I know a lot of actors who have had the great fortune of signing with agents this year. I call this “great fortune” because of the way these actors talked about how desperately they needed agents prior to having singed with agents this year. You know these actors. They all believe, once they sign with an agent, that they will instantly become working actors. They feel, once they sign with an agent, that their careers will experience a boost unlike anything they’ve seen. They claim the only thing standing between them and regular work in the industry is an agency logo on their resumés.
Now that a few months have passed since many of these actors have signed with agents, I’m hearing something very different. “He doesn’t do anything for me.” “I never go out on auditions.” “They are dragging their heels in helping me decide on a headshot.” “She never pitches me to casting directors.” “If I had a better agent, I’d be working all the time!”
Um. Yeah. Okay.
I’m seeing a pattern and I really don’t like it. Before you had an agent, all you needed in the world in order to be a working actor was an agent. Okay. Once you had an agent, the only reason you’re not a working actor is because your agent isn’t working hard enough for you. So, what happens when you get another agent and find you still aren’t working enough to suit you? If you find yourself in this situation, you are playing the blame game and you will never hold yourself accountable for your status as a working actor.
This puts you squarely on the road to Bitter-ville, if you ask me.
First, to assume that having an agent’s logo on your resumé is somehow the secret key that opens all doors for you as an actor is simply ridiculous. If you’re not getting into auditions on your own, you’re not going to miraculously start getting into auditions because you sign with an agent. Certainly, many actors find that the caliber of projects for which they read improves after they have signed with an agent, but these actors often have come into this new relationship with their own momentum building toward this eventuality.
Here’s the basic guideline: you’re only going to get a few more appointments with new agency representation than you were getting before you signed with this new agent. “A few” can be defined by anywhere from three to three hundred more appointments. I know that’s not terribly helpful, and the reason the range is so very broad is because, for some people, signing with a new agent really can light a fire under a stalled career. For some people. Most actors, however, will get out just about as often as they ever did, after signing with a new agent.
So, this means a couple of things: it does you no good to think that getting an agent will get you more auditions AND it does you no good to blame your agent for the fact that you’re not getting more auditions.
Some people hustle. They work the system, they nurture their relationships, and they stay on top of what’s happening in pre-production like their careers depend on it. They do drop-offs, they call in favors, and they audition all the time. Other people mail a postcard to every CD and agent in the various directories every few weeks and complain that they never get called in on anything.
“Oh, if only I had an agent! I bet I could get in THEN!”
Here’s a tip: the same people who hustled before they got an agent tend to continue to hustle after they sign agency contracts. They continue to work their relationships, participate in staged readings, self-submit, and keep their agents aware of changes in their resumés. The only thing the “other actors” do after signing with agents is, well, mail out postcards stating that they are now repped by such-and-such agency. Yawn.
Imagine you are an agent. For whom do you want to hustle? The actor who will be hustling along with you, already showing up on the radar of all of the casting directors in town due to his or her own efforts or the actor who will constantly complain that you — the agent — aren’t doing enough to get that actor out?
The moral of the story is this: get yourself out there. When you reach a certain level, agents will be looking to sign you. Until that time, there is plenty of work you can get on your own through direct-to-CD submissions, showcases, and the ever-popular building of relationships (AKA networking). If you have so much free time that you are constantly lamenting the fact that you do not have an agent, trust me when I say that you will use that same free time to lament the fact that your agent is doing nothing for you, once you get one. It is up to you to drive your career forward. Once you’re standing on the threshold of doors only an agent can get you through, there will be an agent eager to sign you. Then you’ll be on to the next tier of your showbiz career. Until that time, hustle.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000139.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.