Inside the Mind (and Career) of Publicist-Turned-Manager-Turned-Producer Carrie Byalick

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Photo Source: David Needleman

Carrie Byalick didn’t chart a specific career plan while growing up in suburban Long Island. But there was one key prerequisite: She had to work in entertainment. “I’ve always been a ham,” she explains. “So I just wanted to be around people who made me laugh.” 

Oh, and one more thing: “I didn’t want to have to do math.” 

Done and done. 

In December 2021, Byalick—a beloved publicist and manager who had become one of Stephen Colbert’s most trusted advisers—was tapped by the Emmy-winning comedian and talk show host to head up his and wife Evelyn’s production company, Spartina Industries. She now calls the shots on a number of TV projects and is the executive producer of the new late-night talk show “After Midnight,” starring comedian Taylor Tomlinson. 

Through her 25 years in the business, Byalick has never stopped learning. “It turns out that all my experiences have been valuable,” she says. “I come to the table knowing who I am and with a belief in myself.”

What are some of your responsibilities as an executive producer for “After Midnight”? 

What doesn’t an executive producer do? I’m in meetings about everything from what the set should look like to the color of the show’s logo. There’s no definition of what the day-to-day is because the day is always changing. I refer to it like whack-a-mole: You solve a problem and you fix it. Then something else pops up that needs attention, opinion, and strategy.

After Midnight“After Midnight” Credit: Terence Patrick/CBS

How is it a plus that you come from a nonproducer background? 

When you work with people who come from different experiences, it enhances any working environment because you have an added value. I think it’s really important to look around the room and lean on each other as a team because we’re all in this together.

How did you get your foot in the door of the industry? 

I was lucky enough to get into the Gallatin School at NYU; my thesis was hero worship in the media. Then I interned for [publicity firm] PMK. My first junket was for “Benny & Joon.” One of the publicists, the legendary Robert Garlock, introduced me to Johnny Depp and I had to pretend I was super-chill! 

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What was your big internship takeaway? 

I always tell people just starting out to go in blank because your job is to be a human sponge, give it your all, and see if it speaks to you. I did this internship and it lit me up inside. I couldn’t believe you could have a job where you have access to actors talking about their craft. I thought it was magical. 

Did you bounce around after graduation like everyone else? 

I started working for a PR firm in New York. Then I did a stint as a fashion publicist with Cynthia Rowley. Then I moved to Los Angeles and helped with E! Entertainment Television covering red-carpet premieres. Then I got hired to be a talent booker on Howie Mandel’s short-lived daytime talk show. The cast from “There’s Something About Mary” came in to do an interview in 1998. I started talking to Ben Stiller’s publicist, Kelly Bush, about how I was looking for a change. I eventually moved back to New York and worked for her. 

What skills did you pick up during this time? 

I was building my career on observing and being fearless. Because what you can’t do is hold back. When you’re young, no job is too small. At E!, I’m there trying to wrangle Kate [Winslet] and Leo [DiCaprio] for the “Titanic” premiere. During an internship, I had to find salt-free peanut butter at 1 a.m. Just be open. 

How did you approach your transition into management? 

I just started doing what anyone who’s thinking about starting a new job should do: Ask questions. I met with many managers that I had respected for years. It turned out that the job as a publicist and a manager were pretty similar. So I decided to take a bet on myself. I wanted a new chapter and wanted to learn new things. 

So how does producing overlap with being a publicist and manager? 

It’s all problem solving, it’s all creativity, it’s taking a small idea and seeing how big you can make it. You gather and connect the right people for the right job. It’s a combination of all my beautiful careers, including my love of comedy. Oh, you’re telling me Josh Radnor from “How I Met Your Mother” can’t be a Nazi hunter on [the Prime Video drama] “Hunters”? I want you to see how it can happen. When you lean in to getting people to see things in a different way, that’s a producer. It turns out I’ve always been a producer. 

Do you see yourself in this career for the long haul? 

I’m still in the pinch-me part of my life, so I’m trying to take it day by day. I didn’t know a few years ago that I’d be doing this, and when I was a publicist, I didn’t know I’d ever be brave enough to start my own managing company. At 50 years old, I keep surprising myself.

Carrie Byalick spent 18 years as a personal publicist at ID for the likes of America Ferrera, Paul Giamatti, Greta Gerwig, John Krasinski, and Amy Schumer. She started her own talent management firm, B. Company, before becoming president of Spartina Industries.