I recently read an advertisement for a workshop, in which an industry insider would reveal answers to supposed big secrets, to those pursuing the entertainment industry to help them succeed. They were charging around a hundred bucks for this lecture. The following answers to those questions are published here for free, as my gift to models, actors, and bands.
How to choose the right agent or manager:
This is quite a silly question, because it assumes that all are qualified to even have an agent. In most cases, one does not “choose” an agent, but rather, an agent or manager “chooses” their client. If you are not already making a living strictly off of your acting or modeling work, you should realize that you will be very fortunate to get any agent willing to sign you. And the fact is, the majority are not making a living only off of their craft, so this question is the wrong question.
The right question is how do you get an agent or manager to begin with, and the answer is (1), to make yourself marketable, and (2), to cold call as many as possible and ask for an interview. Also, (3) ask for referrals from others who have great agents and managers to get in with them that way. (4) The other way is to do casting workshops with them, and (5) go other places where they go, such as networking events or the hotspots where they frequent.
If you have more than one rep, let them know about each other so there is no conflict, and check in with them all as often as they will let you, daily if they will allow. Any agent or manager that can get you work is good, so long as they get you paid and operate legally and ethically. There are databases you can easily find online for these lists.
Also, it is crucial that you get along with your agent or manager. You don’t have to be best friends, but I feel that you should either like, love, or yes, fear them, or all of the above. Your agent or manager should be more accomplished, more connected, and more powerful than you, if they are going to potentially do much of anything for you. What is more important to you? – A grinning agent or manager that worships your every move and gives you a yes ma’am, yes sir all day, but gets you nothing? – Or a tough as nails, no bull person that may go off on you now and then and hurt your feelings, but that gets you work and that can take you to the top? I’d prefer the latter. Just don’t be so intimidated by them that you never call or meet them. If that’s the case, then you’re too timid for Hollywood any way.
Most modeling agents are not SAG franchised, however if you are an actor, your ideal should be to have a SAG franchised agency. Your ideal manager will be a member of the Talent Managers Association, or if a smaller, boutique management firm, will at least know of and follow T.M.A. standards. I know agents and managers that work with stars, but they will not publicize that they do, and if you ask, they will not tell you, so referrals are the best route, and the best will only go by referral any way, unless you are very established. How to make yourself marketable is found in the answer to the next question.
How to make yourself valuable to an agent or manager:
Most everyone in Hollywood wants one of five things, or a combination of these five things, which relate back to the so called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that you may remember from high school. After clothing and shelter, moving up to the top, in our case, what most want in the entertainment business is more money, more love or sex, more power, more fame, or a combination of some or all of these.
If you can convince others that they can make more money or increase their fame or power by working with you, then you have it made. If you have a rich friend or a celebrity friend, you can, if that friend does not mind, use their name as a calling card to negotiate getting what you want. Just be sure to ask them before you do that, and don’t promise what you can’t deliver.
If you cannot convince them that you can bring them more money, fame, or power, then you need to consider producing some of your own work, which may involve investing in a project you star in, or investing in some serious publicity for yourself. Another good idea is to offer to take your agent or manager out to lunch at one of the hotspots. This will show them you mean business; you will get a lot more of their time and attention than you would otherwise.
If you do not have the money card as an option, then your last option is to use your sex appeal to win friends and influence people to your way of thinking. Flirting goes a long way in Hollywood, just don’t cross the line, and do not ever do anything that would make you ashamed of yourself afterwards. Stay honest to yourself and others, and have good ethics.
Another way to be valuable is to answer your phone as much as humanly possible. If you absolutely cannot answer your phone, then call back as quickly as possible and be ready to take notes. Do not schedule with us and then try to re-set it. Don’t reschedule. Go out of your way to keep your word and be accurate with what you say. Do what you say you will do, without hesitation, and do it quickly, without having to be reminded. Show that you value others time if you want them to value you.
Elena Talan, pictured above, is a working, professional actress, and also a part time college student. Whenever her agent or manager calls, she answers virtually every time, or will call back within 5 minutes or less. She is also constantly improving her craft with more training. As a result, she regularly gets work, and has a list of major credits on hit T.V. shows and major motions pictures.
Actors, models, and bands should constantly be improving their marketability as a client. If you don’t know how to make yourself more marketable, then ask a talent agent or talent manager what will make you more valuable to them as a client, or what would make them want to sign you if they currently don’t want to. Even if one won’t sign you, most will be eager to tell you what you need to improve in order for them to be more apt to doing so.
(c) 2010, The Hollywood Sentinel, All rights reserved.