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February 27, 2024

Manager and producer Aleen Keshishian ’86 represents some of Hollywood’s top talent.


In the spring of 1986, Aleen Keshishian ’86 needed to transform a stage into a drive-in movie.

Keshishian was directing the SPS spring musical, “Grease,” and was struggling with how to stage the production’s famous scene of characters Danny and Sandy at a drive-in. With only a $300 budget, her options were limited. How could she make it look like the two leads were together in a car?

She turned to her brother, Alek Keshishian ’82, for advice, and inspiration struck: the theater itself would be the drive-in, and the two actors would sit in the middle of the audience, as if they were sitting side by side in a car. “The audience was there and could see Danny put his arm around Sandy,” Keshishian says. “It was really memorable and original, and an example of a challenge that became an opportunity.”

It was a little bit of entertainment magic that presaged Keshishian’s career as one of Hollywood’s top talent representatives. Her company, Lighthouse Management + Media, counts stars like Jennifer Aniston, Selena Gomez, Paul Rudd and Olivia Rodrigo among its clients. On a given day, Keshishian may be reviewing stage lighting designs for Rodrigo’s latest tour, traveling to New York to see one of her clients perform on Broadway, editing a movie trailer or convincing a director to pick up one of her client’s projects.

“I have about 30 clients, and my company has more than 100, so there’s always someone I’m trying to do something for or do something with. Every day is different,” she says.

Keshishian got her start as an assistant to legendary casting director Juliet Taylor. “I went from being her intern to her assistant, and I started casting small films of my own,” she says. “I realized I felt more excited about advocating for the actors rather than figuring out who’s right for a part. I wanted to be an agent.”

As an agent, she had an uncanny knack for spotting talent early and nurturing her clients. Her first client was 11-year-old Natalie Portman, and years later, Keshishian encouraged Portman to collaborate with director Darren Aronofsky on “Black Swan,” which earned Portman an Academy Award. She’s also represented Paul Rudd for almost 30 years.

After more than two decades at some of Hollywood’s top agencies, Keshishian set out on her own and launched Lighthouse in 2016. The company name, she says, represents how she approaches her work — she guides her artists not just in building their careers but also encouraging them to do good in the world.

“I want to provide direction to artists and also bring some light into this industry that, at times, is somewhat dark,” she says. “I really feel this incredible love for my clients.”

Aleen Keshishian '86 with Selena Gomez

The company name [Lighthouse] represents how I approach my work — I guide my artists not just in building their careers but also encouraging them to do good in the world.”

— Aleen Keshishian ’86

She credits her success in part to being honest and direct. In an industry where money and egos can make trusting someone difficult, Keshishian aims to be a constant for her clients. “I tell younger people at my company that people should pay us not because we’re they’re friends, but because we’re providing a service to them — getting them a better deal, expanding their creative horizons, or bringing them ideas they never dreamed of. … I’m not transactional. I may tell people to pass on a lot of things that would make them a ton of money … believing it’s not best for my client.”

Keshishian points to her work with Selena Gomez as an example. Gomez was nervous about releasing “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me,” a documentary about her struggles with mental health. Keshishian and her brother, who directed the film, encouraged Gomez to move forward. “It was this movie about a reluctant popstar who wants to be a humanitarian, about giving back and being part of a community, and she was terrified about releasing this. It’s very personal,” Keshishian says. “But my colleagues and I encouraged her and explained why it was so important.”

Keshishian’s parents, and her years at St. Paul’s School, helped instill her commitment to social change. With Gomez, Keshishian co-founded The Rare Impact Fund, an initiative committed to raising $100 million for mental health care in underserved communities. “That’s one of the things that makes me most proud,” she says. “If I can help instill those values in young people, it’s very fulfilling.”

That passion — to make the world better, to bring creative people together in pursuit of great art — continues to drive Keshishian. She traces it back to early experiences directing productions at SPS and at Harvard. “I view the world as an artist,” she says.