What excites you about being an agent?
Being an agent is a lot like being an actor or casting director. There is EXCITING work out there for us TOO. We all have to work very hard and consistently in order to be seen, heard and taken seriously. When we do land an audition or a job its very important to take stock of that and realize what a major achievement we have scored. I tend to get excited about auditions my clients have. The first time one of my clients books a “Law and Order”, an Off-Broadway show, a Production contract, or a Feature Film is enthralling. I am very proud of the actors I work with and thrilled to watch them thrive.
What is the most effective way for an actor to approach an agent?
The most effective way for an actor to approach an agent depends a great deal on that actors’ picture, resume and which agents they are trying to approach. That being said, what tends to work most for me is referrals from casting directors, directors and other actors with whom I have a strong relationship and can trust. So, if there is a casting director who brings you in on a fairly regular basis, it can’t hurt to ask for some agent advice. At the same time, its very important that your prospective agent sees your work. Ideally, it would be in a show or on a reel, but I also find The Actors Alliance, Actors Connection and One on One to serve as strong tools to expedite agent-actor communications.
Is mailing unsolicited headshots and postcards an effective way to get the attention of an agent?
I read all my mail and I do call people in both from headshots and postcards. My advice would be to do mailing to specific people and not to everyone in the Ross Reports. Do some research and try to figure out realistically which talent agencies would be a good fit for you. Also, if you are mailing a picture and resume, a cover letter is essential.
Is there anything you wish more actors understood about the business side of showbiz?
Yes. Actors should be aware of AEA, SAG and AFTRA minimums. They should have a concept of what is or isn’t commissionable. They shouldn’t stop by their agent’s office without scheduling a meeting first. Being as efficient and concise as possible can go a long way, meaning returning phone calls, getting to auditions in a timely manner, sending thank you notes, etc.
Are there common mistakes you see actors making regularly?
1. When actors see that their agent has called, but don’t check the message first. It sounds baffling, but this happens a lot, and is very frustrating. In most cases, we have spent time leaving details on the message. Its silly to think we would want to repeat the same information again.
2. Choosing inappropriate and/or overused monologues and songs to audition with.
3. Sending unsolicited reels and voiceover demos.
What should actors consider when looking for an agent?
I recommend actors research agencies in the same way one examines grad schools or apartments. Make sure you are actively involved in the process.
What are you looking for in an actor?
Talent and sanity.
Do you go to showcases?
If I have clients in them.
Is there anything that would make attending a showcase more appealing to you?
Better venues. A/C. I greatly appreciate it when an actor reminds me its OK for me to leave at intermission.
For someone who has just arrived in New York and wants to be an actor, where do you recommend they begin?
I honestly couldn’t say without knowing a little bit more about the actor. I wouldn’t recommend they do anything if I wasn’t aware of their picture, resume or talent.
What should actors know before they arrive?
The scene here is intense and competitive and the odds are against you even if you are beautiful and talented. Its very hard to get regional and NYC paying theatre auditions/jobs without an MFA and its very hard to book TV/FILM without an aggressive agent pushing you.
What are the responsibilities of the actor after he or she signs with an agency?
To keep doing exactly what they were doing prior to signing with an agent (other than looking for an agent). Its important for the actor to inform the agent what they are doing on their own (EPAS, workshops, going out of town, etc). Hopefully, the actor and agent have an open communication and they can connect all these dots.
What can actors do to make your job as easy as possible?
I think trust is an important part of the actor-agent relationship. Actors should be clear, consistent and assertive about what they do and don’t want to do with their careers. Ideally the agent understands and works towards those goals, without being reminded of them every single day.
Do you feel having an agent is essential to a successful acting career?
It seems that way, doesn’t it? There are too many actors and not enough solid work. Casting directors and agents are necessary to bridge that gap.