“When you have as much responsibility as I do, you don’t have time for bullshit,” says Lou Taylor, a woman allergic to mincing words. In the 25 years since she launched Tri Star—at just 28, with two baseball stars and one boxing heavyweight— Taylor has managed the business side of the careers of artists including Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, and Britney Spears, as well as athletes, directors, and writers. She runs a team of 90 in two cities, Los Angeles and Nashville, and 70 of those employees are women. Taylor says her female-heavy workforce isn’t about leveling the playing field; it’s because women make for better artist managers. Male talent often prefers working with a woman business manager because “moms were the people that you trusted for measured discipline,” Taylor explains. “When you talk about unpacking skill sets inside of a business-management firm, I find that women give a more well-rounded, 360 degree contribution,” she says.
Taylor is quick to name three powerful male mentors—WME co-CEO Patrick Whitesell, music attorney Aaron Rosenberg, and Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino—who have not “disparaged me or talked to me as anything other than a business partner.” Still, sexism snakes its way into Taylor’s daily dealings. The week she spoke with Marie Claire, she was chastised by a male business manager when he felt she “had a tone with him” during a conference call. “He said, ‘Let’s face it, you’re a strong personality,’ ” Taylor says. “My response to him was, ‘I’m a strong personality? OK, well, I run businesses on two coasts with close to 100 staffers and 89 highprofile clients, plus their trusted advisers. I would call that competent.’”
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