NAME: ALLEGRA COHEN
CITY: NEW YORK
HOMETOWN: CHERRY HILL, NJ
NOMINATED BY: RACHEL DOYLE
Tell us what you do!
I am a film producer with a focus in brand integration, and also work as an actor in television, film, commercials, and voiceovers.
I am a Curly Connoisseur, empowering women and girls to embrace their naturally curly hair.
I am an all-around connections specialist!
Did you go to college? If so, where?
Montclair State University with a double major in Theatre and Sorority – go Delta Phi Epsilon, Alpha Eta chapter!
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
My mom used to let me watch all her soap operas with her instead of taking a nap, and as I got older, she and I would record them on the VCR, and watch the episodes after school. I became completely engrossed in the romantic and outlandish storylines. So pretty much since the age of three, I wanted to be Barbara Ryan on As the World Turns or Lois Cerullo on General Hospital.
How did you get to where you are now? Tell us your story!
I grew up in Cherry Hill, NJ, and my original claim to fame was appearing on the Al Alberts Television Showcase singing and dancing to the “Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News. I went off to college to study Theatre, and in my last year, as we were preparing for our acting showcase in Manhattan, a very talented and successful voiceover artist, Chip Bolcik, came to speak to our class about his work in voiceovers. I had never understood what a voiceover was, and in that moment, I made a decision to explore every facet of the entertainment industry when I graduated.
In order to support myself, I sold entertainment for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and have danced at over 1,000 of these parties in the tri-state area. I went to voiceover bootcamp, got my demo reel, and landed my first voiceover agent. As I was sitting at one of my first voiceover audtions, a gentleman sitting next to me passed me his laptop, and asked me to read a couple pages of a script he had just written, and told me to tell him what I thought of it. I instantly told Joe Narciso that it would win the New York Television Festival, and I wanted to help him make it. The show was called Split the Difference, and it was the first project I co-produced.
Not only did it win the NYTVF, but NBC bought the show. Narciso and his wife, Charlene, convinced me that producing was my calling. It was challenging for me to embrace the producing idea, as I was so set on pursuing my acting career. But I soon realized, I didn’t need to choose one or the other.
I went on to produce several web series projects, short films, and then I was invited to a table read of a script to fill in for an actress who wasn’t able to make it. I met Jason Chaet and Rick Moore, the director and writer of Putzel, which I ended up acting in and producing. I learned to enjoy the process of filmmaking even more and rising to the pressure of challenges that come up on set – everything from finding a last minute lox slicer stunt double to acquiring a key location at low or no cost. After almost five years of my coming on board, Putzel played at over 50 film festivals around the world, and was released internationally by Filmbuff. You can now see it on iTunes and stream it via Hulu.
I was hired this summer to join the producing team of I Am Michael, starring James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts, and Charlie Carver. My producer role spanned brand integration, product placement, clearance, deal negotiations, music licensing, wrap party brand sponsors, and post-production follow up.
I leverage people’s strengths so everybody can work at their greatest potential. Usually, what holds people back is money. Producers want to make a great film. I want them to make a great film. For example — taking the wardrobe department as an angle — great wardrobe is an essential part of the creative process, but smaller indie films don’t have the budget to kick that visual up a notch. On the other side, I have a designer with gorgeous clothes but not enough capital to finance a large marketing campaign. My magic is pulling the two factions together — James Franco will look hot in that jacket, the film has a visual upgrade, and the coat gets eyeballs the designer needs. I pull those two relationships together and now everyone’s working—everybody wins. I love it when everyone walks away a winner. It’s so much fun! And isn’t that what being a “girl boss” is all about? We bring fun, energy, and universal abundance to the table.
After huge success working with the I Am Michael producers and director, Justin Kelly, I recently returned from our film premiere at Sundance, a highlight of my career. I am currently in post-production for my latest feature, Manhattan Nocturne, starring Adrien Brody in this niche producer role I’ve created and in development for several other projects.
Any obstacles along the way?
Plenty of them — which is par for the course and so brilliant when you can overcome them.
In the middle of my sophomore year of high school, I was rushed to the hospital, and after emergency surgery, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which is an inflammation of the bowel. It has been a long road, in and out of hospitals, but I am happy to say that for the last five years, I have been in remission. But I first had to face my Gastroenterologist prescribing me to go on IV drugs or other strong medications I would’ve had to be on the rest of my life. I respect my doctors, but I just knew that wasn’t the story for my life I wanted to tell. I chose to say I’m healed. I decided to go against the doctors, and risk the chance that they could have been right, but I had to work with them in a way that felt authentic to me. I was able to collaborate with them on minimal meds, diet (including an anti-inflammatory way of life called THE PLAN, by Lyn-Genet Recitas) and exercise, and now, my reward is that I am a Healing Ambassador for Crohn’s and Colitis, and I am leading the crusade on Women’s Health helping people change the way they are looking at their situations and advising them on health and nutrition.
[Photo via www.kerenlynn.com]
Who is your idol?
My family — my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Especially my brother, Dov. I think of him, and am instantly inspired to be the best version of me. He genuinely looks at life in the most selfless way and how his contribution in words and action will best serve the world.
Three personal traits/qualities that helped you get to where you are:
I have been told my greatest strengths are being proactive, a great listener, and having a tenacious spirit.
Where would you like to be in five years?
Happy in wherever life takes me; surrounded by loving friends and family; making an impact on the world by providing service to others; more time, freedom and flexibility; 100% fearless!
Define “Girl Boss” in your own words.
Girl Boss is redefining the meaning of a creature who is immature, worthless, and past her prime. Rather, she is a woman who is fully grown, conscious and workin’ it! And when it comes to boss, no dominators here (except in the bedroom), but a new take — being open, listening, leading, making powerful decisions, and having creative vision.
Describe your style/fashion sense:
I am a versatile fashionista! I love experimenting with the latest trends, and glamming up my professional looks. I agree with many that true beauty comes from within, however, it’s important to me to live up to my appearance’s full potential. You can’t underestimate the importance of a first impression, and how making the extra effort in our look strengthens positivity and confidence in ourselves, and invokes that energy in those around us.
Favorite brand right now?
My go-to brand is BCBG. The mission behind their brand — good style, good attitude — resonates with me. And my favorite stylist, Diana Gilbert, at their Flatiron location works with me to add pieces to my wardrobe that are professional-chic, and easily function day-to-night.
I have a healthy obsession with Ariana Rabbani. Her line makes me feel feminine, elegant, romantic and NOW. I adore her butterfly necklaces and can’t get enough of my ear jackets – they’re diamonds attached to gold that go behind your ear so that it looks like there are sprinkles of diamonds on your earlobes!
Go-to clothing item/accessory right now?
My Hawke & Co Packer Coat! Super warm for the winter on its own, and also fits under my big winter coats. The coolest part about it is you can roll it up to fit into its own jacket pocket.
What’s your can’t-live-without beauty product?
I have fallen in love with all things Arbonne. It sits with my values, it’s vegan, cruelty free, Ultra-Swiss Premium formulation, and the products do what they say they’re gonna do. A true girl boss leads from the front, and I believe there should be no toxic footprint in the name of beauty!
Some of my faves include: RE9 Anti-Aging line, Genius, Mascara, Tinted Moisturizer, Pomegranate Fizz Sticks
Go-to nail color?
I’m really into ZOYA which eliminates toluene, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and DBP from its polishes – as for colors: Myrta and Haven!
Jet Fuel + Coffee Mate Coconut Creamer.
What makes you feel beautiful?
Dancing – any time any place to Top 40, in my favorite dance cardio class, Body Conceptions, at Beautique in midtown, and Xbox Dance Central competitions.
Attending a Glamour Gals makeover, and spending time with our amazing volunteers.
What makes you feel badass?
Hearing YES after no, no, no!
[Photo via: www.b-freed.com]
Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS inspired me. What book has inspired you?
Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus.
It’s actually considered a children’s book, about 2 caterpillars on the search for meaning. The major lesson I took from the book is that we are all here on Earth to become our full selves, and in doing so, many times in our lives we’re gonna have to let go of the past, embrace it, and hope there’s a beautiful butterfly experience on the other side. We don’t need to compete with each other, we can all be free to fly and help others fly along the way.
No Girl Boss is perfect. What’s your vice?
Which artist/band/DJ are you really into right now?
One of my musical idols growing up was Tori Amos, and this summer when I was working on I Am Michael, the director and I wanted to get her permission to have James play a few notes of “Silent All these Years” on the piano, and to use “Crucify” for the end credits. Tori and her manager, John Witherspoon, invited me to meet her in her dressing room after her to concert at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan. I hugged her and realized her music and lyrics never left me. She once said, “Some people are afraid of what they might find if they try to analyze themselves too much, but you have to crawl into your wounds to discover where your fears are. Once the bleeding starts, the cleansing can begin.” As I’ve been listening to her music again the last few months, I’m listening with different ears than when I was in high school. And her honesty and edginess are empowering.
What song makes you feel like a Girl Boss?
If I’m feeling a little feisty, “You Oughta Know” by Alannis Morrissete or “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here” by Deborah Cox. If I’m feeling super uplifted, “Roar” by Katy Perry and “Starships” by Nicki Minaj. And if I need a little boost in not caring what anyone thinks, “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift.
What’s a quote that inspires/motivates you?
“There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.” –Khalil Gibran
Best advice you’ve ever received? And who gave it to you?
1. “Being shy is a waste of time.” – Marcia R. Hinden, Best MOM ever
2. “Focus on what you can control.” – Dr. Suzanne Trauth, Montclair State University professor
3. My friend and mentor, Jordan Baker-Kilner, gave me a book of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson called Self-Reliance. She encouraged me through this gift to trust my inner voice rather than conform to what society expects of me; to retain the outspokenness of a child who freely speaks her mind; to take pride in my individuality; to live up to my own ideals, even if I’m criticized in the process.
Advice to future girl bosses:
1. Have the courage to be imperfect
2. Be present, focus on the moment each step of the way, have a deep, passionate vision, don’t worry about the future, and then let go of the outcome.
3. Turn complaints into requests, ask specifically for what you want – how can you fix that, where do you start, who else can help you, how can I help you?
4. Not everyone is gonna like you, you can’t please everyone.
5. Embrace confusion.
6. Dream bigger, think better, NEVER GIVE UP!
7. Don’t judge, yourself or anyone else.
8. Possess an attitude of gratitude.
9. Don’t burn a bridge.
10. Surround yourself with your own special team of experts.