Gina Balian

Armenian Women in Hollywood Are Movers and Shakers

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HOLLYWOOD (Hollywood Reporter) — Each year, The Hollywood reporter puts out an issue listing the 100 most important woman in the entertainment industry. These include (but are not limited to) actresses, musicians, talent representatives, heads of studios and networks, and many more. This year’s list features some of the most well-respected women in the business like Academy Award winning actresses Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence, influential powerhouse Oprah Winfrey, multi-platinum global musician Beyonce, and comedian and talk show host Ellen De Generis. This year, four Armenian names join the list: reality stars and business moguls The Kardashians, TV executives Gina Balian and Lisa Gregorian, and talent manager Aleen Keshishian.

Balian, 42, was instrumental in developing “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” the net’s most successful series, averaging 13.2 million viewers across multiple platforms and winning nine Emmys, including the limited series prize.

One habit that holds her back? “The news app on my iPad. I waste a lot of time reading random food sections of local newspapers when I should be reading a script,” Balian said.

Gregorian, 52, oversees global marketing for more than 75 scripted and unscripted series and played a key role in securing the off-network syndication deal for the Chuck Lorre comedy “Mom.”

Is there a glass ceiling? Gregorian: “I don’t think about it because I look forward, not up.”

“Keeping Up With the Kardashians” recently wrapped season 12, holding steady as E!’s highest-rated show. Despite recent events (Kim Kardashian was robbed in Paris in October, while her husband, Kanye West, was hospitalized on a psychiatric hold in November), the network insists that production is underway for another season. That’s good news for the family as their ancillary businesses explode from the already lucrative TV well. New this year: “Rob & Chyna” starring Rob Kardashian and fiancée Blac Chyna; the upcoming “Revenge Body” toplined by Khloe Kardashian.

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This year, when Keshishian, 48, left Brillstein Entertainment, where she’d been a longtime partner, to form her own company, Lighthouse Management & Media, a line of loyal clients followed along with her — Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, Jason Bateman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laura Linney, Orlando Bloom, Josh Gad, Skyler Samuels, Topher Grace, Billy Crudup, Justin Theroux, Emily Mortimer, Kathryn Hahn, Nina Dobrev, Miranda Kerr, writer/directors Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky, director Jesse Peretz, and Selena Gomez, who had a sold-out tour and a huge ad campaign for Coca-Cola.

What has been the hardest part about starting Lighthouse this past year? “Leaving friends at my old company. The rest was easier than I expected.”

The nature of the job has changed, she said. “My colleagues and I are working with leaders in Silicon Valley, Asia, digital media, the music industry, branding and licensing, as well as new distribution and financing entities. Most clients are multi-hyphenates who are musicians, writers, directors and producers as well as actors. As a talent representative, you can’t just be an expert in one field anymore.”

Her first female role model, she said, was “My mother, an Armenian immigrant who speaks five languages and can make the impossible happen.”

Keshishian  grew up in Boston and New Hampshire and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1990 with a B.A. in Fine Arts.  She got her start in the entertainment industry during AGBU’s Summer Internship Program.

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