More Than Talent

USC Gould School of Law • March 2, 2016
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Father and son duo share insights into working in Hollywood and the art world

-By Anne Bergman

USC Gould students recently got the inside scoop on what it’s like to work in the entertainment industry and the fine arts world from Steven Roth, one of the original founding partners of Hollywood talent firm Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and his son Joshua Roth, a lawyer-turned-agent at the United Talent Agency. Prof. Jonathan Barnett, director of the law school's Media, Entertainment and Technology Law Program, led the discussion.

While both men have led varied careers, they agreed that an entrepreneurial spirit is key to success.

Prof. Jonathan Barnett, director of the law school's Media, Entertainment and Technology Law Program, led the discussion with Steven and Joshua Roth.

Steven Roth shared stories from his days as an agent in the 1970s, when he said he took “literary projects and matched them with the greatest directors” before he made the leap to co-found CAA, now a leading entertainment agency. Roth currently serves as co-CEO of the family-run World Oil Corp. 

Joshua Roth now heads a relatively new division of the United Talent Agency, UTA Fine Arts. Previously Roth headed the art-law department at the L.A. firm Glaser Weil after launching his legal career as a corporate attorney with Paul Hastings.

He got a taste of art law when an acquaintance who owned an art gallery sought his assistance with a contract. “I ended up immersing myself for eight years, serving for free as a legal adviser,” he recalled. Eventually, I was able to get some success and notoriety because there are very few art lawyers in L.A.”

“You have to do what you really love,” said Steven Roth, who sits on the boards of LACMA and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. He noted that “even as a little kid Joshua was a great collector of art books.” 

In early 2015, Roth joined UTA. “I have a job that 10 or 12 years ago, I would never have guessed I’d have. I help my clients access opportunities and source the best deals,” he said. “We try to represent clients that we think we can build businesses around, identifying the best up and coming talent.”

Steven Roth noted that son Joshua has found opportunities for his artists with real estate developers who are incorporating art spaces into their new buildings. “Now they are filled with artists that Josh represents,” he said.

Joshua Roth attributed his success in a new field to his “finding the right environment in which to do business” and to thinking entrepreneurially. “You need to treat your work like it’s your own business,” he advised. “You have to have a work ethic and a desire to learn.”

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