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Women’s History Month: Celebrating Women In The Arts – Spotlight On Emily Owens

by Karen Tortora-Lee on March 21, 2011

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Women's History Month

These women of the arts hail from different disciplines, but they all have an indomitable spirit and a luminescent spark that makes them amazing human beings who are out there every day, doing amazing work.

Today we continue our series with Emily Owens. Without exaggeration I can say that Emily paved the way for making The Happiest Medium what it is today.  Way back in 2008 when I was a fledgling reviewer and still trying to figure out how to fill a weekly column quota (for another site) publicist Emily Owens contacted me about some shows she was representing.  I was new to it all and eagerly accepted every show that she sent my way.  ”Just you wait,” my husband (and the co-founder of The Happiest Medium) said, “One day you’ll be getting so many offers from so many publicists that you’ll be turning them away!”   I couldn’t imagine what that would feel like.

Well, here we are, two and a half years later and I’m proud to say that Emily Owens and I continue to enjoy a very successful business relationship to this very day.   And, Stephen was right – these days THM gets so many offers to review shows that we have to be very choosy with what we follow up on.   I’m grateful … but overworked and overwhelmed at times by the amount of shows that are happening in Manhattan.  Having a relationship with a someone like Emily —  a publicist I can trust – ensures that The Happiest Medium is always covering the best, newest, and greatest of what’s out there. Emily has been critical in getting me together with some of my very favorite people in this industry, and – I’ll say it again – I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t begun reviewing shows repped by Emily Owens.  Most recently, as the publicist for the Frigid New York Festival 2011, she made it possible for The Happiest Medium to become a Media Sponsor and the relationships we were able to build during that festival were invaluable.  Never mind just plain fun!

I’m in awe of her energy, her intuition and her connections.  And I thank her from the bottom of my heart for what she does not only for me, but for all the talented people who count on her to publicise them the right way, every day.  Now let’s hear her story  …

Emily Owens

Talk to me about being a woman who does what you do- just overall.

When you own your own business the business IS you, so everything I do or say reflects on my company in one way or another. From the clothes I wear to what I post on my Facebook status, it all affects how people perceive my company. To that end I’m sure the fact that I’m a woman does play a factor, but its not something I think about as it relates to my job. When I first started out I was more concerned about my age, as I started my company fairly young (I’m 25 now and Emily Owens PR was founded in 2006, you do the math!) I felt for a long time like I had to keep my age a secret, for fear that people wouldn’t take me seriously.

The favorite part of my job is seeing my clients succeed. I know that probably sounds cheesy but its true! The reason I do what I do is to get artists and their work exposure that they otherwise might not get without me. There is so much amazing work going on downtown that people don’t necessarily know about, and I love helping to get that work the acknowledgement it deserves.

Tells us about some of the barriers you’ve encountered.

I knew pretty early on that indie theatre was where I wanted to be, but I ran into a lot of attitude against it. The feedback I received was that press wouldn’t cover off-off Broadway shows and that I’d never be able to make a living at it.

Its still difficult to get the larger media outlets to cover shows being produced off-off Broadway and there are still people I run into from time to time who honestly have no idea what independent theatre is, but I’m much more fulfilled pounding the pavement everyday trying to get my “unknown” clients exposure then I would be if I was working for some big Broadway press agent publicizing “Die Hard: The Musical!” starring Johnny Depp.

The men that you come across / work with / interact with – do they treat you as an equal?

I’m sure my male counterparts are never referred to as the “PR girl” but I’ve always kind of liked being the PR girl! I never want to be treated differently because I’m a woman. In some cases I think people are more likely to hire me because I’m a woman (as opposed to NOT hiring me because of it) but I think that’s almost just as bad. You should hire somebody because they’re the best person for the job, not because of their gender, skin color, or sexual orientation. We’re never really going to be equals until our differences stop being a factor entirely.

You’re so busy!  What are some of your upcoming projects?

Emily Owens is a press agent for independent theatre. Her clients include Horse Trade Theater Group, terraNOVA Collective, Flux Theatre Ensemble, Nosedive Productions, The Brick, Rachel Klein Productions, and Purple Rep. Visit her site Emily Owens PR.

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