When David Kramer landed his first full-time job, two years after graduating from UGA and fresh out of film school at the University of Southern California, he started at the bottom.
The very bottom. As in the mail room in the basement of United Talent Agency (UTA). That was 1992.
More than 30 years later, he’s still at UTA. But his view is much nicer.
In September, Kramer ABJ ’90 was promoted to president of Beverly Hills-based UTA, which is now one of the largest talent agencies in the world. It is just the most recent highlight in a career that has seen Kramer become an accomplished agent and business builder who stakes a place among the most connected and powerful figures in the entertainment industry.
“When I started at UTA, our client list sat on one page,” Kramer says. “And we had some white space on that page,” Kramer says.
In those early days, clearly there wasn’t a whole lot of mail to deliver. But working at what was then an upstart agency gave him access and an unfettered opportunity to learn the business. He attended meetings, worked as an assistant, and eventually began representing talent.
“A lot of it is just working really hard, and believing in the mission of representing artists. If you do that with all your heart and you pour yourself into it, good things will happen.”
While Kramer today oversees a large swath of UTA, which has grown to nearly 2000 employees stretching from LA to London, he continues to represent some of those early clients and sign new ones. And UTA’s client roster now encompasses film and TV stars, directors, series creators and much more. It has branched out into such areas as sports, music, publishing, digital and representing brands.
Unlike many others in the entertainment business, he can’t point to one big break that led to his success. He speaks instead to the importance of a good work ethic.
In Kramer’s case, that work ethic is shaded with an approachability and affability that is easy for anyone to see.
“A lot of it is just working really hard, and believing in the mission of representing artists,” he says. “If you do that with all your heart and you pour yourself into it, good things will happen.”
Kramer actually got his first taste of the entertainment business while a student in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He interned with the Georgia Film Commission in between his junior and senior years and worked as a production assistant on a TV movie called Murder in Mississippi. It was the only production in Atlanta at the time, and it was a successful one, earning three Emmy nominations and winning one.
As an intern he did a little bit of everything.
“I opened the office, I closed the office, I worked on the set, I picked up people from the airport,” he recalls. “I quickly decided that I wanted to be in the movie business.” Graduate school at USC followed, and Kramer never looked back.
Well, actually, he looks back a little.
Kramer balances his time with philanthropic work through the UTA Foundation, and membership on boards—such as Project Angel Food, which provides and brings meals to people with serious illnesses. He also serves on the board of UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center and UGA’s own Peabody Awards, just one way he keeps his ties to Georgia. He visits campus whenever he comes back east, hosts student groups out west, and even delivered Grady’s convocation via iPhone in 2020.
“UGA students today are so much more sophisticated and informed than my friends and I were,” Kramer says. “I was a young person who drove out to LA hoping I could figure out my future, and I was fortunate enough to do that. Ultimately, everyone has to go down their own path, but helping young people try to fulfill their own dreams about working in the industry is something I enjoy.”