We had our free quarterly SMFA Tune-Up call on Saturday. We’ve been doing these free calls since early 2014 when the 4th edition of Self-Management for Actors was fresh from the printer and my goal to keep the book UPDATED with these regular get-togethers caused us to break out the teleconferencing system and make connection happen.

Obviously, in the time since then, there’s all sorts of livestreaming and Zooming and so much connection in so many ways… and the calls are a little old-school in scope. But we still do ’em. 😉 And hundreds of you jumped on with us Saturday for all sorts of delicious Q&A.

Without a doubt THE number one most asked question was some form of: “Should I still be submitting to agents and managers right now?”

See, it’s currently submission season. Because pilot season wrapped (almost right on time) in mid-March, we usually see drop season in early April (this is when agents and managers drop actors whose bookings didn’t align with expectations), followed by meeting season in May (which is when reps take MEETINGS with all the actors they may want to add to their now-leaner roster, in prep for episodic season, which starts up in July). (I have a free SMFA Casting Calendar for you over here; you can also grab my deeper-dive monthly calendar here.)

So… in a “normal” April, my work would be all about prepping y’all for submissions (after you’ve spent the whole first quarter of the year doing your research and targeting homework so you know you’re submitting to your hell-yes rep), helping you get your agent WOW kit together, and then getting you room-ready for your meetings to come next month.

But what about now?

Is submitting to agents and managers TODAY a good idea? Did drop season happen? Will meeting season happen? What’s up?

Okay, since we’re generally working under the assumption that episodic season WILL happen starting up in early July like always (with even MORE production happening, to rush to fill the gap that will start showing up on our screens soon), that means agents and managers WILL be taking meetings in May and June. These meetings will just be happening virtually.

That’s because agents and managers HAVE been dropping actors from their rosters for the past month. The data for those actors’ bookings was already in the win or loss column before the shut-down and that means business decisions were already being made about which clients would remain clients and which ones would be sent off to find better-fit reps for their tier, talent, tone, type, and targets.

BUT! Here’s something that was met with a little gasp during Saturday’s SMFA Tune-Up call so I want to be sure to put it here so you can read it and read it again: NOT EVERY AGENCY WILL WEATHER THIS PERIOD OF TIME.

Here’s what I mean: There are some agents and managers who were already on the edge, already precariously positioned, already feeling burned out or “over” the whole showbiz thing… and when physical doors closed in mid-March, rather than working to go online, do more business virtually, help their clients get their at-home self-tape set-ups ROCKING, and be ready to make the most out of all the voiceover bookings and shot-from-home production that is still very much actively happening all over the world, they decided to close up shop altogether.

Look, no harm, no foul. There are people who shuttered their businesses after 9/11. There are people who shuttered their businesses during the writers strike. There are people who shuttered their businesses during the recession a little over a decade ago. There are just people out there who use the momentum of massive stress like this to help them make a decision that they were already near making before.

So there has been a lot of shifting going on right now in the rep world. Agencies dropping some of the AGENTS who work there. Partners splitting up. Managers who were already doing business out of a Coffee Bean most days of the week deciding they’re done. It’s just a reality of high-stress times like these and there is ZERO judgment about that.

What it *means* though is that you will need to reevaluate all your research before doing submissions. Because submitting to an agency that looked like a great target on March 9th could be a waste of your energy once you do enough research to learn they’ve made some big changes.

Here’s your homework: Return to your data, pay attention to who is hosting virtual networking events and monologue jams, research the relationships between buyers who are VERY MUCH active right now and the reps who supply those fine folks with actors every damn day (yes, even now, no matter how much the dickwhistle on Facebook wants to come at me about how “You’re [sic] mindset is nonsense” about production actually still happening right now, and how much amazing networking and prep work for the next tier can be engaged in at this time), reevaluate your targets, and then submit like the ninja you are! (And yes, I can help if this all still feels overwhelming to you.)

Don’t submit just to submit.
Don’t move forward with your pre-quarantine submission plan.
But YES. Very much YES, you should still submit. With purpose. Based on data. Because production very definitely is happening and will be happening massively in a few months.

You’ve got this!

Comments are open below. I’d love for you to share your gameplan with me (and if you don’t have a gameplan, let’s get you there, hon!! It’s TIME)!

Much love,

Bonnie Gillespie autographed the internet

Enoughness is an inside job… and sometimes you need a guide to find your way there. Let Bonnie Gillespie get you started.

[REPLAY: How to Get an Agent by Bonnie Gillespie]

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  1. Laura Buckles April 13, 2020 at 11:54 pm

    I found out my theatrical agency was closing just before the interesting times began. I was calm because I had a game plan and next but. But. Now. I feel like I have to start over.

    1. Bonnie Gillespie April 14, 2020 at 12:16 am

      Okay, so here’s the fun part (and a part of your brain fully knows this): You’re not STARTING OVER. You have a list. You’ve done research. You had a gameplan and it was solid. MOST of that gameplan is STILL solid. It just needs a wee bit of recalibrating. You’re still on the right road and headed toward the right destination; you just found out there’s a detour… and a lot of options for still getting to the same place. 🙂

      We can huddle on this if you want some specific advice, but I’m fairly certain you know exactly how to tackle this from a producer-brain space. “Lost a location? Cool. Where’s my list of all the other locations we could’ve gone with?” 😉 You’ve got this, babe!

  2. Kelsey McMahon May 11, 2020 at 2:40 am

    This article was totally what I needed to hear, thank you. I just moved to Los Angeles in November, so I’m stuck with no representation, two background acting vouchers, and an IMDB profile with a few ULB indie credits. I trained at Juilliard, but it’s been a few years since I graduated, so I don’t have ‘the glow,’ if that makes sense. I’ve gotta admit though, when I first graduated, I wasn’t ready for the next level. The years I took to be with my family, and grow up a little gave me the grounded-ness that I was missing. I feel like my situation is an odd one to be in, and it’s hard for me to know where to start. But at least I know I’m ready now. I’ve been submitting to any self-tape open call I can find. I’ve been listening to many great interviews with various casting directors. I’ve been asking google a lot of questions it doesn’t have the answer to, which led me to this wonderful article. So much of me wants to find ways to reach out to agencies, and your article has given me perspective on how to do that the right way. Cause you’re right, people are losing their jobs right now, or people might want to focus on being with their family. I can certainly understand taking this time to step away and connect with loved ones. Thanks again, and happy belated mother’s day!

    1. Ninja Erin May 12, 2020 at 10:42 am

      Glad this was helpful, Kelsey! ❤


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