So Are You Ready for a Rep? Here’s How to Tell…

“YES, I’m ready!” Well that’s what I expect most actors to say, whether they actually are or not.

When I worked at the agency, since we were a mid-sized office, we all picked up the incoming calls as we didn’t have a receptionist.  It never ceased to amaze me that at least 50% of these daily calls were from actors seeking representation WHO HAD NO EXPERIENCE OR TRAINING AND NO MARKETING MATERIALS WHATSOEVER! Mind blowing.

They would tell me “I’m talented and I’m looking for an agent”, meaning the thought process was that what they bring to the relationship is the talent and the agent does everything else.  Now if you’ve been reading my posts thus far, I know that YOU know differently.  But how differently?  Are you really ready for representation or do you just think you are because you’re talented?

Remember in one of my previous blogs where I spoke about what I looked for in an actor when evaluating them for possible representation?  Marketability? Well here is what I mean by that.  On top of talent, in order to be represented you must have:

Experience on Your Resume – this is a list (more than one credit) of actual work that you have done.  As in “been cast or hired” to perform and not simply starred in your own show or webisode or one person show – for free.  Yes, that kind of work is good too, but can’t be the only kind of work on your resume.  The old “catch 22” of not having an agent “so how can you get work”, doesn’t apply anymore.  With internet self-submission platforms, networking, social media pages/groups and more, getting your own work is easier than ever.

Training and/or Formal Education – This is in addition to your experience, not instead of it.  If you’re just out of acting class, a conservatory, or even a graduate of a 4-year program or MFA, it’s a misnomer that you’re ready for an agent or manager as evidenced by the plethora of school ending showcases with very few offers to graduates.  Being trained is part of the process of becoming a gifted and talented actor, but that doesn’t mean with training alone you are ready for representation.

Stellar and Up to Date Marketing Materials – Today this means all of your on-line profiles with which a representative will be using to submit you must be “tricked out” with everything at your disposal to help them to get you in the door of casting offices.  It’s no longer good enough to submit for representation with a headshot and resume.  You need media (video, audio clips in addition to full demos), various and many headshots, your resume in an order so that your credits speak quickly as to what your area of focus is and more.

A Business Mindset and Industry Knowledge – An agent respects you as a person even more and will be more inclined to work with you when you have taken your time to learn about your industry. Knowing the names of casting directors, shows, production companies, directors, what’s trending in the industry and other easily accessible information is essential. The “me” mentality of most actors seeking representation is very a very narrow point of view and unfortunately too many actors have it. This is the biggest pet peeve of almost every representative I know as they desire a true partnership with their talent.  Taking time to educate yourself in the business of show isn’t only a good idea, it’s what will get you an agent much sooner.

If you’re lacking one or more of the above, then in my not-so-humble opinion you are not ready for representation.  But inside this realization there are clues as to what steps to take in order to be ready.

If you do have all of the above or are well on your way, then my next post will explore your first steps in seeking an agent or manager.  Stay tuned.

By the way, feel free to share where you’re at today.  Just starting out?  Back after an absence? Been at it for a while and still looking for the right fit?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

Why Does an Agent Want YOU?

Yep as an agent, we know we need wonderfully talented and creative actors to represent, but what’s the real reason behind choosing a particular person to work with?

You get to be one of the people responsible for finding the “new face” everyone is talking about.  You are the discoverer of the diamond in the rough.

You’ll gain access to those awesome projects, producers, casting directors and auditions that define your status as an agent or manager. Stepping up a few rungs on the ladder to reach your dreams happens quicker because you’re part of a team.

The feeling of success that comes from working side by side with your talent towards a common vision – your vision – is realized.  The right actors are a faster track to you making a living doing what you love, buying a vacation home and sending your kids to college.

Your resources and relationships will grow.  Your new actor will bring on board their historical experience and network of influence. With your entire stable of actors continuing to create personal relationships of their own, your combined efforts will have you experience the “whole being greater than the sum of its parts”.

Your opportunities for roles that you can leverage for your actors will increase. The talent getting auditions at the co-star level, once booked, can be turned into guest star auditions and so on. Watching your actors progress is not a guessing game but simply a climb on the inevitable ladder to success.  You and your talent will have discussed and targeted the roles they’re most likely to book and are appropriate for.

You’ll be excited to “push” for your actors when needed and get “feedback” on why it didn’t work out when it doesn’t.  Not all the time, but certainly when it counts the most.  This will speed your ability to correct and continue and learn how to make things better for the next audition.

As you add more talented people to your roster to fill out “everything needed on the grocery store shelf” you become the “go to” agent for polished, professional, business-minded, easy-to-work-with actors.  A true win-win for all involved.

Yep, the benefits of having an amazing stable of actors is plentiful.  Keep your eye on the prize and go after the kind of talent that you deserve!  Study them and choose wisely…they are not “one size fits all”.  Remember a pro-fit means PROFIT!

****There’s a reason this post is almost the same as the one before it…and that’s so that you can see that YOU are equal in desire to what an agent wants.  Your job is now to BE what an agent wants, as in attractive to them.  Knowing that their desire in working with you and finding a fit is just as strong as yours can be the FLIP of the switch in your thought process that makes this game so much easier!

Does it feel better knowing that agents have very similar feelings and goals as you?  Share your feelings on this subject please.

Why Do You Want an Agent?

We all know we want and need one, but what’s the real reason behind having someone in your court, fighting for you too?

You get to be one of the talented actors that has a committed partner in your career.  You won’t be on your own anymore.

You’ll gain access to those awesome casting directors and auditions that you otherwise wouldn’t. Stepping up a few rungs on the ladder to reach your dreams happens quicker because you’re part of a team.

The feeling of success that comes from working side by side with your agent towards a common vision – your vision – is realized.  The right agent is a faster track to you making a living with your passion and art.

Your resources and relationships will instantly expand.  With your combined network of influence you’ll experience the “whole being greater than the sum of its parts”.

Generally your casting opportunities for roles that are a pro-fit will increase. No guessing or submitting to any/every audition possibility on every on-line casting site.  You and your agent will have discussed and targeted the roles you’re most likely to book and are appropriate for.

Your agent will “push” for you when needed and get “feedback” on why it didn’t work out when it doesn’t.  Not all the time, but certainly when it counts the most.  This will speed your career up because you can correct and continue and learn how to make it better for the next audition.

Yep, the benefits of having an agent are plentiful.  Keep your eye on the prize and go after the kind of agent that you deserve!  Study them and choose wisely…they are not “one size fits all”.  Remember a pro-fit means PROFIT!

And up next – What’s in it for them?…YES, you want to know this too!

Feel free to comment and let me know personally WHY you want an agent!

What Does it Take to Get and Keep an Agent?

When I was doing my live version of my most popular seminar on “How to Get and Keep an Agent”, I’d open with these questions:

“How many of you are currently looking for an agent?” and 70% to 80% of the actors would raise their hands. Then I’d ask “How many of you have an agent, but you’re looking for a better agent?” and most of the remaining hands would go up.

THEN I’d ask “How many of you are here for the ‘how to keep’ part?” And usually one person would raise their hand and often no one at all.

You know what that tells me?  You have an agent problem.

At 90210 Talent I worked with actors that I had never seen perform live in anything.  Yes I watched some demos to get a sense of what their talents were but for the most part I was looking at marketability (more on that later). Talent is in the eye of the beholder and very subjective.  We all have different points of view.  So if you think your talent is what is going to get you an agent, that’s a mistake. But I digress…

I’m simply making the bold statement here that what you think you know about getting (and keeping) an agent isn’t true.  It’s just what you think is true.

This is the part of the process I love to teach the most!  Your breakthrough in securing the right representation for you has less to do with your talent and more to do with your thoughts around what it takes to get one.

I’ve discovered a pretty pervasive scarcity mentality, an adversarial mentality, and worst of all, a hopeless mentality with regard to pursuing agency and/or management representation. This isn’t true for everyone of course, but if you have any negative emotion around gaining a rep or working with your present one, then keep reading this blog on what it’s gonna take for you to flip that switch.  What switch?  The thought process you have around what they’re looking for, your approach and responsibilities, and what it costs in terms of time and money.  Trust me, it’s a LOT easier than you’re making it!

After almost a decade of delivering this course in many formats the problem I’ve determined that most actors have is NOT how to get an agent but how to ATTRACT the right agent for them.

So how do you attract one? Stay tuned!

Your Agent Has Feelings Too.

Remember how crushed you were when you had 3 callbacks for that pilot, were the first choice of the CD and the director, but lost the part to that name actor at the last minute? Sooooo crushed. Well your agent was crushed, too and that was the fourth time that same thing happened to one of her clients this week.  

And then it was that Network National commercial that she had two clients on “avail” for and they both got released, losing the booking. She talked each of those clients off the ledge, just like she did for you, while at the same time submitting on the breakdowns, closing deals for other clients who did book, and saw 8 new prospective clients at interviews.  She’s holding it together, but she’s ready to crack. Cut her some slack and know that she’s doing her best.

The greatest feeling for any representative is when you book a job. My highest highs when working at the agency were when the call came from casting with an “avail” for one of our actors, then waiting with great excitement and anticipation for the booking call to come. However, when I got “release” emails, or if casting actually took the time to call (rare), my lowest lows were when they didn’t book it.  I felt every bit of it, and then I also felt it again when I had to tell the actor. Talk about a roller coaster.  

I believe everyone is always doing their best and I want you to believe that about your agent too. Your agent is a person. There are emotional, financial, organizational and scheduling aspects to her biz that inform how she operates. She’s got a boss and co-workers, and then at home, her kids and dogs and a husband and, oh yeah, the gym and the book club.  Who am I kidding? There’s no time for a book club or even a book for that matter!  Again, being a representative is hard.

I know you want your rep to believe in you, take care of you and be interested in your dreams. But you believing that an agent lives to make your dreams come true is just plain stinkin’ thinkin’!  She is not responsible for your happiness or your success.  It’s her job to make her own dreams come true and it’s your job to tirelessly and passionately make yours come true. Choose to believe that the work, the marketing and the mindset is ALL ON YOU!  Taking control of your work (craft/business/networking) and being responsible for your own career happiness will have your agent calling you!  And doing all of these things to begin with, before you’re represented, will most assuredly give you your choice of agents and managers to work with.

Feeling good now?

To Your Success, Lisa

Are You Really Hearing Clearly? Communicating with Your Rep.

My agent just doesn’t “get me” is a phrase I’ve heard a lot as a consultant and now since being in the shoes of representation I can honestly tell you why.  Ready? Your agent most likely doesn’t speak your language.

Though some representatives come from an acting background the majority have not, and chances are your agent isn’t in a weekly acting class. (By the way, you are, right?) No, she spends her evenings on the computer till midnight, because the breakdowns come out at all hours.  And I do mean ALL!

While many agents have great instincts about actors, they may not speak a language that suggests that they understand your artistic process. So, don’t expect them to. When they offer a note about your performance that may seem insensitive, don’t take it personally. Transform it into something that helps you grow and expand as an artist. And if it’s not helpful, just chalk it up to “their opinion”.

Again, and I’ll keep saying it over and over, agents are spending 10 or more hours a day on their computers, on the phone, sending email messages and making submission notes, all in service of getting you IN THE ROOM. When you call to talk to them in the middle of all that, don’t expect them to be super sensitive to the creative and delicate artist that you are.

I think folks loved having me work with them when I was at the agency because I was an actor/singer for 35 years (still am!) and could relate on that level and did take the time to consider their feelings.  But I do that as a general rule all day every day with everyone I meet!  Except the guy that cuts me off on the 405 at rush hour…I’m only human!

That was the saddest part of my leaving…a loss of that relationship for both of us.  However my clarity around what makes me happy on an on-going basis and the courage to choose my happiness above all else is what ultimately brought me back to what serves a much larger audience these days.  And I’m grateful to you for being a part of this community and reading this right now.  Thanks for letting me be me!

To Your Success, Lisa

Is Your Agent Cheating on You?

Yes, your agent has other clients. Deal with it. Your agent would go hungry if she only had you as a client. She has to have “everything on the grocery store shelf” to have the best shot at making a living.

One of the fun parts of searching for and finding new talent is creating that awesome stable of actors with unique talents and skills that cover all of the possible casting needs in this crazy industry. We need one or two in every category.  Age, ethnicity, male/female, union and/or non-union, height/weight, languages, special skills, and every possible saleable commodity is needed so we can provide our shoppers, ahem, casting directors, with what they need. So when your phone call/email/text (pick ONE please!) isn’t returned right away, know that there are at least 20 other actors who are also demanding attention.

Again, I share with you that my love of actors and people in general was also the thing that had me leave the agency.  I was inundated with communication at all hours of the day and night because I didn’t set the proper boundaries I needed to have my own life work. This was a very valuable lesson learned for me and let it be one for you as well.  Please realize that while your focus is on ONE career, yours, your rep’s focus is widespread, on MANY others…it has to be. Give them the space and time to respond.  Here’s a great communication guideline to use:

  1. URGENT – Immediate (or within the next couple of hours)  – CALL them

     Examples:

  1. Car broke down/running late to audition
  2. Last minute accident or injury
  3. Having you sign something weird on set/at an audition

 

  1.  IMPORTANT – Something today – TEXT them

     Examples:

  1. Audition follow up – how it went/info
  2. You sent an email that you want to call attention to
  3. Checking in from set/audition and need something

 

  1.  INFORMATIONAL – Something this week – EMAIL them

     Examples:

  1. Recommendations for classes, photographers, etc.
  2. Review of new headshots or other marketing materials
  3. Invitations to performances

In my next post I’ll talk about not just the when, but the HOW to communicate clearly with your rep.  Stay tuned.

What are your thoughts on being “part of many”? Do you feel you’re on the inside; part of a team; listened to? Comment and share!

Your Agent Isn’t an Angel

OK, by saying your agent isn’t an angel, I’m not disparaging their mood, mode or how they operate. What I’m trying to say is that your agent is not here to save you!  

Many actors suffer from the notion is it that it’s the agent’s job to dust you off, polish you to a brilliant shine, and escort you to the promised land. The belief is that the agent does all the work.

In fact this was MY mistake when I took on working with 90210.  Inherently the coach and teacher in me kicked in and I was spending an inordinate amount of time getting the talent I inherited and brought in by the last agent working there into what I considered to be “fighting shape”.  Polishing up their online profiles, telling them the best classes to take that would mean something on their resume and sending a lot of inspiring messages to prop up feelings of doubt, took time away from the most vital aspects of being a representative…submissions and bookings.  

I realized that even actors that are represented didn’t really know a lot about business and marketing and had the thought that it would and should be my job.  They’d do the “show” and I’d do the “biz”. And I was facilitating this…big mistake on both of our parts!

I had seen it for many years when coaching actors…this persistent thought that there’s someone or something outside of you that has the power to make dreams come true with little effort or output from you, and once you find that person, you’ll be rich and famous. But then it was “theory” and here it was in practice, evidence of this insanity.  I drove myself insane too, then I stopped it at the behest of the head of the agency.

I want to let you know that during my tenure there I had actors who never got an audition at all.  I was submitting them a TON and the CD’s weren’t calling them in.  Not because they weren’t talented (how would they know?) but because the materials I had to submit with weren’t viable and requests for new headshots or media on their profiles, updating resumes and other requests were ignored or took months.  I pushed the buttons knowing that they’d never get in the door…and it was a very disturbing place to be in.  Since I left, I’m fairly certain many of these actors have sadly been dropped from the roster.  A very avoidable situation.

Getting an agent doesn’t mean you’ll ever have an audition and it certainly doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do most of the work in getting opportunities yourself.  Leaving it all up to your rep is folly. You have to be in classes, write/shoot/produce/direct your own material, put up a play/Youtube video/Facebook live and get yourself out there. These days you have to work harder than your agent. Training in class consistently, creating your own material constantly, and doing whatever you can to engage with other artists is essential to your craft and your career. You have to give your agent the tools to sell you. Relying upon anyone other than yourself is career suicide. Giving up your artistic and professional responsibility to an agent is a grave error that too many actors make. Do the work and make your agent catch up.  

Stay tuned for more “insider” info in my next post.  To Your Success, Lisa

Conventional Wisdom Suggests that you Need an Agent, but Do You?

My brand for almost a decade, “How to Get and Keep an Agent”, has been my “hook” to get actors to pay attention to what I teach.  It’s because I know the prevailing thought process of every actor out there, ready for representation or not, is that you need an agent and/or manager to make your acting dreams come true.

Agents and managers validate you by saying “yes” to representing you, and when they do, what goes through the average actor’s mind is something like this: 

The doors of casting offices you’ve never been in before will suddenly be flung open and you’ll have awesome audition opportunities.

You’ll then be able to get in front of the real decision-makers, get hired on jobs in a major film or TV show, book a National Network commercial or Broadway show and the result is a big paycheck, champagne and red carpets. You begin rehearsing your Oscar/Emmy/Tony speech.

Conventional wisdom, and this thought process, is all kinds of wrong. I came to find that agents and managers are human beings with human limitations (like me) who require a LOT of understanding (like me!)

The first thing to really understand is that representatives are in a BUSINESS. Our business is to RE-present what you offer the marketplace to our contacts and MAKE MONEY.  Yep, that’s why we do it.  It’s not the only reason of course, but it is the primary one.  We choose the best options for that particular outcome…money in our pocket to pay the rent, put kids through school and enjoy a desired lifestyle.  We don’t choose to represent you because we like you and want to grab lunch or even because we think you’re awesomely talented.  We choose you because we think we can make money with you.

Your job as part of this TEAM, and even before you’re a member of a rep/talent team, is to make yourself easy to sell (both craft wise and with complete and amazing marketing materials) and realize that to be a working actor today, you need to consider yourself as more than simply a talented artist.  Gaining opportunities to show that stellar talent is a full time job, and it’s YOUR job.  A representative is an extension of your marketing efforts.

But you’re an artist who’s in it for the art. Great. But every other artist before and since has had to balance art with finance. It’s a completely necessary consideration. Hearing actors say things like “I have an agent but got in the door on that audition by myself…why didn’t she get me in?” Or, “my agent isn’t getting me any (enough) auditions.” Or “I’m the one writing to Casting Directors, marketing my butt off going to networking events and casting director workshops, so why should I have to give her 10%?”

I’m actually going to answer those questions and hopefully give you a different perspective in my next several blog posts. For now I just want you to accept the fact that your rep is trying to make money. And if you’re not a commodity that’s ready to be sold, it’s not personal, it’s business.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Feel free to comment and share!

Aaaannnnnd Scene. Why I left working at the talent agency.

It’s been awhile since I wrote to you and if you hadn’t heard, the reason is because I took the opportunity to expand into what I thought was the natural progression of my own career –  to become an agent.

After teaching you for so long “How to Get and Keep an Agent” my first reaction when I was invited by the head of the agency to train in the commercial department of 90210 Talent and then take it over, was a resounding NO.  My gut instinct was in play…but after several days of thinking about it I decided “why not”?

I quickly came to realize that I liked, and was great at, HALF of the job. 

The part of the gig I loved was what I’d already been doing as a coach and marketing consultant, however the other half was being at the effect of outside influences that truly sapped my physical time and emotional energy.  These days, being an agent means being constantly tethered to a cell phone, computer screen and clients, casting directors, and crowds of other people (actors seeking representation, production folks with details for bookings, contract info, the union and the list goes on…) in a 24/7 business that never stops demanding attention.

First and foremost, I teach people that if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing and pursing your passion, move on…and fast!  Life is meant to be a joyful endeavor and we spend a majority of it at work, so you have to love your job.  Being an agent is hard work and though I’m one of the hardest workers I know, I soon knew I’d dug myself a hole that I had to get out of because I didn’t enjoy this kind of hard work.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people and plenty of agents who thrive on this constant activity and do LOVE the fast pace of technology, but there are just as many others who are getting out of their line of work because they started out when the industry was quite different.  

As a coach and consultant, I have always had a huge respect for agents and have taught you that, in most cases, they work much harder in service of your career than you think. And in many cases more than you do. Yep, I just said that.  Working at the agency, I unhappily found that last statement to be true.

My thoughts about what the job would entail and what it actually was were very different and I’m going to share in my next several posts everything I learned so that you’ll have all of the vital and important information you need when seeking a rep or working with the one you have now. Stay tuned.

To Your Success, Lisa