When Lou Taylor walks into a room, people tend to notice. Maybe it’s the blingy Lakers championship ring (a gift from client Metta World Peace) on her finger or the bronze Saint Laurent platform heels on her feet. Or, perhaps, it’s that with a name like Lou, most people are expecting a man. “I always love that,” she says.
A New York native who is running one of the top business management firms out of Nashville and L.A., Louise has gone by Lou for as long as she can remember. “I was Lou Lou, and as I got older, I was like ‘I need to drop one,'” she says.
Taylor, who turns 54 this month, found her calling by happenstance. In 1990, her husband relocated to South Florida for work and she needed a job, so she answered an ad. She didn’t even know what a business manager was — she’d been an accountant at mega firm Arthur Andersen — when she joined a management firm called Davimos, where she worked with Uptown Records and met Sean “Diddy” Combs (then an intern at the label, now her longtime client). “I was too dumb to know that women weren’t business managers,” she says. “I always just kept my head down and worked hard.”
She launched Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group in 1992 and reinvested the money she made from clients — including her cut of boxer Michael Moorer’s purses for fighting Evander Holyfield and George Foreman — back into her business. Now, 27 years later, she’s running one of the top firms in the entertainment industry, with a staff of 154 (it’s 70 percent female), offices in Nashville and L.A. and clients like Britney Spears, Florida Georgia Line, Reba McEntire, Jason Derulo, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Mary J. Blige and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler.
“I love the opportunities that a lot of great people have afforded me,” says Taylor, crediting a long list of mentors and friends for helping her along the way, including late music exec Mercyline “Mike” Bernardo, music power lawyers Don Passman and Aaron Rosenberg, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, mogul Irving Azoff and Endeavor executive chairman Patrick Whitesell.
“She’s had great strategy, and it’s created a great culture for people to work in,” says Whitesell. “And her clients know she will fight ferociously for them.” Adds Passman, “Lou has the ability to make finances understandable to people who don’t really want to know about it.”
Rosenberg says Taylor is “exceptional for many, many reasons,” including that she takes a holistic approach to her job and is “redefining what business management means in the 21st Century.”
Florida Georgia Line duo Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley say in addition to being their money manager she’s also a mentor and friend who pours her heart and soul into her clients. “Lou is a true inspiration on so many levels,” they tell THR. “We have no idea how she does everything she does.”
When she’s not helping a client change the cultural landscape (like Spears’ reinvention of the Las Vegas residency), sort out postmortem rights (Prince’s estate) or open a creative compound (like FGL’s Meet and Greet, which she describes as Cheers with lavender coffee instead of alcohol), Taylor is supporting the school she and her husband opened in Haiti and preparing for the launch of a mysterious “disrupter technology” she’s developing: “I work my ass off 24/7.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.