Too many actors these days believe that getting an agent will end all their troubles and their blockbuster movie role is just around the corner. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, the advantages of signing with an agent — for a lot of actors — bring disadvantages of sleeping on these laurels and completely forgetting that you, as an actor, have to continue doing the hard work you have been doing before signing. Possibly even work harder just so that you could keep your acting representation.
Remember, your agent gets 10% of your paycheck, which means that the rest of 90% of work has to be done by you. You work that much harder to get yourself into the audition room. And while gaining acting representation does mean a significant step forward in your acting career and brings you moral relief at the least.
This also signals that you have been right in choosing this career path and it’s now time for you to step up your game and double your efforts. It’s time to get really serious.
Moreover, actors like to think of agents as an entity that phones or emails them with job offers only. It’s not really how it is and in order for you to maintain a high probability of staying signed by your agent, especially when the times are rough, you absolutely have to build a solid relationship with them before you become a household name.
Becoming Friendly With Your Acting Representation
Assuming that you’re not a major celebrity who just got picked up by an agent, you will most likely end up being just another name in that agency’s list of clients. Those people sign and drop names on a weekly basis, so if you believe you just got lucky with a truly powerful name in the business, you better try your damn best to maintain their interest in yourself.
Half of the actors signed are getting dropped within the first year, so keep that in mind.
As discussed before, acting agents are also people and they sometimes make wrong decisions; don’t give them a reason to think that you were the wrong choice either.
An important aspect to understand is that there’s actually no magical strategy to either gaining or maintaining acting representation. It’s the good old “work hard” and “be a decent human being”. If everything goes well in your career, it’s very likely that you will be working with your agents for many years down the road.
And the further you guys go, the closer the relationship will get. Thus it’s only natural to start building this relationship from the moment you sign that contract.
It’s a new journey for both of you, and you’re hoping it will pay off well down the road. Start building that trust immediately. There are plenty of actors out there who just show up, drop their things — resume, headshots and a reel — and then the agency will never hear from them again. This is not how it works.
Learn to get to know people in this business. While it sometimes feels that everybody is a shallow douche within the entertainment industry (and there are more than enough of such characters), don’t go judging books by their covers and labeling people. Your acting representation is the person who will be responsible for getting you jobs down the line, and you need to develop trust, from both sides.
Get to know your agent and let them get to know you. Don’t build another cold “actor and agent” relationship. You’re all people, act like them. A great example of an amazing agent and talent relationship can be spotted in “Californication“. Although not everybody might want to take it that far.
So how do you accomplish this and do represent yourself as human being, rather than just someone looking for opportunities in the business? Consider inviting your agent to a business lunch to discuss upcoming projects but rather focus on getting to know him/her as a person. Listen to what they have to say.
If there was a particular audition that your agent got you and you enjoyed the part, it’s never a bad taste to send them a “thank you” note or maybe a basket of mini muffins for the whole agency (depending on the size of the role). It’s always a good idea to remember them during big holidays.
You can even drop by the office to share your experience about a special audition you had. Just don’t go pesky and don’t stalk your agent, and you will be in great standing.
It’s the little things that make you stand out and maintain a good personal-slash-professional relationship which makes this difficult journey a little easier for both of you. Nobody wants to work with always cranky and ungrateful actors, just as nobody wants to do any business with acting representation that doesn’t give two damns about their talent. Trust and understanding is the key; nobody’s an enemy here.