A FAST Company: Talent Agent balances school, professional life

BOSTON--When Nan Ding '02 steps through the small green doors of her 59 Temple Place office near Boston Common, the Quincy House resident becomes Cecilia, a licensed talent agent.

As the co-owner of Talent the Agency, a modeling and talent firm, Ding has lived a double life of sorts for the past three years, juggling academics with the rigors of the business world.

It's a balancing act she's gotten used to since coming to the United States from her native China in 1993.


Surprised by the pervasiveness of domestic violence against teenagers in the U.S., Ding in 1996 founded Friends and Shelter for Teens (FAST), the nation's first teen-founded and teen-run domestic violence prevention program.

"We were all underage, but we could still run an organization and have a mission," she says. "You can do a tremendous amount as your own boss." Members of the group performed plays about abusive relationships and produced a weekly cable access show.

But despite good publicity and enthusiasm from the volunteer participants, Ding says funding the group proved problematic.

"We were spreading the message and talking a lot about teen crime, but we just couldn't make the bill," Ding says. "While people were very supportive vocally, when it came to opening up their pockets it was more difficult."

It was around then that Ding happened to meet Cuong Lu, a professional model and actor who had founded Fashion for Shelter, a non-profit organization that raised money at fashion shows to support a shelter for battered Asian women.

Recommended Articles