“Who’s your agent?”
This is arguably the single most passive-aggressive question an actor can throw at another actor. Unless you are close friends and you’re talking privately, this shit is straight up challenging someone to a pissing contest, right then and there.
Possible answers to this question:
“No.” “Not officially.” “I just dropped my agent and I’m looking for another.” Etc.
[Translation: Fuck you, you bitch. Why did you ask me that question?]
“Yes, I’m with ___________ and you?”
[Translation: Yeah motherfucker, let’s dance.]
There’s no point lying either. A simple Google search on your phone is enough to determine whether you’re full of shit or not. It’s that brutal.
An agent is a sign of legitimacy. This isn’t just a status thing, this is a question of if you get seen. Yes, there are auditions where the casting director will look at all the eligible people that apply, but the vast majority of castings happen in networks behind closed doors, doors that you can only get into if you have an agent.
Now, up to this point in the story I knew all of this but I had exactly zero leads in how to get an agent. It was as if there’s some mystical barrier that you just got through. Cold calling and sending out headshots and resumes sounds just as rewarding as you think it is, it’s just rejection after rejection. Sincerely speaking, I couldn’t even fathom how to fucking get an interview, much less an actual signed contract.
Then again, an email from out of the blue:
…I am the Talent Scout and Development Director…I am reaching out to you because we noticed your profile on Casting Networks and you are listed as “No Representation” and we LOVED your headshot…”
At that point my Spidey-senses went haywire. There are countless horror stories in the industry about agents and managers who try to scam you knowing that actors are desperate for representation. On the other hand, this would be a chance to acquire and piece of the puzzle that I would need. I proceeded with caution, assembling a headshot, a cover letter, and a resume. I thanked the powers that be that I had booked a principal gig prior to this email so that I could at least have something listed of note on my resume. I sent it out and anxiously awaited their response. It was early April and at four months had passed since I made the switch, would I possibly be that lucky?
I got a response, and there was a call scheduled. In addition, my agent-to-be sent out the contract. I can’t tell you how many times I read over that thing and scrutinized every line. It was legitimate and the biggest thing was that the agency didn’t ask for any money upfront, the largest red flag of any agent scam. During the call I brought up every question I had in the contract and it was answered both honestly and directly. Feeling confident and assured, pen was put to paper (well, digitally) and I was signed.
In January, I had no experience. After three months, I had booked a principal gig. After four months, I had signed with an agency. I woke up the day after I signed my papers and tried to see if I felt any different. Try as I could, I didn’t. Yes, there was an incredible boost of confidence that someone out there believed in me, believed that I was marketable, believed that I had a shot, and that’s enormous. But more than that I realized that while external belief was great, it doesn’t change my day-to-day. I had to work hard, grind every waking moment. While an agent would be of enormous help, I wouldn’t be complacent and just wait for something to happen. This would not be my plateau, I would improve not only as an actor, but as a professional in this industry. I was still very much a neophyte and I refused to stop taking risks and failing, because never failing means that you’re never growing.
From that point on I made it a point to always communicate with my agent and stay abreast of what her vision was for me, and what I strove to achieve. I’m under no illusions that I’m their most important client. I’m a tiny fish in a goddamned ocean, but if you don’t make yourself heard, then what’s the point. At this point though, I felt momentum, and hell, I could feel the energy through the grind. When you have the hot hand, play it, and play I did.
May and June of course would suck, because nothing goes as planned.