Actors Asking for Feedback

Hello from New York, you beautiful people!

My five-week world tour is underway and I mean it when I say *world* tour, y’all. For two solid weeks I’ll be totally off the grid! But first… there’s Manhattan.

Yes, I know, I know, I *just* got back from Atlanta — where my marvelous first-ever agency hosted me for a talk (I always meet with their clients if I can when I come through town; it’s a giveback for their early belief in me — you should offer up the same, you know. Your experience WILL enrich the lives of others if you start sharing it more. Consider reaching out to your first reps or first theatre company today. Offer a talk). When I got back to LA for a quick week before boarding another plane (y’all, I got to fly in a POD), I got an email from the marvelous folks at Houghton Talent thanking me for the visit and asking a question one of the agents meant to ask while I was doing the Q&A.

It was a great one, because so many actors feel like getting feedback is an essential part of their auditioning lives, and, well, the question was from an AGENT. Basically, “Should actors be asking casting directors for feedback? Or asking their agents to GET feedback from the CDs?” Really great question, right?

Welp, I find feedback is potentially sketchy territory. IDEALLY, an actor gets feedback from a coach, a craft class, a regular acting workout group going on. The actor knows his/her quirks and tics and safe spaces and is able to stretch and grow just like he/she would do in a good workout at the gym either with a personal trainer in on things or working in a group. That’s the BEST place to get feedback.

The danger in asking for feedback from BUYERS (which of course are not only the casting directors holding the audition but also the agents repping the actors and being the go-between for the feedback) is that you (the actor) are essentially REMINDING buyers why we didn’t cast you, by asking for feedback.

The actor may think it’s a smart move — that you could get some feedback that helps you do better for that particular buyer next time, that maybe you could even get info about an adjustment that would be easy to make, etc., and how wonderful to get more information, right? But there is such a big downside to inviting a buyer to think about WHY we didn’t select you.

You’re asking the casting director — who has cast the role and moved on to a new episode, new set of roles, new casting job altogether (where there may be a new opportunity for you) — to go back in time and remember your audition, specifically thinking about why YOU WERE NOT CHOSEN. Think about that! You’re asking us to think (potentially negatively) of you from an old job rather than considering you for some NEW job.

So the casting director shares some feedback with your agent. Okay, great! Your AGENT — who makes money when you BOOK — has just been given an itemized list of what you did WRONG in an audition, why you weren’t chosen, and even if it’s mild or mid-level meh and not really “bad” feedback, it’s still all information about how YOU ARE NOT MAKING YOUR AGENT MONEY TODAY. Why do you want your rep thinking of you with all those “here’s why we didn’t cast your client” items?

You don’t.

Sure, this whole scenario could go better. Let’s play it out “best case” style. Best case: You were great and the casting team really just went another way. Period. Nothing to change. “We sure wish we could’ve used you on this one. We’ll get you in on another one. Keep doing what you do. Don’t change a thing.” Okay… since the potential downside is so much worse than this, why don’t we just assume *this* is the feedback and don’t ask for it outside of classes or coaching?

Think about that.

Assuming your feedback is, “Keep doing what you’re doing,” you can go on with your life, not risk reminding ANYONE that you could’ve done anything even a little bit better — seriously, that’s your coach’s area of expertise, not your reps’ or your buyers’ anyway — and just keep booking rooms, trusting that over time that will make a difference.

Hey, you signed up for our FREE quarterly SMFA Tune-Up call happening this week, right? If not, fix that up over here please. Cannot WAIT to jam with you about all things ninja… and then fly so far off the grid and into the vortex that you’ll barely recognize me when I get back on the grid in November.

Woo hoo!

Let’s jam, y’all!


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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2 Comments

  1. Amelia Rico October 9, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    This is all wonderful, thank you for this! It’s always been tempting to ask for feedback, especially when I was really young but I found the older I got, the less important it became. It may have also been the fact that I now have casting experience myself and am often asked for feedback and usually, whether I give it or not and whether I initially liked the actor or not, it sours the actor for me on a personal level. I can feel their insecurity, desperation and inexperience and that’s not the kind of actors I would trust on set. Or, it can feel like an attack. Like they’re saying I made a bad choice and don’t know what I’m talking about since emails always feed on our own insecurities. We read them in our own voices so I always find that things spiral negatively whenever I try to engage through emails alone. If I really do like an actor, I prefer to either ignore the request or reply with what you said earlier, “keep doing you, I hope to catch you next time”.

    Reply
    1. Ninja Erin October 9, 2018 at 5:26 pm

      Thank you for sharing, Amelia! ❤

      Reply

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