Acting Career Question: Talent Agency in NY?

Talent Agency in NY?
I am considering getting an agent, I have had a lot of experience, and next week I am getting head shots. I have made up my resume and so far it’s really good. My mother and I just can’t find a decent talent agency in NY.

What do you suggest?

I am not saying I’m going to to get an agent, but it’s worth the try.

ANSWER:

Well it sounds like you are doing the right thing by keeping your mother involved. That is especially important as there are a lot of creeps out there preying on young people. They will tell you anything.

I just recently received a story that I will be posting soon on my website for aspiring actors. It is from a girl, sounds like she’s about your age. She and her mother were almost victims of a scam at some agency.

One of the things you will want to think about doing is making sure that you know what your type is.

You have two choices. You can either go after any and all agents or you can go after an agent in a targeted and methodical way. Needless to say, the second way will get you better results.

First of all it’s important that you know what your type is. If you are not familiar with that concept, find out. See if your acting teacher can help you figure it out. Type is important because it will help you to make sure that your head shot, your résumé and your cover letter are all giving off the same message. That will get you some extra points, because you will be not only projecting an air of professionalism, but you just might make it easier for an agent to decide to bring you in for an interview.

I can recommend to you a way that I used to personally get my first agents in a relatively short period of time.
http://www.actingcareerstartup.com/how_to_get_a_talent_agent.html

Don’t forget then that you will want to prepare for the interview itself. One of the best resources to help you do that and to help you be able to prepare for some of the questions that an agent might ask you is Brian O’Neil’s book, Acting As A Business: Strategies For Success. I know Brian personally and he has many years of experience in the industry as an agent, actor and personal manager.

Lastly, another thing that you must never forget is that agents are in the business to make money. They can make more money from, and will be willing to invest more in people who are well-trained, prepared and who have a better chance of booking work.

In order to be all those things to an agent, you need to be trained…well. You should be taking classes continuously.

I wish you the best of luck!

Tony

Acting Career Question: I want to get into television hosting. How do I get started?

You have two main possibilities in my opinion; both of which I would pursue. First of all, I am an actor, author, motivational speaker and seminar leader and I have done some hosting of live events and presented on video for companies.

Get yourself some hosting training. Learn how to use an ear prompter and a tele prompter. If you want to be a host you will need those skills. You can find people who teach classes on those things like Pat Murphy in NY www.mediaimagecoach.com . She’s very good.
So, first and foremost you will want to be trained!
You will need to be good at marketing yourself to production companies and casting directors who cast hosts.
You’ll also want to find out which agents or agencies have hosting departments and contact those people directly.
I wrote an article on the site about 12 steps to getting an agent that you can check out if you want.

Something else you should take into consideration. That is become an expert at something and create your own show! With today’s technology, you could create a program of your own and shoot it all over the internet, youtube, myspace, facebook and there are so many other sites like that. You could build a website and become a point of reference.

Remember that something else that is important and that will help to increase your possibilities of getting booked on jobs is how big your fan base is. What I just suggested is an excellent way to create a fan base or a following of people who can’t wait to see your videos or the next episode of your show.
Here’s another page on my site with videos on it that I took off youtube that show how some actors and entertainers are making their own videos to promote their careers.
http://www.actingcareerstartup.com/job-in-acting.html

To follow the path of creating your own show or website you will need an extremely high dose of PASSION. If you have passion you will want to work on your project all the time and doing things for it will not be a chore. If you are thinking more about what people want and less about your passion, you will find that the things you have to do for your site or for your show will be a chore and you won’t enjoy it.

Lastly, when you do create your videos and your show, you will then have more things to show your agent or to casting directors interested in your skills.

Good luck!

Tony

Question: I WANT TO BE AN ACTRESS SO BAD I CAN TASTE IT!!!! I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. I HAVE SOME EXPERIENCE. I CAN SING AND DANCE A LITTLE…

…My problem is that I don’t know where to start. Can you help?

ANSWER:

First of all, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t fulfill your dreams. You can do it if you have a method. I changed my life completely from corporate manager to actor/voice-over artist, host, author, motivational speaker and I’m loving it. This change took place three years ago and I’m still not where I want to be, but I am enjoying the journey and most importantly, I’m making some serious progress! I have agents working for me. I have productions companies and casting directors and agents call me either for work or for auditions. But this didn’t happen over night. It takes time and lots and lots of hard work.

It will take time to build your career and set yourself up for long-term success. I conduct a lot of interviews that I share with aspiring actors and one of the most recent ones was with a noted industry professional who owns an acting school in New York. She said that, “You should plan on at least 2 – 3 years in the beginning, preparing your base so that you can get to the point of being able to compete with well-trained actors who are and have been working regularly.”

Most aspiring actors never make it for several reasons.
1) They think that it is just a matter of getting an agent, no training, no classes, just get an agent! False!
2) They are not motivated enough to ‘see it through’ and to do what is necessary to be successful.
3) They have no business and marketing skills or what’s worse, they don’t realize that they themselves are a product that they must sell and have no clue how to do it.
4) If they do get an agent, they believe that the agent should do all the work and get them all their auditions. Let me take an historical quote from John F. Kennedy and twist it for the purposes of my communication: “Ask not what your agent can do for you, but what you can do for your agent!”
5) They neglect training, because many people around them (family and friends) tell them that they are cute, beautiful, make people laugh, are talented and should go into acting.
What they don’t realize is that most if not all of those people are not qualified to say whether or not you are talented enough or have what it takes.
6) Most aspiring actors neglect probably the single most important show-stopper: Money. They don’t plan to be able to have either enough money set aside to really be able to pursue an acting career full-time or they have not set up at least one or more streams of passive income so that they will be able to concentrate fully on their careers.
7) They have no clue what’s going on in the industry, what the trends are, who casts the types of projects they are interested in.
8) They don’t know what their type is and thus don’t focus their efforts on getting that type of work. Their headshots, résumés and coverletters don’t speak the same language. And the industry professionals they contact are not the right ones.
9) Lack of focus and method and strategy to get what they want.
10) They don’t know themselves well enough. The market is so saturated with well-trained actors AND with people who think that they have what it takes to be an actor. It is ESSENTIAL to find that something special about yourself that will set you apart from all the other actresses out there who are of your type. Otherwise, you will get lost in the crowd! Once you’ve figured that out, you need to find a way to get to the people who could be interested in what you have to offer. Here’s my approach to how to figure that out: http://www.actingcareerstartup.com/actor.html
11) They start out approaching their acting career by asking themselves the question, “I wonder what an acting career will get me?” instead of, “What am I going to bring to my acting career? What do I have to offer?”

So, what to do? If you are really serious about pursuing an acting career, there are several things to do in my opinion.

First: Research: Find out as much as you can from people who are already doing what you want to do.
Learn about the industry: Read Variety, Backstage for starters.
Learn about the different acting techniques.
Research different schools. Interview teachers about their teaching methods, techniques, audit classes if they so allow.
Figure out how much time you will realistically be able to dedicate to an acting career.
Figure out how you will make money so that you don’t have to work 9-5 and don’t have enough time to pursue your career.
Then get into a good acting class with a good teacher and stay there…forever! What I want to say there is that your training never, ever stops.

If you want to in the meantime, you could check with your local film commission to see when Hollywood films will be coming to your area to shoot so that you can put in for some extra work. Check this page link for 17 things you could do today to get started.
Also, you could sign up with some extra casting agencies. That’s great experience at the beginning of your career to learn how things work on set and make a little money at the same time.
You could also get into some community theatre.

Lastly, if you really are serious about becoming an actress, you will find these things to be easy and you won’t be able to wait to do them. If you are not motivated enough in the long run, you will find all these things to be a chore and tremendously difficult.

I know this was a long post, but I get passionate about this!

One last quote from a Hollywood acting teacher I recently interviewed named Bernard Hiller: “The elevator to success is broken. You’ll have to take the stairs.”
Good luck!

Tony

If You Were My Sister

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.

Question: Is it ok to take multiple classes and would your recommend it?

  • Hi there! Ive been a fan of your site and writing for a while now. I agree with you on the importance of being in acting classes. I just have one question. Is it okay to be enrolled in many at once and would you recommend it? I know lots of coaches offer multiple classes. I want to take classes from two seperate coaches at seperate facilities. One for private and the other for group. Do you think that could be offensive to either of them? What about combining three? Thanks for your time!

    I’m glad you like my website! That’s always nice to hear.

    There are different schools of thought about taking multiple classes. There are for example schools that offer intensive programs like the one I went through a few years ago in New York. It can be a great experience. Before I did that program all at the same school, a year before that I had gone to New York and put together my own class schedule combining different schools and different teachers. My schedule was:

    Mon: Yoga!
    Tues: Technique (Method based)
    Wed: Audition technique, Sensory work (Method) and Scene Study (Method)
    Thurs: Improvisation, Yoga.
    Friday: Technique
    Saturdays: occaisionally there were specialty classes and forums with casting directors and agents that I attended.

    For me that worked out fine.

    I believe it is possible to successfully take different classes at once, but they should all be based in the same technique. For example if your acting class for technique is based in Meisner and your acting coach teaches Method, I wouldn’t do that. It can be confusing to you. Any classes you take, you want them to complement each other. If on the other hand, your tecnique class is Meisner and your scene study class and your acting coach is also Meisner based, then I would say it’s ok. Keep it all in the family, so to speak.

    Another thing you could do is, study technique, scene study, have an acting coach, take a class that helps you break down text for audition (all based in one technique and I wouldn’t take any more of those all at the same time than you can handle) and at the same time take an on-camera commercial class or a day-time or prime-time primer class or a television hosting or industrial class or an improvisation class as they are all specialty classes that shouldn’t interfere with or confuse you with your technique.

    Lastly, if you tell your teachers that you are taking other classes, you might find a teacher that doesn’t like that and another who thinks it’s ok. So be ready for that.

    Here are some tips about choosing the right school. (same link as the one above.)

    I hope that helps and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have other questions.

    Tony

Question: I Really Need To Find An Agent, But I Don’t Know How. Can You Help?

Answer: Here’s How To Get A Talent Agent: Step By Step

If you have already started training and have at least that
to put on your résumé, then this is what I recommend with regard to how to get a talent agent. This information you will read below is based on what I was coached to do three years ago. I actually did it and it worked! In this way I got two agents and a personal manager in a short period of time. In addition, using this method, I also got casting directors and production companies to call me directly to come in and audition or to book me for jobs directly.

1) Try and figure out what your type is. If you don’t know, take
a stab at it. Are you the tough guy, the nerd at school, the super
intelligent kid, the bully, the gang member, the super stud, the
jock, the class clown, a comedic type? What kind are you? A rapper?
Casting directors and agents need to know that. Movie executive? A lawyer?
If you don’t know, ask a lot of people. Take a poll and try to narrow it
down. Ask the question: “If you were to see me in a film or in a
television series, what role do you think I would be best for?”
See what people say.

2) Find a couple of monologues that speak to that character and learn how to memorize it quickly and effectively and learn how to perform a monologue so that you can avoid common mistakes. If you need help choosing them, then ask your acting teacher, your monologue coach or go to your local Samuel French or Drama Book Shop in New York. Those stores have people who can help you choose a great monologue for you. If you are in New York and are looking for a Monologue coach, I can highly recommend Karen Kohlhaus of the Atlantic Acting School, Brian O’Neil, best-selling author (Acting As A Business: Strategies For Success) or Wendy Ward of the Ward Studio.

3) Carefully choose a headshot photographer and get some headshots that look as much like that character as possible. It must be natural though. Don’t make yourself up.

If you really look like that character, then you shouldn’t have to
do very much. Just wear the right clothes, make sure your expression
says the same thing. For example if you are a comedic type, you
won’t have a blank stare on your face, but not a shot with your mouth
wide open either. Make sure your eyes have a look in them that makes
them pop off the picture.

4) Write a cover letter that communicates that you are that character
and that those are the kinds of roles you would be best for.

5) Have some good training to put on your résumé if you don’t have
any work experience.

6) Find out which casting directors and agents and production companies
and extra casting companies (don’t limit your mailings to only agents)
cast for the kinds of projects that speak to your type.

7) Do a mailing using the method on this page link.

8) Make sure you follow up with everyone you mail to about four weeks later making reference to your first mailing and reiterating the fact that you would like to audition for a casting director or to have a meeting with an agent or production company.

9) To follow up, you should have postcards made up with your headshot on them and your contact information.

10) You should have an answering service/machine for messages on your phone and you should keep your phone with you at all times so as to be able to return phone calls immediately.

11) Follow up every 6-8 weeks reporting progress that you are making in your career or at the very least, classes that you have attended and have finished or whatever. Make sure you have something to report, always using the post cards you had made up. Keep following up. every 6-8 weeks.

Also, see if you can make some of these 17 things happen to help get you work.

You will need to send out at least 150 – 250 of these kinds of mailings and not be surprised if you get around 5% responses back. Don’t be alarmed. It’s normal and if they don’t answer you, it doesn’t mean that they are not interested. It could just mean that they are inundated with mail and haven’t gotten to it. It could also mean that they aren’t interested in that moment. Once I met a producer at a forum one evening. He openly told me that he found my work very interesting and that I should keep in touch. I kept in touch every few months with updates on what I had been doing in the way of acting. His office called me in a year later for a job!

Yes my friend, it’s hard work, but if you stick with it, it pays off. I don’t remember if you are under aged or not. If so, just make sure your parents are involved in what you are doing.

Question: I was wondering what traits do actors possess?

Traits that successful actors possess?

Passion/love for acting more than anything else.
A certain degree of talent to start with.
Drive and determination.

Talent: You must have a certain degree of talent as a base.

Business smarts. (most actors don’t realize that
if you want an acting career, you have to learn how
to run your own business. You have a product to
sell and that product is you!

Creativity: to come up with different ways to
promote yourself and get recognition.
Motivation: rejection can be a back breaker if you
are not prepared for it. You also need to keep yourself
motivated each and every day to do what’s necessary
to succeed.

Planning ability: you need to be able to plan for your
success to make sure you stay on track towards
your success.

Knowledge of yourself: You must know yourself inside and out! Many actors
don’t and that is why they make the wrong decisons
about their careers and consequently don’t get a lot
of work.

Vision: You MUST have a clear idea of what kind of career you
want. It’s crucial. Like I said in the page I sent
you to today (I hope you got the e-mail), if you are
specific about what you want, it will be a lot easier to
get it! Wanting to be an actor in itself is not specific
enough!

All these things are in my book Acting Career Start-Up.
The website has a lot of information on it that can help
an actor be successful. The book will teach you how
to apply those things and to optimize your efforts.
It will give you a personalized plan by the time you
finish it.

Oh! It helps if you have enough money coming in from
a passive or residual stream of income, that will allow
you the flexibility to focus as much as possible on
your career.

I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any
more questions. I’ll do my best to be quicker at answering them.

Tony

Question: I wanna be an actor….

Two different companies offered to represent me, but they both told me I had to pay for it though. One company told me the cost was $1,200 and the other charges $600. What do you think I should do?

Answer:

You shouldn’t be paying anything. People like that run businesses and prey off of people like you. They tell you what you want to hear and suck you in that way.

Usually what happens in cases like this is, the person who asks the question will receive answers; good answers telling them not to do it as I am telling you now and as Theatredoc told you. Then, because that’s not what they want to hear, they continue to ask around until they find enough people who tell them that it’ìs ok to do it. Then, they pay the money and some months down the road, they realize that it was a bad investment and that the company that discovered them isn’t really doing anything for them.

Listen. I might be wrong about this company. In fact, I don’t even know which companies you are talking about, but my experience tells me that anyone who charges you to represent you is to be kept at a distance.

If you just can’t stay away, go back and ask a lot of questions about what you will get for all this money.
Ask specific questions about how many auditions you will be sent out on, how they will train you, how many training sessions, what kind of training will it be, which acting methods, if they will train you to go on auditions and again, how and how many sessions, how long will each session last, what will you learn, who are their other clients, ask if they have any success stories and if you can talk to those people, how long it took those people to get work, what kind of preparation they had before they came to that company, ask how they see you and your potential as an actress, who are the agencies they work with, who are the casting directors they work with and what kinds of projects have they casted, what kinds of auditions will you be sent on and how frequently can you expect to audition each week, also tell them that you know of actors who have told you that you shouldn’t pay for this type of service and that they told you that it isn’t normal practice (see how they respond to that) and…and…and..

Then ask the BIG QUESTION: Ask them if they will put down in writing in contract form that you will guarantee some of the things you expect from them. Talk it over with your parents and be prepared the next time you go in. I can also imagine that they will tell you that you can try your luck to get an agent, but without knowing the right people, you will have difficulty and that they can help you more than anyone right now.

My bet is that they will be a little perturbed that you ask all the questions and that they will hand you some story about why they can’t put it in writing and tell you something to make you feel pressured to sign with them and pay the money. They are more than likely very experienced at this type of negotiation.

My suggestion is to build your base first. Go to school for acting and bone up on how the industry works. I can offer you my website for new and aspiring actors for starters. Begin with this page and go from there. I think you will learn a lot. It will even explain how to get representation without having to pay for it.

Tony

p.s. Good luck!

Question: I was dropped by my agent…what do I do now???

“Im totally heart broken. After all the hard work and effort that I put into trying my best I later call my agent and he tells me that maybe I should find a smaller agency. He hasn’t been able to put 100% in my career and prety much in a nutshell they are giving me the boot. After 7 years of work..Ive done tons of commercials and at least 7 feature films then later I’m told that he has his mind on a thousand different things…mainly not me. I on the verge of suicide. What can I do?”

Answer:

When I used to work in the corporate world, when employees decided to leave the company, we always had what we called an exit interview. The reason was to try and understand WHY the person decided to leave.

In this case, I would be trying really hard to find out exactly why they decided to terminate me. There is a reason and you have a right to know what it is! Whether they want to tell you or not is a different story.

Knowing that will help you grow.
Another thing I would have been doing is keeping track of all the projects I got booked on vs. the number of times I was actually sent out on auditions. I keep track of all my auditions, submission, etc. Why? Because the numbers don’t lie. It gives you a great base to analyze your efforts and see what’s wrong and where to go to fix it.

You talked about the tons of commercials and the 7 feature films. Analyze those numbers and break them down over the entire 7 year period. How many jobs did you actually book per week, per month, per year and what kinds of projects were they? Was there any trend in the amount of commercials and films that you booked, say at the beginning of that seven-year period? What was the trend of your bookings in the last two years? Was it on the rise or on the decline. And whatever the answer to that question is, you can always ask yourself another question: Why? If you don’t know the answer to that question then you could stand to pay a little closer attention to your career.

There is always a reason. And given the fact that agents are in the business to make money. If you had been making money for them, they would never have terminated you. It just doesn’t make good business sense. What other reason could there possibly be? Did they acquire other actors that were performing better than you, meaning were there others that had a better audition to booking ratio than you? Was your ratio on the decline? There is always a reason. Find out what it was before you go on. Do you have a particular type that is no longer requested often? How is your versatility as an actor? Can you play different roles and does your agent know that? Or are you always seen in the same way and called in for the same kinds of roles. If you are more versatile, you will get called in more?

So, whatever the case is, learn from this experience. Maybe your booking rate, even though it was good, wasn’t’ as good as the other top actors they represent.

The fact is, I’m speculating. If I were you, I would try and find out as much as possible from your agent.

Don’t call him/her to talk about it on the phone, ask for an appointment and tell them that you WOULD LIKE to know the EXACT reasons why you were terminated so that you can grow. If you do it on the phone, you might only get part of the answer, because it is easier for a person not to tell the whole truth on the phone, because they don’t see you. If, on the other hand, you have a face to face conversation, you can see all his/her non-verbal communication and ask appropriate questions when you see that they are not giving you the whole truth. Some people aren’t comfortable being up front with people. In fact MANY people aren’t comfortable with that.

Last thing is, you may or may not like what they tell you, but at least you will know and you can learn from that.
Do the interview if you can. It’s important. They might not grant it to you, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know. No matter what happens, let this be a lesson to you. Always keep in constant contact with your agent (the way that they prefer) and try to build a relationship over time, so that you know as much as possible about where you stand. This might be easier with some agents vs. others, but that should be your goal.

After that, don’t fret. Rejection is part of the game and because of it, many actors either get stronger or they fade out. I would like to think that because of this experience, you would get stronger and persevere! If you were successful once, you can be so again!

You’ll find another agent. You have a lot going for you and you will be successful. Have a look at this page link and see what I would do if I were in your situation. This strategy has worked before for me and I have no doubt that it will work again should I need it. It might work for you too.

Just one more thing. Make a habit of using post-cards with your headshot on it (if you are not already doing so) to say thank you to casting directors for having you in to audition. Also use them to communicate with casting directors, agents and production companies to communicate what you have been doing, ie. jobs that you’ve booked and even CLOSE CALLS, meaning call-backs even if you didn’t get the job. Those are interesting pieces of information for casting directors and agents to hear. You’ll see that they might start calling you directly.

Hope this helps. Keep your head up!
Good luck!

Tony