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About

About Us

Paonessa Talent Agency is a boutique agency representing a broad range of ethnicities, and is dedicated to seeking out, managing, and guiding the careers of actors on a national-level. PTA is fiercely dedicated to diversity and inclusion, and was the first agency in Chicago to open a trans/non-binary division. PTA prides itself on providing individual focus to its talent to ensure they have the tools and training necessary for ultimate success. Further, PTA is an inclusive company and strives to put the needs of its employees and clients first, while maintaining a professional and positive atmosphere. We are SAG/AFTRA and Equity franchised with a strong Non-Union division.

Paonessa Talent Agency, LLC works to meet our clients and casting directors needs nationally. 

Fun Fact: The word Paonessa derives from the Italian word for female peacock! 

Black Lives Matter

At Paonessa Talent Agency, LLC, we believe that racism has no place in this world. We are outraged and heartbroken by the continued unconscionable acts of police brutality against the black community, and we recognize these acts as part of the structure of the systemic racism that has plagued our country with violence, oppression, and hatred.

We are committed to being anti-racist and doing our part in dismantling white supremacy and anti-Blackness. As such, we will be actively seeking to take action that will strengthen our awareness and drive deliberate and meaningful change within the entertainment industry.

The first step in this journey will begin with our entire staff participating in bias training so that we can better examine our implicit biases and privilege. We believe that this training, and continued education, will help to strengthen our voices so that we may always speak up for justice and be the best allies possible for the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) we represent.

Some Places You Can Donate to Support the Black Lives Matter Movement and The Protests to End Police Brutality (This is not a comprehensive list, there are many fantastic groups working to further this cause):

Black Lives Matter
Chicago Community Bond Fund
Chicago Freedom School
Brave Space Alliance
NAACP
ACLU
Minnesota Freedom Fund
Black Visions Collective
Reclaim the BlockThe Freedom Fund, a bail fund for LGBTQIA+ individuals
National Bail Out Fund

Marisa Paonessa , President/Agent

Marisa Paonessa (she/her) is originally from Albany, New York and graduated with a BFA in Acting from State University of New York at Fredonia.  Marisa has worked in promotional advertising, as a casting associate and tour manager for Chicago theatre. After realizing her passion for helping actors, she interned at a talent agency and was soon hired on as an agent. Her former clients urged her to start her own agency, and in January 2010 she opened her own doors. Marisa believes in cultivating personal relationships, giving individual attention and helping guide her talents’ careers. 

Deven Hartley , Talent Agent

Deven (she/they) is pumped to be working for the Peacocks! After graduating from Northwestern University with a BA in Performance Studies, Deven served as a Casting Director for Two Birds Casting for many Chi-based AEA theatre companies. Deven is hugely influenced by the Chicago queer underground scene where they created for many years as a performance artist. She ultimately combined all of these skills coming on board at Paonessa Talent as a TV/film Agent, opening the city’s first trans*queer talent division. Deven then spent time in LA working as a talent consultant- advocating for representation of all voices in the mainstream narratives being told. Deven loves coaching and working with on-camera talent, and has a passion for connecting authentic talent to TV/film. Now based in Nashville, they continue to work to support unique folks to find cool opportunities that allow them to be them!

Madison Edgington , Talent Agent

Madison (she/her) is a Chicagoland native and mama to the most beautiful baby girl Islay. She trained at the DePaul Theatre School and later moved to Scotland to earn her masters at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She spent a few years in the UK working at The National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Madison brings her strong theatre background and expertise from working in both casting and talent representation. 

Vicky Collazo , Business Manager

Vicky Collazo (co-ya-so) (she/her) is our Business Manager.

Born and raised in Humboldt Park, Vicky comes to us with a theatre background working at Casa Central, a non-for-profit program that supports latinx children & youth to help them build a strong foundation. Previous employment has also included on the administrative side, Human Resources, case management and onboard services. Fluent in Spanish and 100% Puerto Rican, she is excited to bring more inclusion and diversity to Paonessa. She is a proud mother of 3 beautiful girls, Julissa, Alicia & Natalia. Love, peace and bendiciones!

Kandice Rose , Systems & Content Manager

Kandice Rose (she/her) grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and was introduced to theatre by her Grandmother Margaret. She participated in various shows growing up, which led her to take classes at Second City, the New York Film Academy, and serve as a Script Reader for the DTLA Film Festival. Kandice has an extensive background working in Diversity & Inclusion, including consulting, recruiting & education. She spent undergrad at Howard University and is a graduate of DePaul University with a Master’s in Critical Ethnic Studies, with a concentration in Media & Cinema Studies. Her thesis focused on the re-imagining of a Black Hermione Granger (Kandice is a huge Potterhead). She is beyond excited to integrate her passion for working in diversity & inclusion with Paonessa’s outstanding roster of talent. Fun fact, she has a twin named Krystal!

Mimi Paonessa , Queen of the Castle

Mimi (she/her) is a key member of the Paonessa Talent team! What she lacks in administrative skills, she makes up for in boosting team morale. Coming up on her fourth (human) year at Paonessa, Mimi prides herself on her can-do attitude and client communication skills. Her likes include back scratches, treats and playing with her younger brother, Luigi. Her dislikes include chocolate, thunderstorms, and being left alone. A hard worker that never gives up, she claims her life mantra as “Put one paw in front of the other”. 

Luigi Paonessa , Chief Director of Mischief Operations

Luigi (he/him) is Paonessa’s favorite rebel. Never one to listen to instruction, Luigi considers himself a self-starter. One (human) year old, Luigi is the youngest member of the Paonessa Talent team! He is known around the office for greeting every member with a toy. His likes include treats, playing catch, and belly rubs. His dislikes include black coffee, itchy sweaters, and being told what to do by his older sister, Mimi. Luigi’s five-year plan is to grow the Department of Mischief Operations large enough to hire an Assistant Director. He claims his life mantra to be “Live fast, have fun, bark often”.