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“Lose Like a Pro and Fail Right to the Top”: Q&A with The Hollywood Alternative Founder Jamie Gruttemeyer

By Ashley Hume
Posted On Nov 01, 2021
“Lose Like a Pro and Fail Right to the Top”:  Q&A with The Hollywood Alternative Founder Jamie Gruttemeyer

Photography Credit: Fadil Berisha Photography

Jamie Gruttemeyer learned the art of resilience at an early age. The 35-year-old entertainment executive, manager and producer began competing in beauty pageants when she was 14 and went on to win the titles of Miss Central Coast Teen 2003, Miss Moorpark 2004 and Miss Ventura County 2007. The experience of being judged in front of thousands of people gave Gruttemeyer what she describes as “a Ph.D. in how to be a lady” and a lifelong passion for entertainment. After graduating from the California State University – Long Beach with a degree in theater, Gruttemeyer decided on a whim to attend the 2010 Miss America pageant where she met famed talent agent John Ferriter.

That fortuitous encounter led to a job opportunity that eventually became a partnership. After working together at top talent agency Octagon Entertainment, Gruttemeyer and Ferriter co-founded their own management-production firm The Alternative, numbering Piers Morgan, Nancy O’Dell, Glenn Weiss, Holly Robinson Peete and Mark Wahlberg among their A-List clients. After Ferriter’s sudden passing in 2019, Gruttemeyer was forced to rebuild, eventually launching her own company The Hollywood Alternative. New You had the chance to conduct a wide-ranging interview with Gruttemeyer in which she discussed the qualities that helped her succeed in a challenging industry, overcoming adversity, balancing work and family life and her approach to health and wellness.

New You: What are the qualities that helped you succeed in the entertainment industry? How did your background experience with pageants help?

JG: Well, talk about rejection! It’s like rejection on steroids. You’re like, “I just got in a swimsuit and heels in front of 3,000 people and I didn’t even make the top ten?” I’ve been working for months and I didn’t even make the top ten? Learning how to lose like a pro. I think that was a big thing for me. Because when you learn how to lose at a young age, you learn how to be sincerely happy for the person who won. You learn how to identify with the greatest part of yourself and say to yourself, “I’m not going to be jealous.” I’m not going to covet what they have. I’m going to sincerely appreciate what someone has achieved. I might even ask to learn from them. And then I can be in competition with myself next time and see how well I can perform next time.

The entertainment business is a very earn-your-stripes kind of business. If I fail or screw up, guess what? That screw up is on me and me alone. It might affect other people, but chances are if I’m taking on that attitude, of what can I do better, how can I do better and lose like a pro and fail right to the top? That’s what I say: lose like a pro and fail right to the top. Because that is what will happen. You can fail forward. You don’t have to let anything in your life, any problems that you have gone through, any adversity be the definition of you or what you can or cannot accomplish.

The way I look at it is that there are 365 days in a year and if 10% of those days are bad days, that’s 36 days in a year that you get to have a bad day. Tell yourself: I’m going to give myself grace instead of quitting, I’m going to give myself grace and chalk it up to a bad day today. You get 36 bad days in a year as far as I’m concerned. If you want to give yourself 10% bad days, you can have 36 bad days whenever you want. I can take a week and have a bad week. I can a bad day or a bad half a day. Remember whatever you go through in a moment or during a season is not the definition of you. It’s how you get through it. Whether you quit or keep going. Whether you stay in the saddle and saddle in, no matter how hard it is, or how frustrating or how embarrassed you might feel, or how ridiculous it is, I’m going to stay seated. I’m going to do my best to learn and pivot through these obstacles.

When John passed away, I was two-and-half months post-partum with my son and I was still on maternity leave. I had stepped in at one point. Poor John was in the hospital unable to speak and not doing well. Everything had to stay under wraps because he was so incredibly important to me and he was my best bud. And I had to step in and close this deal. I just had to go with the flow and saddle in and it was just one of those moments where I was like, I’m sleep-deprived, I don’t know what’s going to happen here but no matter what I have to be strong for my friend and my business partner. At the time, I didn’t know he was going to pass away. But I think all things do work out in the end if you are honest and you have integrity and you decide to show up for yourself.

New You: Who have been some of your mentors and what have they taught you?

JG: I have had some great mentors in my life. Obviously, John was the number one. He invested in me. Some really successful people in this business all came from what we would call the “School of John” because when you worked for John, it was like getting a badge of honor. So, if you managed to get through that training position and get promoted, chances are you were going to be OK because he was not easy. And now I look back and I see he did that for a reason. He was trying to teach me. It was a great lesson and it worked. It’s how I would teach someone who wanted to learn. It’s not because you want to be difficult. You want to teach people that art of resilience. That is so important to learn especially if they don’t come from a background of resilience or learning how to fail or learning how to lose. There are only a few ways to teach it which is why a lot of people don’t make it through the training program. It’s too hard. It’s mentally hard because you have to check your ego out the door.

New You: What led you to found your own entertainment company The Hollywood Alternative?

JG: What happened to me wasn’t by choice. It wasn’t because it was my goal. It happened to me because of a massive tragedy in my life.  I thought to myself, what would John want? He would want me to continue. He would want me to protect our business, to protect our clients and to keep pushing forward, to keep pushing onward and ultimately to not let go of all the hard work that we had accomplished. Even though there were a lot of things that were a mess around me, I thought why I would not make that little jump and take that leap of faith to invest in myself? If all the things that had led up to that moment of allowing me to take that risk on myself, that was that moment. It was being solid for our clients and being solid as a human being and saying I’m not going to give up just because something bad happened. It goes back to that idea of resilience.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into the entertainment business?

JG: For any person who wants to get into this business but women specifically, the time is going to pass anyway. So, make a commitment. Because one or two years will go by in a snap. Don’t quit. It’s very easy to find fault in others. But even when they are at fault, you don’t want to live in that mentality.

Sometimes you have to look at a scenario and say, “I’m going to choose to let this go because my higher self and God within me is calling me to something more. I’m going to choose to turn the other cheek and move forward and look onward and be a leader and be beyond reproach.” It doesn’t matter what position you are in. It’s not about work ethic, it’s about spirit. It’s about your heart and how you show up. Make the time investment. If you are considering making an investment, invest. Because there is never a wrong investment when you are investing in yourself.

Even if it doesn’t result exactly like you think it could or should, have an open heart. Ask yourself, “Am I at my personal best right now?  What do I need to get there and what am I learning about myself and how can I move into a different direction that might allow me to get to that place?” Don’t quit. Never quit.

For me, there were a lot of ego checks, a lot of gut checks. I never felt like my career was going up in flames, but I felt like what I knew around me had crumbled. I learned that you really can’t build your house on sand. You’ve got to have a solid foundation and sometimes it takes those things falling apart around you to realize where you need to rebuild. And how you need to rebuild and to learn from those mistakes. It’s the same pageant mentality. You have spiritual, mental, physical, emotional and financial areas in your life. Look at yourself like a pie and say, “I’m going to raise myself up in these areas because ultimately everything works together.”

Once you have dealt with obstacles, you realize that obstacles are really illusions. They are not as real as you think they are. What is real is how you handle said obstacles. When you have the illusion of having to start all over again, you have to ask, “What do I have in my toolbelt? What is the creative way that I can look at my life and prevent this from happening in the future?” I’m going to give myself an honest investment and in the interim, I’m going to use every tool in my toolbelt to be resilient. And to never give up and no is not an option and failure is not an option.

When John passed away, I was instantly fired by some of our top-earning clients. Anyone who really knew the background between John and I knew that John and I did everything together. It feels like a gut pinch but it’s just ego checks. You have to respectfully let people walk away if that is their position and honor the people who have chosen you. You allow people to do what they are going to do. And you try to learn and remember the people who showed up for you when you didn’t have anyone and who help you and continue to help you stay resilient. Because we are not in this alone. We are never alone.

New You: How do you balance work and family life?

JG: I’m a single mom. That’s had its fair share of challenges.  Not because I think that parenting is terribly difficult but I think that I think I had certain notions of what things would be like and sometimes I had to slap myself on the wrist and say, well that was completely wrong and to have a notion of how something is going to be when you have never done it. And I think that part of the balance is just accepting that there are going to be good moments and bad moments.

There is no one size fits all to parenting. When you are approaching it with a loving heart, even if you think you have made a misstep, there is nothing that a person can’t come back from. Even with your child. You can go to your child and say, “Mommy made a mistake. Mommy needs a redo. Mommy is very sorry.” You teach your kids how to have that empathy and you have to offer that empathy to yourself in order to teach it to them. I’ve seen in my son. The more empathy that I give to myself, the more empathy he can have for himself and the more empathy he gives to others.

And I feel like it’s a great tool to use and to teach. As far as a work-life balance, I would look at my job, I would look at the gifts that God has given me and I would say, that’s more of my life’s work. That’s up for God to decide and I don’t need to have a tight grip. I can have a loose grip and know that I’m meant to be where I am. As long as I am choosing right every day, that is the best way to have a work-life balance. And to balance the idea of being a mom to a two-and-half year-old boy, you have to have a loose grip. Things might change at the drop of a hat and I have to have a loose enough grip to not be upset. To be like today is not going to be like I thought it would and I’m going to be ok with that.

I think that is the best mentality. And to not have too many expectations of how it ought to look. To offer my son joy and to be joyful around him is by far the best thing I can do. No matter how much money I do or don’t make. No matter how many toys I can buy him, no matter what school he goes to. The best thing I can offer him is a joyful heart. That is what will stick with him and that is what will help shape his character is joy and everything else can build upon that. The real foundation of having a child is to teach them joy, to teach them empathy and to teach them love.

New You: You started your career as an opera singer. Do you still pursue singing as a career and if so, how do you balance both careers?

JG: I’m not talent but I believe that I have talent given to me by a higher source so my goal in life is to pursue that love and pursue it with professionalism. I have the right relationships now that I can do that and I can call upon people who I really respect and admire as musicians and professionals and if I have a special project that I am working on, I can say I have a special project that I’m working on.

At the end of the day, I’m not looking for an ego validation. Which often does happen when you are sitting on the other side of the table. It allows me to have an understanding of this business without having an ego check. I choose to do this. I love singing. It’s so much fun. I know some of the greatest, most inspirational people. I get to help them with their careers and they can help me with some of the fun ideas that I have.

It’s all done in the spirit of professionalism which I love. There’s no ego in it and I really surrendered that. There isn’t any more because I have gone through too much and God has shown me a different way of being. I get to have that now instead of feeling like I need to prove myself when I really don’t.

New You:  Working in the entertainment industry, you must have a lot of great beauty and health tips. What are some of your favorite beauty tips? Are there any new beauty trends that you are loving right now?

JG: I love HydraFacials. I’m a big believer in HydraFacials. I’m a big believer using a vitamin C serum or collagen peptide serum. I think that really helps with the glow. Also water and rest and change your pillowcase. If you want to avoid breakouts, change your pillowcase and make sure that it stays clean. Change it once a week because that makes such a big difference. Wash your face. Don’t go to bed with your makeup on and exfoliate. I love Eminence Organics Stone Crop Exfoliator. Oh my gosh, it’s so great. I love Rodial C. It’s an eye cream. Rodial C has this vitamin c toner which I’m obsessed with. It’s really good to use at night. You can really feel it taking the gunk off your face. I love using an Eminence cleanser and then a good toner. And then a good serum and a good moisturizer and off to bed.

New You: Do you follow a particular diet/exercise plan and do you have any tips for New You’s readers?

JG: To be very honest, my exercise is playing with my son. He’s 33 pounds so just lifting him. He keeps me on my feet so that is one great way I get exercise. I did purchase a SoulCycle bike and I really enjoy that. Having the ability to do spin class at home whenever I can is awesome. I don’t do it as often as I would like but as often as I can.

I love drinking superfood coffee. There’s a brand called Philosophie and they have this coffee bundle that I love. It’s called Cacao Magic and it has coconut butter and a protein powder. I do that and put collagen in it. It’s really not just coffee by the time I’m done with it but it’s just so good and I feel like that makes such a difference. I feel like my skin glows and I feel like it has everything to do with nutrition and what I’m putting in my body. I always drink a glass of water in the morning and then do a superfood coffee. The founder of Philosophie is Sophie Jaffe. I love her. I’ve been following her on Instagram. I’m a huge fan of hers.

New You: Are there any fashion brands or trends that you are loving right now?

JG: I love a brand called Electric and Rose. They are a brand based in Venice at Electric and Rose streets and their brand is amazing. I live in their clothes unashamedly for days at a time. You can follow them on Instagram and see when they have sample sales. They have so many cute things. And if I can get to a hair appointment for a root touch up, I feel like I’m winning. I feel like if my hair looks awesome, I look better in everything I wear.

New You: What do you do for mindfulness and self-care?

JG: Number one, if I can get a facial once every couple of months, it makes a difference in how I see myself and the world. It makes me feel better about life. And getting a massage once a month. I found this little place called Element where I go to get a massage. It’s life changing. It’s great for helping release that tension in my back, in my legs, in my neck. I definitely try to do that because if I don’t, I risk hurting myself.

Also taking a good supplement. I love Omega XL. It’s a great supplement. Taking vitamins and supplements that really do help you to stay limber. I love a good sound bowl healing session. If you can carve out an hour to do a sound bowl meditating session, there are so many benefits that you can reap from that. Even if you just go an hour and lay down and listen to some singing bowls. Even if you aren’t into it, it’s like I just took like an hour for myself to lay there and be mindful of my breathing. I would love to do that more. But I do try to be mindful.