How to Succeed in Hollywood: Be Available, Answer Your Phone

Talent manager and film producer Bruce Edwin offers free, ongoing advice for actors, models, and bands on how to do the right things in Hollywood. These secrets are rarely taught in school. Find out what most industry professionals aren’t telling you.


When a casting director, agent or manager asks you to give them your avails, that is short for your availability. Now, this should be obvious, but far too many actors and modes make this more complicated than it really is. And your agent, manager, or a casting director is super busy, and so when they ask when you are available, they don’t want to hear a rambling three or five minute long list of your dirty laundry, grocery shopping list, and errands you have to do. Unless it’s relevant to something they want, they don’t care, so don’t waste their time. They want the information asked for, and that’s it. Don’t relay unnecessary data when doing business, it wastes time, and it distracts from the relevant data needed to be provided.


When we say give us your avails in the entertainment industry, that means we do not need to hear what you are doing, when you are walking your dog, driving your friend to the airport, and when you are not available. What it means is to tell us or list when you ‘are’ available from one time to another, so for example, if you were putting this in writing for them in an e-mail, you would list something such as follows:

MON – 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. open for meeting or casting, 6-9 P.M. open for phone conference call

TUES – not avail

WED avail after 3pm until 9pm for meeting or ph

THURS – checking out – Vacation in Hawaii, return Jan. 3rd, avail by phone only during weekdays

Answer Private Calls:

Do NOT make excuses for not answering your phone, and never tell anyone in this industry that you do not answer private calls. I’ve had offices on major film studios, and every studio in town requires that the companies on their lots use their phone services, and the numbers are always generally blocked (private) or have a dummy number. I told a model once that we had a dummy number, and she got offended and thought I was calling her a dummy. A dummy number means if I call you from a studio, a phone number may register on your caller ID. You see that number on your caller ID, and if you get the wise idea to try call it back instead of listening to the phone message, a recording will indicate to you that the number is not in service. If someone tells me they don’t answer private calls, or complains about it, it tells me one of several things, 1, they are a control freak, 2, they are paranoid and may be in debt with bill collectors who are after them, and therefore are not responsible or viable, 3, they do not deal with film studios or agencies, managers, or casting, or 4, some or all of one through three.

I used to never answer private calls, and then I got this thing called privacy manager on my phone when I was in college, and thought it was so cool, which made callers announce their name before it would let me decide if I wanted to put the call through. I then started getting complaints about that from big shots in New York City at some of the major record labels, telling me it was ridiculous, and wasting their time, and that if I wanted to work in the entertainment business, I should remove that, and answer private calls. I listened. They were right, and now I find myself having to repeatedly give the same advice over and over again to aspiring actors, models, and even new producers.

Answer Private Calls, Do Not Use Technology to Screen Your Calls From Private Numbers, and Unless You Have a Real Office With a Secretary, Do Not Have Another Party Screen Your Call.

Don’t Trace Calls

Never call back numbers on your caller ID. That is super annoying. If someone wants you to call back a number, they will give it to you. I use one line strictly for outbound calls, and another for incoming and outgoing on deals I know are big. Once in a while, I will call a potential new client from my private land line, and they will dial the incoming call that came in on their phone, without having the number. Don’t do that. It’s creepy. Again, if someone wants you to have a number, they will give it to you, do not trace calls and call them and then ask who this is. “Who is this?! You just called my number and I traced your call!” NO! Don’t be crazy with your phone! Answer your phone the first time, and leave the Dick Tracy work to Warren Beatty. Don’t tell other people to answer your phone, after you don’t answer yours. Those that can do something for you in the business most likely are in a position of financial success and power where they do not need you or your business to survive and be viable. So they will think, who the heck is this person, telling me to answer my phone, when they don’t answer theirs? That’s crazy. Remember, if you are not already famous, or pulling in about a hundred thousand annually on your work, a casting director, agent, or manager does not need you. You need them. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who are not famous and not making big bucks with their craft, that we can choose from if we want amateurs. So don’t act like you are doing casting or management or an agent a favor, because you are not. They are doing YOU a favor. This goes back to my top 3 reasons most people fail in this industry, and those reasons are again:

1. does not answer their phone, can’t be reached

2. is not professional, does not treat show business as a business, too much ego

3. jealous or negative person in their sphere of influence that drags them down

If you wanted a job at any respectable business, would you show up with your lover, show up late, complain about former employers, tell the potential employer to answer their phone when you call, or complain about how you don’t answer private numbers? Just because the entertainment industry is more casual in certain regards, does not mean that you should violate treating those that can get you a job any less than you would any other employer. That is one of the major reasons models and talent fail in Hollywood. If you do not take the entertainment industry seriously, as a business, then no one will take you seriously either.

Don’t Give Orders.

Don’t order some one to call you by phone, or on a message. You should ASK them, and politely. For example, don’t leave a message to a producer, casting director, or talent manager and say, “CALL ME BACK!” If they don’t get a polite PLEASE in there, some will NOT call you back!