Many a theater major has been questioned about what they plan to do with their degree. When Jonathan Lomma ’99 spoke during Franklin & Marshall’s Common Hour, a community discussion held every Thursday classes are in session, he shared one perfect answer: become an incredibly successful theater agent.
Lomma, who graduated from F&M with a double major in theatre and English and rounded out his education with a Juris Doctor from American University’s Washington College of Law, found a lifelong career as one of the country's most highly regarded theatrical agents. As a literary agent at William Morris Endeavor, he represents world-renowned playwrights such as Paula Vogel, Kenneth Lonergan and Terrence McNally.
Though Lomma acknowledged that the job of an agent is one of the few professions where the fictional depiction isn’t too far off from what the real thing is like (“If you’ve seen an agent on TV, that’s what it is,” he joked), he did not hesitate to remove any sugarcoated assumptions from his tale of what it’s like to work and thrive in the entertainment industry. One of the 10 tenets he named for how to succeed was, after all, not to lie.
His advice to the students in the audience was not filled with the blinding optimism that could lead to a false notion of easy success. Lomma was realistic and practical when sharing that finding one’s niche in the entertainment world may not lead to the glamourous leading role that many aspiring majors may have in their minds.
“If I did what I loved I would have been a professional magician doing backyard birthday parties my entire life,” he admitted. “However, I would have been a mediocre one.”
Lomma instead decided to find a role that would balance his love of theater with what he was truly good at and that would ultimately support him and his family. He advised students to do the same.
When you consider those three ideas, he said, “it creates a Venn diagram of three circles and the hope is that there may be something in that place where the circles intersect.”
Though he painted a picture of a career filled with hard work, perseverance, occasional failure and continuous learning, it was Lomma’s heartfelt enthusiasm for his work that was most palpable. He told the audience to not lose sight of pursuing a career in entertainment whether that ultimately lands them on the stage, behind the scenes, or, like him, as a champion for artists.
Don’t worry, Lomma has found an outlet for his love of performing—he was recently inducted to the Academy of Magical Arts.