers and crossed them over into the ad world. I became known for representing this type of talent and that’s how I successfully launched my firm.

5. Describe a typical day.
My day usually starts at 6:00 am because I’m dealing with East and Midwest time zones. I physically get into my office around 9:00 am where I answer a ton of emails and phone calls, or maybe I’ll have a morning meeting with a director in my office.

I’m the liaison between my roster of directors and Midwest ad agencies so I’m constantly speaking with agency producers and creatives about their upcoming round of commercial production and their director needs. Once they send me approved storyboards to review, I custom build reels of the director’s work in a clickable emailed link and submit my top contenders for consideration on their campaign.

When my director is engaged in the bidding process on a commercial project, it means conference calls with the ad agency producer, creatives and my director and Executive Producer. I review my director’s treatment and make suggestions if need be before it is presented back to the agency. And then you cross your fingers for an awarded production as they are usually bidding two other competitors.

On production days you can usually find me on my client’s set.

6. Do you have a personal favorite aspect or part of the production process? [pullquote]To be candid, I faked it a little until I made it.[/pullquote]
To me, the magic happens in the editing room. I do enjoy watching a story come together in an edit. But I also like casting and wardrobe, set design and art direction. It’s a good thing I do what I do because I love the entire process so much.

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7. In the collaboration of your dreams, who would it be with and why?
I would love to work on more projects with strong female directors. Angelina Jolie inspires me for different reasons; her brave health choices, being a writer/director/producer/actress and wearing all of those hats so well. There’s a specific film project in which I’m fortunate enough to be involved with actor/director Justin Baldoni that I hope sees the light of day; a true story that I think Angelina Jolie would really respond to… If she would adapt it to a screenplay and direct it, it would be my ultimate dream. I just need to get it to her first.

8. How has social media impacted your career?
[pullquote]Social Media is one of the most powerful tools of the trade. It’s the quickest way to get new talent seen, new campaigns and content viewed. [/pullquote]A commercial campaign can receive millions of hits which is an an amazing way to track a brands success. The impact that it’s had on my career is in the vast audience I can now reach in a matter of seconds.

9. Are there any boss ladies you look up to?
I greatly admire the empires that Arianna Huffington and Oprah Winfrey have each created. I also admire women who have had success and longevity in the entertainment industry like Sheila Nevins at HBO, power agent Beth Swofford at CAA, Danielle Gelber Executive Producer at Dick Wolf Films. Of course my director list includes Angelina Jolie, Debbie Allen, Kathryn Bigelow, Jill Soloway.

10. Do you have any advice for women looking to start their own business?
To be successful you’re going to have to live and breathe your work, so love what you do!

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More on Nikki Weiss-Goldstein:

Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Images courtesy of Spencer Skelly

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10 Things We’re Loving In March

March Mood Board

1. March is Women’s History Month and on March 8th thousands of events are held throughout the world to celebrate women‘s achievements and inspire the world for the International Women’s Day, check out #MakeItHappen and #ListenLearnLead.

2. Celebrate March 17th for St. Patrick’s Day with fun and delicious cocktails like the Irish Castaway.

3. Ring in the first day of spring with a gorgeous new terrarium from Terrain.

4. Beginning March 27th, Kate Winslet stars in a french historical period piece called  A Little Chaos. The trailer looks beautiful as Kate plays a freethinker gardener at Louis XIV’s Versailles.

5. Take the opportunity to stash digital devices to stop and smell the roses on March 6th and 7th for National Day of Unplugging.

6. Starting March 20th, watch cuties Shailene Woodley and Theo James in Insurgent, the second installment of dystopian trilogy Divergent.

7. Don’t forget to turn all clocks ahead one hour on March 8th. We may lose an hour but at least the days will be longer and soon the weather will be warmer!

8. Warmer weather is right around the corner and so should a new pair of sunglasses. We’re lusting after J Crew‘s updated version of the aviator.

9. Make the mornings easier and perfect the beach hair look with Rockaway’s Salt Spray.

10. The fashionable and fabulous Sarah Jessica Parker turns 50 on March 25th. Have you seen her new shoe collection?

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Holiday Must-Haves

This week  I decided it was time to get into the Christmas spirit! This month has been so busy, there hasn’t been time to do anything except decorate (which I did the week after Thanksgiving!)

I gave my beauty regimen some festivity by breaking out the red lipstick for girl’s night out and choosing a fun green polish for my manicure. This week my mom and I started our cookie-making tradition (choc chip, oatmeal choc chip, sugar), followed by our new tradition; champagne cocktails after baking. Finally and most importantly, I watched two Christmas movies; Love Actually (a favorite) and The Fitzgerald’s Family Christmas. If you haven’t seen the latter, Netflix (or Red Box) it! Edward Burns is amazing.

holiday must-haves

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Fashion in Film

A few years ago I read a biography on one of my favorite fashionistas; Edith Head. For those who don’t know, Edith Head was probably the most famous movie costume designer….ever. Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and every other Hollywood icon from the 50’s and 60’s was dressed by Edith.

The thing that’s so phenomenal about fashion on film is the way the clothes are symbolic or take on their own character. Think about The Devil Wears Prada; when as Anne Hathaway’s character’s style evolved, her life dissolved. In Sex and the City Carrie’s name-plate necklace or her shoes and Miranda’s “skinny jeans,” all played pivotal pieces in their given episodes.

Take a peek at some of my favorite fashion on film.

fashion in film

Doris Day in Pillow Talk – behind the scenes of a classic 60’s woman.

Kiera Knightly in Antonement – that emerald green, back-less silk dress is to die for.

Kate Hudson in Almost Famous – she emulates bohemian style.

Sarah Michelle Gellar in Simply Irresistable – love the mismatched pink and vintage floral dress.

Grace Kelly in Rear Window – no one has or ever will wear a dress the way she did.

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