Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Founding Partner, Principato-Young Entertainment
Favorite Professor: Sal Primeggia and Jerry Fishman.
Involvement at Adelphi: Member of the Orientation Program, Student Activities Board, two-term President of the Student Political Association, and Tau Kappa Epsilon; Junior and Senior Class Vice President.
Fondest Adelphi Memory: Speaking at the 1987 Commencement Ceremony.
Advice for Adelphi Students: Remember, every meeting is an opportunity for others to see your personality. Utilize relationships and self-generate opportunities. Put things out there, constantly be creating. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you.
Peter Principato has always had an eye for talent. As a member of the Student Activities Board at Adelphi, he played an integral role in putting together the University’s annual talent show. Today, Mr. Principato is the founding partner of Principato-Young Entertainment, one of the top five talent management companies in the United States.
Mr. Principato represents many of today’s top emerging artists in comedy, including Jonah Hill, Will Arnett, Ed Helms, Rob Corddry, Tom Lennon, Cheryl Hines and Rob Riggle, as well as the writers and directors of movies such as Role Models, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, The Break Up, and the Harold and Kumarmovies. In addition, Mr. Principato is the co-executive producer of Comedy Central’s Reno 911!
After graduating from Adelphi in 1987, he held two positions in public relations before realizing that he wanted to get into the entertainment industry. He returned to the Swirbul Library to research production companies, movie and television production studios, and talent agencies. “At that point, I didn’t even know what a talent agency did,” recalls Mr. Principato. After sending out 110 resumes in the entertainment industry, he got 107 rejections; ironically, the three companies offering him interviews were talent agencies.
Mr. Principato’s career in the entertainment industry began in 1988, when he was hired at the talent and literary agency, Abrams Artists Agency. A year later, he joined the William Morris Agency, working as an assistant directly for an agent. Within two years, Mr. Principato was promoted to talent agent in the commercial department. At 24 years old, he was the youngest person to hold this position in the company.
“Not unlike my time at Adelphi, within the entertainment industry, I was interested in all areas,” says Mr. Principato, who found himself gravitating toward the role of talent manager rather than talent agent. ”Talent agents take clients and place them in jobs,” he explains. “While talent and literary agents focus in on a specific area of expertise, managers guide their clients through all the things they want to do, looking at all aspects of the clients’ career.”
“A manager is more of a business partner to who he represents,” says Mr. Principato. ”I realized that for what I was doing, where I was heading, and how hands-on I was with my clients, I was a talent manager.”
In 1997, Mr. Principato partnered with Lorne Michaels (the creator of Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Conan O’Brien) and his entertainment company, Broadway Video. While Broadway Video was based in New York City, Mr. Principato grew interested in expanding to the West Coast. ”I found myself creeping into Los Angeles,” says Mr. Principato. ”There I found Paul Young, who had a trajectory similar to mine.”
By 2001, the two had joined forces to form Principato-Young Entertainment. ”My partner and I have a reputation for being dedicated, incredibly hard working, and ambitious…inspiring everyone in the company to do the same thing,” he says. ”I am lucky to have great people as a part of our team.”
“I love what I do,” says Mr. Principato. ”There’s nothing more satisfying than discovering someone and getting them their first job. More than anything, I love nurturing creative people to help them achieve their greatest aspirations.”
Born in Queens and raised in Garden City South, Mr. Principato had always been familiar with Adelphi; the University was just down the road from his home. Even though Mr. Principato enrolled in Adelphi’s pre-med program as a freshman, “I realized I was drawn to different things,” says Mr. Principato. “Fascinated with the entertainment industry, I researched opportunities at Adelphi and came across the communications program,” he says. He switched his major from science to communications during his junior year.
Today Mr. Principato lives in California. While he jokes that all of his hobbies have actually become his work, in his free time Mr. Principato enjoys photography, travelling, and music.