Julie McDonald (agent)

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Julie McDonald
Born 1954 (age 62–63)
Residence Los Angeles, California
Occupation Talent agent
Years active 1985 - Present
Employer McDonald Selznick Associates
(owner & co-founder)
Known for Being the first dance agent
Home town Seattle, Washington[1]

Julie McDonald (born 1954) is a talent agent and co-founder of McDonald Selznick Associates (MSA), an agency headquartered in Hollywood, California, that represents dancers, choreographers, stage directors, and production designers. She is best known for being the first dance agent i.e. the first talent agent to offer commercial representation for dancers.


In the 1980s, McDonald worked as a ballet and modern dancer and owned a dance studio in Venice, California, called Room to Move.[1] Due to a knee injury while shooting a television commercial, she was forced to end her dance career early,[2] but she still had a desire to work in entertainment. In 1985, after taking a three-week entertainment business course, she took a position as an agent at Joseph, Heldfond & Rix (JHR) agency. At the time, JHR only represented actors.[2] McDonald became the first dance agent by creating the first agency department dedicated exclusively to dancer representation.[1][2][3][4][5] At the time, representation for back-up dancers did not exist[6] and they were commonly classified as "extras".[7] At the first agency audition she held, 300 dancers showed up;[1] one of her first clients was Paula Abdul.[2]

While at JHR, McDonald worked to improve working conditions for dancers and secure overtime and hazard pay. In 1990, she founded the Dancers' Alliance to establish minimum rates for work.[8][9] In 2000, she left JHR (which is now called Kazarian/Spencer Associates) and founded McDonald Selznick Associates with business partner Tony Selznick.[1] She took her entire client roster of choreographers with her including Darrin Henson, Nadine "Hi Hat" Ruffin, Kenny Ortega, Marguerite Derricks, Travis Payne, Jerry Mitchell, and Wade Robson.[10]

In addition to running MSA, McDonald is on the advisory council of Dance Camera West film festival.[11] In 2011, she was an associate producer for the dance documentary MOVE.[12] In 2012, she produced the Emmy's live webcast and panel discussion "The Choreographers...Yesterday Today and Tomorrow".[13]


In 2010, McDonald was honored at The Carnival: Choreographer’s Ball "for being a pioneer of dance representation."[14] Her award was presented to her by Paula Abdul, Tony Selznick, and Robin Antin.[14]

In 2011, she won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 14th Annual Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival.[7][15] In 2013, she was an honoree at Tremaine Dance Convention's National Gala[16] and she won another Lifetime Achievement Award, from the The Industry Voice, for her work with Dancers' Alliance.[17]

In 2014, World of Dance presented her and her business partner Tony Selznick with the Decade of Dance award.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e Sagolla, Lisa (September 30, 2009). "A Pioneer in Representing Dancers". VNueMedia.com. Retrieved August 24, 2011. A true pioneer in the field of representing dancers, McDonald started by working for JHR (which then became KSA), a big commercial agency in Los Angeles. 'I went there in 1985 and formed the first department ever to represent dancers,' she says. 'I began by putting a very small ad in Variety saying 'Dancers Wanted for Representation.' I got some of my friends from my old dance studio to hold an audition, and 300 people showed up. There was clearly a great interest and a great need.' 
  2. ^ a b c d Maloney, Kathleen (November 8, 1992). "THE BIZ : Making the World Safe for Choreography". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 24, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  3. ^ Delegall, Jewel. "Dance and Choreography: Making an Impact". CampusCircle.com. Archived from the original on August 24, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  4. ^ Towers, Deirdre. "Spotlight on ground-breaking dance agent Julie McDonald". DanceFilms.org. Retrieved August 24, 2011. The growth of opportunity for the above dancers and so many more over the last 2 decades can be traced to pioneering choreographer/dancer agent Julie McDonald. When her own career as a dancer was cut short by injury, Julie broke new ground by becoming the first talent agent to exclusively represent dancers and choreographers. 
  5. ^ Wolf, Sara (February 2005). "Landing a gig in L.A.: insider advise from pro dancers, choreographers, and agents at Grover Dale's career power workshop on how to stand out". FindArticles.com. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Julie McDonald: Choreographer Part 1". MasterTalentTeachers.com. February 21, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2012. Through research and hard work she dedicated herself to dance and decided to become an agent for dancers because they needed representation and a voice in the industry. Prior to this, that simply did not exist. The first Dance Agent! 
  7. ^ a b Levine, Debra (November 15, 2011). "Hollywood Dance Super-Agent, Julie McDonald, honored at Palm Desert's 'Dance Under the Stars' Choreography Festival". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on June 9, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2012. Julie McDonald was honored last weekend with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 14th Annual "Dance Under The Stars" Choreography festival presented the McCallum Theatre Institute, the Education Division of the McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts... She then launched as an agent, quickly learning how undervalued and even exploited dancers were in Hollywood. In fact, dancers were regularly categorized as 'extras.' As McDonald put it diplomatically Saturday night, 'Nothing against extras, but ... dancers have craft.' 
  8. ^ Wheelock, Julie (August 24, 1991). "She Fights for the Rights of Dancers". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 24, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  9. ^ Perry, Aliya (April 3, 2011). "What is Dancer's Alliance? Intense interview with co-chair, Galen Hooks and board member, Dana Wilson". TheIndustryVoiceOnline.com. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  10. ^ Feiwell, Jill (2000). "Agents choreograph own firm". The Daily Variety. 269 (12): 11. Choreography agents Julie McDonald and Tony Selznick have ankled Kazarian/Spencer Associates, taking with them their entire client roster and agents Aria Dietz-Baim and Anic Dizon, to launch their own shingle, McDonald/Selznick Associates. 
  11. ^ "About". DanceCameraWest.org. Retrieved September 11, 2011. 
  12. ^ "MOVE Film Crew". SoderlingProductions.com. Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  13. ^ "The Choreographers...Yesterday Today and Tomorrow". Emmys.com. Retrieved November 2, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Carnival Choreographer's Ball 11th Anniversary". DanceBloggers.com. February 1, 2010. Retrieved September 13, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival". McCallumTheatre.com. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Julie McDonald - 2013 National Gala Honoree!". TremaineDance.com. Archived from the original on December 8, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Congratulations to 2013 TIV Awards Winners". TheIndustryVoiceOnline.com. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved September 6, 2013. 
  18. ^ "2014 World of Dance Industry Awards Nominees". WorldofDance.com. Archived from the original on January 20, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 

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