Founded in 1979, The Robert Bruce Ugly Agency launched as New Zealand’s first - “A Casting Service for Stuntspeople, Specialist People and Real People” to quote the poster. The “uglies” offered a unique alternative to model agencies who were up until then the only on-camera or live performance representation in New Zealand.
Throughout the 80’s, the theatrical representation roster grew and alongside, the stunt coordination services provided by Robert himself became more in demand. In the early 90’s the decision to scale down stunt coordination services in favour of the more “serious actor castings” brought a shift of focus and “Ugly” gradually faded from use.
Over the decades The Robert Bruce Agency has been intimately involved with the growth, maturing and ever-growing international success of New Zealand’s screen and stage productions, its storytellers and especially its actors, and with that so too the agency’s global links and relationships.
With Robert’s unexpected passing in 2009 his partner in life and business, Gabriella Larkin-Bruce, stepped up to take over the ownership of the agency.
Gradually putting her stamp on the business, in 2010 RBA Voices was added to in-house services - a boutique division specialising in animation, voice acting, documentary narration and commercial voiceovers.
Then in 2016, RBA’s Australian based operations began, with Sydney as the location to anchor the Australian presence. Given Gabriella’s professional history with the Australian stage and screen industry and her personal ties with the country this expansion was inevitable. Australian subsidiary director and agent Penny Larkin heads the Australian operations.
2016 saw a soft rebranding with the transition to RBA Management.
The continuing commitment is to build on the Agency’s special history, promote and foster great talent on both sides of the Tasman and pursue a clear vision for future growth.
Managing Director | Senior Agent
On the verge of her final year of a BA Hons degree in English Literature that began at the University of Auckland (UoA), then the University of Western Australia (UWA) Gabriella (aka Gabby Clark) followed her true calling to train at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in Acting in the early 80’s. Having trained throughout her youth in speech and drama in New Zealand, Gabriella’s wide-ranging professional acting career started on stage and screen in Australia, then the UK and The Netherlands. Back in New Zealand in the mid 90’s, a run-in with cancer triggered a major refocus, which led to some years in event management, film & television production, and the setting up of a pioneering digital streaming platform production company MedTV, specialising in health education content.
Along with Robert’s no-nonsense, fair dealing ethos her professional acting and producer credentials have come in to full play.
Before becoming a fully fledged team member Aileen had spent most of their formative years in the orbit of the man himself, uncle Robert and the Robert Bruce Agency, absorbing both Robert’s character and values and observing the business. First assisting Gabriella then growing into the role of agent Aileen is also the source of valuable insights into the next generation and the digital universe.
The growing needs of the agency’s Australian interests are anchored in Sydney by Penny. No stranger to the industry, Penny spent some years with the Southern Star Group (now EndemolShine Australia). Her logistics and account management skills have proved increasingly relevant as she and the team co-ordinate across the Tasman. Building on the Agency’s 30+ year links with Australian casting directors and producers, Penny has reinforced those relationships across the genres as our local agent. As well as looking after our Australian actors, Penny is actively expanding our roster of local talent.
Office Manager | Accounts
Coming on board when Gabriella took the helm in 2009, Louise’s long corporate career as an Executive Assistant proved invaluable. Louise plays a key role in supervising the processes that underpin success: general office administration, maintaining databases, and assisting in talent co-ordination and accounts.
A strategic partnership with Elevate Media provides resources and services for content creation and media management; and uses the in-house media room for headshots and self-tests.
Branding and marketing communications support for the Agency and its clients is provided by ikons.
The Robert Bruce Agency engages Stoven Advisory Ltd for financial management services.