Question: Recently a teenage girl asked me if I could be her agent. This was my answer to her.
I’m sorry to have to tell you that I’m not an agent. Maybe I will be in the future, but I’m not right now. I can tell you what I would do for example if you were my sister.
The best way I can help you is to give you information about what you should do. I can best do that through the website and through books. The website ActingCareerStartUp.com gives you information about an acting career. The book Acting Career Start-Up: Four Key Factors For Success give you the tools and resources to be able to put it all into practice in a very effective way. I can give you a step by step on how to find an agent, but you will need some training first.
If you were my sister, I would help you get into a good acting school with a good teacher first and tell you to stay there. After you have been in classes for about six months or so and start to have a base of preparation and skill, we would look for a print and a commercial agent for you.
Commercials are good, because you can earn what they call residuals. That means after the one or two day shoot of the commercial, you get paid for that and you get paid based on how many times the commercial is actually run/played. That means you could be getting checks for a few thousand dollars for several months into the future all from the commercial shoot you did once! National commercials can make you thousands of dollars not to mention the enormous exposure you can enjoy, which can be helpful to promoting your acting career.
If there would be time, I would have you take an improvisation class too maybe once a week. That would be really good for commercials, because in commercial auditions you are often asked to improvise a scene and make believe.
By this time we would have been hashing out what your strengths and weaknesses are and what kind of acting career you would really like to have. I would also be constantly observing you and your level of commitment to what it is you are doing. If I am going to be helping you, then I don’t want to waste my time helping someone whose heart isn’t in it and I don’t want to waste their’s either. If I would see that you don’t have the passion, the drive and the determination to do what’s necessary, I would no longer support you in this endeavour. I would want to be your coach and not your babysitter. If on the other hand I see that you are really into it, then I would give it my best to help you be successful.
Then I would try and find you a legit agent (for film, television, theatre if that’s what you are interested in and where your strengths lie.) using a 12 step approach that I recommend. It’s a step-by-step on how to get an agent.
Then, still as your brother, I would also help you set up a system to do mailings once every month or two in as much of an automated way as possible; targeted mailings to casting directors and agents and production companies with headshots, résumés, cover letters and post cards. At the time we do the first mailing, I would start prepping you for the meeting with the agent, teaching you the basics of effective communication, how to build rapport with the person you are talking to, how to read non-verbal communication and so forth. We would study what agents are looking for and what they expect from actors. We would also examine the business of being an agent, so that you can put yourself in his/her shoes, so you know how it feels, at least as much as possible to be on the other side interviewing the actor. We would also do simulations so that you would be ready for the meeting. We would study the industry together and be well informed about what the issues are that actors face, also what the trends are in the industry. We would know who the big players are in the industry, who the people are that we need to know to really help your career take off and who casts for the types of projects that you are interested in. And finally, we would go into the meeting having rehearsed a list of questions to ask the agent to make sure that we also are getting the kind of agent we want to represent us and who can give us the best chances for success.
And after all that, I would bet any amount of money I have, that you would get an agent! But we would still be active doing mailings and I would be doing many other things to help you promote your acting career.
That’s it! That’s what I would do if you were my daughter and had time to represent you properly.