Paonessa Talent actors head for TV and film stardom

New stars Alex Moffat and Lucas Jade Zumann

The next 10 days will be especially exciting for talent agent Marisa Paonessa. She will be making two consecutive weekend trips to New York to celebrate the TV and film premieres of two of her agency’s talent.

She will attend the Oct. 1 premiere of “Saturday Night Live’s” 42nd season, in which her client, improv artist and sketch performer, Alex Moffat, will debut as a regular member of the iconic TV series.

A week later, she returns to Manhattan for the Oct. 8 New York Film Festival Centerpiece premiere of the feature, “20th Century Women,”  in which the agency’s 15-year actor, Lucas Jade Zumann, has a starring role as the teenage son of star Annette Bening.

Paonessa Talent Agency has represented Moffat for seven years, during the time he performed at The Second City, Zanies, The Comedy Bar, The Annoyance and iO Theatre, continuing the representation when he moved to LA last year.

Talent agency owner Marisa PaonessaIn mid-August, Paonessa brought Moffat back to Chicago to appear in the annual showcase that iO Theatre’s Charna Halpern produces especially for “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels. Shortly thereafter, the agent was notified that Moffat had been tapped to test in front of “SNL” executives in New York.

“It was always my dream to get one of my actors on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ so I was very excited when Alex got the call, while he was packing his bag to return to LA, that he’d won the audition.”

Moffat was signed for a long-term contract as a regular on the show, along with new cast members stand-up comic Melissa Villaseñor and Mikey Day, “SNL” sketch writer, comedian and performer of LA.

Zumann a Paonessa Talent client since he was 11 years old

Paonessa Talent has been Chicago teen Zumann’s agent for four years, after a local casting director saw him at an open call and suggested he get agency representation. This year he’s had roles in “Chicago Fire” and “Sense8,” the Wachowskis’ Netflix TV series that filmed here.

In late 2014, when Paonessa received the breakdown for “20th Century Women,” she immediately taped Zumann for the part of Jamie, whom single mother Bening tries to teach about love and freedom.

Paonessa eventually heard back from the producers who requested Zumann audition in LA. He won the role and returned to LA when the 20th Century Fox production began filming September, 2015.

Zumann also will be at the New York Film Festival for “20th Century Women’s” premiere. The movie will start a limited theatrical release on Christmas Day and already has picked up Oscar buzz. See the trailer here.

The seven-year old boutique talent agency has two agents, Paonessa and Deven Hartley, and two associates, Ella Rosenfeld and M. E. Barker. They have an active talent roster of 320.

The agency is located in Lincoln Park at 1512 N. Fremont; phone, 773/360-8749; Email,

Sidebar: “SNL” signed Alec Baldwin to play Donald Trump on the series, starting with the Oct. 1 episode.