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Industry Innovators 2024: Lita Monteiro

The creative director of Astarte Creative specializes in bespoke entertainment that merges fantasy and authenticity.

Industry Innovators 2024: Lita Monteiro
"Our work is informed by a rich tradition of transformation and fantasy, and this ethos of valuing experience and expression above all has remained constant—even as we have adapted to fit into the corporate sphere," says Monteiro.
Photo: Courtesy of Astarte Creative

Industry Innovators 2024: Lita MonteiroPhoto: Courtesy of Astarte CreativeLita Monteiro is the creative director of Astarte Creative, an experiential creative agency specializing in bespoke entertainment for events, media, and marketing initiatives worldwide. She's based in Brooklyn, N.Y. 

How she got her start: "My foray into the event industry began in high school, assisting my mother with her independent catering gigs. We would turn our modest home kitchen totally upside down, prepping everything the night before each event. While the details of the events themselves are a bit hazy now, I feel it's important to acknowledge this as my starting point.

College introduced me to the vibrant world of event and nightlife photography, and eventually, body painting. Immersed in the EDM and rave scene, I found a niche where my passion for capturing and elevating moments flourished. Those days and nights, from New Orleans to Miami, were a constant buzz of creativity. Despite the minimal pay and sometimes challenging environments, these experiences enriched my creative journey, offering invaluable lessons in resilience and artistic expression.

My significant leap into the private event industry came almost a decade ago at the NoMad New York. After a year on the guest relations team, I became the 'Dreamweaver.' This role was a unique blend of creativity and logistical wizardry, focused on crafting personalized experiences for a wide array of guests. It was here that I first delved into set and creative design on a professional scale, marking a pivotal growth in my career.

Concurrently, I worked the door at Shien Lee’s Dances of Vice events whenever I could, an experience that revealed an intriguing blend of edge and opulence in New York's event scene. When Shien offered me a full-time position at her agency, initially known as Shien Artists, I accepted right away. Embracing this new chapter, I gradually became a key team member, ultimately advancing to creative director following our transition to Astarte Creative.

These past six years have been a whirlwind of learning and growing. We've tackled a wide array of events, each requiring a unique blend of creativity and coordination. In my role, I collaborate with a diverse array of clients, planners, artists, and designers, weaving together entertainment experiences for every imaginable occasion. It's hard to summarize, but it's a journey I'm deeply grateful for." Industry Innovators 2024: Lita Monteiro"We are in the business of world-building, curating experiences where every element is intentional, cohesive, and perfectly placed to resonate and interact within our created universe," says Monteiro.Photo: Courtesy of Astarte Creative

What sets her company apart: "What sets Astarte Creative apart is our unique fusion of talent, vision, and collaborative ethos. Our team, a collective of young, dedicated artists from diverse cultural and creative backgrounds, brings a wealth of expertise to our projects. We eschew the traditional top-down approach in favor of a collaborative model, recognizing and leveraging the individual strengths of our team members. This philosophy of collaboration and recognition has become increasingly important to us as we continue to grow.

Industry Innovators 2024: Lita Monteiro"[Our] commitment to authenticity can be seen in our wardrobe, much of which is handmade and unique," says Monteiro.Photo: Courtesy of Astarte CreativeOur journey from artists and club kids to industry innovators underscores our commitment to authenticity, imagination, and the unconventional. Our work is informed by a rich tradition of transformation and fantasy, and this ethos of valuing experience and expression above all has remained constant even as we have adapted to fit into the corporate sphere.

We are in the business of world-building, curating experiences where every element is intentional, cohesive, and perfectly placed to resonate and interact within our created universe. In our productions, every performer plays a crucial role, each adding a distinct element to the narrative we weave. This careful consideration and integration of talent are what enable us to tell a compelling, unified story at each event.

To manifest fantasy with authenticity, we pay meticulous attention to every detail because we understand that creating magic requires more than just assembling elements; it requires an alchemical process that imbues our work with soul. This commitment to authenticity can be seen in our wardrobe, much of which is handmade and unique, again reflecting the club-kid ethos of innovation and individuality on a grand scale. Our desire is to establish a signature style that is unmistakably ours, recognized by industry professionals at a glance.

In conclusion, what truly sets our company apart is not just our innovative approach or our commitment to excellence, but the team itself. It is the diversity, creativity, and unwavering dedication of our group that makes us unique. Each member brings a wealth of experience and a unique perspective that enriches our collective work, allowing us to create experiences that are not only immersive but transformative."

Industry Innovators 2024: Lita Monteiro"In our productions, every performer plays a crucial role, each adding a distinct element to the narrative we weave," says Monteiro.Photo: Courtesy of Astarte CreativeWhat innovation means to her: "Innovation, for me, is the vital antidote to complacency. While it's comfortable to stick with what's proven, true excitement and fulfillment come from exploring new possibilities and merging diverse creative and human elements to create something that's not just unique, but deeply resonant.

My inspiration is drawn from a kaleidoscope of sources: cultural traditions, the arts, pivotal historical moments, and the personal stories that shape our experiences. This rich tapestry of influences compels us to push beyond conventional boundaries, incorporating the full spectrum of life's vibrancy into our creations.

We ask ourselves: How can the emotions evoked by a movie, the thrill of hearing your favorite song for the first time, the tenderness of a first kiss, or the awe of witnessing the Roman Colosseum at its zenith be encapsulated and translated into an experience that fills a room?

For me and my team, innovation is not optional; it's the essence of our work, ensuring that each project not only captivates but also transcends ordinary experience. Without the spirit of continuous innovation, our work would lose its impact and meaning. Viewing our projects through an innovative lens not only keeps the work exciting, it's essential for keeping our creativity alive and fostering our artistic growth."

Memorable moments: "Last December, the Versailles Masquerade for THINK Neurology's annual dinner in Houston stood out as a hallmark of our collaboration with our clients. This event marked a significant milestone for both my husband, Onyi, and myself, being the most ambitious project we had undertaken without the guidance of our founder, Shien.

Our partnership with The Events Company allowed us to scale our creativity, flying in top performers and crafting a custom wardrobe and staging that brought our ambitious vision to life. The evening unfolded as a captivating narrative, with aerialists, acrobats, and artists weaving a tapestry of performances that immersed guests in a fantastical world. The heart of this spectacle was an ensemble of actors and dancers performing on an elevated banquet table, embodying the essence of the royal court. This immersive experience granted partygoers the privilege of becoming esteemed guests of this fantastical realm, encouraging them to fully embrace the fantasy and temporarily adopt new personas.

Our cast remained in character throughout the night, engaging guests with playful banter and astounding them with acrobatic displays. The entertainment was rich and varied, featuring choreographed dances, original musical pieces, aerial feats—including an opera-singing aerialist—along with contortionists in giant Champagne glasses, a ballerina balancing on Champagne bottles, tandem jugglers, and a glamorous cyr wheel artist.

A particularly memorable moment was when Lee, the event planner, burst into the greenroom during our costume change with exuberant praise, a testament to the night's success and our team's synergy. We had pulled it off.

After changing into playful rococo lingerie for the final act, mirroring the guests' heightened spirits and inviting them to partake in the revelry with fewer inhibitions, we returned to the ballroom. The finale of the evening was a dance party, initiated with a choreographed waltz that seamlessly evolved into contemporary dance styles, including hip-hop, break dancing, vogueing, and even twerking to the beats of New Orleans Bounce and Beyoncé, in a nod to the Houston locale. The transition was marked by LED juggling, aerial dances, and models frolicking through the room with hot air balloons filled with party favors, effectively handing over the night's reins to the guests.

The transformation of the venue and the seamless integration of every entertainment element created an unforgettable atmosphere, highlighted by the joy and wonder on guests' faces. The Versailles Masquerade was not merely a testament to successful execution but a vivid display of our collective creativity and artistry, leaving a lasting impression on all who participated in this magnificent celebration."

Astarte Creative x The Events Company x THINK Neurology Reel (Landscape) from Lita Monteiro on Vimeo.

Her biggest hope for the event industry: "Looking ahead, I’m optimistic about the event industry’s evolution. Onyi and I have delved deeply into discussions about its potential, and we share a robust belief in the industry's capacity to not only persist but thrive, especially as artificial intelligence becomes more intricately woven into the fabric of the arts. We foresee an escalating demand for entertainment experiences that offer deep immersion, fueled by the relentless progress of automation and a societal shift post-pandemic toward craving more meaningful social connections and creative outlets.

I imagine a future where events transcend traditional formats to become lavish, sensory-rich experiences that seamlessly blend various art forms, effectively dissolving the divide between the audience and artist.

It's my hope that the industry will pivot toward not just immersive but transformative events, establishing a new benchmark for creativity and audience engagement. I envision entertainment programs that do more than captivate; they should actively involve guests, breaking down the conventional barriers to foster a deeper connection with the event's theme.

These immersive elements, which are often an afterthought in the planning and budgeting phases, deserve a forefront position in the minds of clients and within the event planning process itself. My ambition is for the creation of events that resemble sensory oases, becoming not just an option but the industry standard, heralding a new era of event experiences."

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