My child is stuck in the body of an actor!
Agents with an expiration date;
Eventually will smell fishy and get thrown to the sharks
As some of you know I teach On-Camera TV commercial workshops for young adults which includes a headshot session with photographer Melissa Kolaks Broaddus and a Q & A Session with parents. I have always been open to parents watching the class if it doesn’t make the child feel self-conscious. Well, during this one class, a 7 year-old boy not only welcomed his dad to watch, but also loved it when I asked his dad to play the “father” in a Father Days’ spot!
It doesn’t surprise me that I am now coaching the father! Over the years of teaching, I have seen the continual growth of families wanting to act together as well as more submissions looking for “real families.”
So, I helped this father create a professional resume with very little credits, chose a headshot along with Melissa, wrote a cover letter that was honest and reflected his fun personality and put a list of potential agents together for his submissions.
As soon as he sent off his packages, I received this question from the father.
QUESTIONS: I sent my submissions out on Friday and on Monday I have been asked in for an interview! I am so excited! But, first, I have to fill out this questionnaire, which asks a lot of questions, including if I can show proof of my union membership and if I would be willing to re-shoot my headshots if asked. What are your thoughts?
ACTORS: I have been to the ocean enough to know when it smells fishy!
However, his excitement made me stay positive and enjoy what may be a new ocean breeze coming in; social media changing the way we do business, right?
Yet, my womanly and/or professional instincts couldn’t help but wonder, that was fast, he just sent out his packages on Friday and on Monday is being asked if this certain date and time works for him?
Then I thought back to when I first came to LA. I personally delivered my commercial reel to an agent I really wanted to be with, who happened to turn me down twice before. But, this time, my phone was ringing 45 minutes after I dropped off my submission to set up an interview. So, it’s possible.
Then I had a second thought, why a generic email instead of a personal phone call?
My thoughts went to social media and how rapidly it is changing by the second, it seems. Even though I have always gotten a personal call, maybe this is how new agents are doing business?
Oh yeah, there was one time I didn’t get a personal call, actually not that long ago. An agent emailed back, literally within seconds, after I pressed “send.” As excited as I was, I was skeptical. Busy agents don’t sit waiting for actors to email them? But… maybe my email came in perfect timing? I “instantly” answered his question and waited and waited. I’m still waiting!
For whatever reason, this agent’s name didn’t sit well with me, so I did an Internet search and instantly found pages of actors upset and extremely disappointed with this agent.
This is the plus of social media; we have, at our fingertips, any information we want. And to top it off, actors are very vocal about what agents they love and what agents they don’t. That’s one of the reasons I created the actors’ Facebook page, QUESTIONS & ACTORS, so actors and parents can share green lights as well as red buoys.
The agent that the father submitted to was new and claimed to be a SAG agency. I did a search and couldn’t find anything, except this agent loves to tweet and encourages actors to be part of her Facebook page?
I didn’t know what to think, except, maybe agents are spending more time promoting themselves?
Then there was the questionnaire? Which made me wonder, why would an agent need all these answers before they met you?
The questionnaire was lengthy and asked things like what job you had, when you were available to audition, if you could show proof of a union membership and if you would re-shoot your headshots if asked?
First of all, the father’s cover letter clearly stated that he was new in the business, told the story about his son, the workshop and photo session. His resume, though it looked professional, was honest. He had no union status at the top of his resume where all actors boast this credit the moment they get it. So, they knew he wasn’t a union member.
He also got an address and instructions to the stairs he was to climb that would lead to the orange chairs that awaited him before he would be called in for the interview?
Sadly, I had a vision of all these hopeful actors sitting in cheerful orange chairs, while the shark tossed out bait, patiently waiting to see which fish would bite!
I couldn’t help but think if this agent was getting a “kickback” with a certain photographer? I advised the father to put a question mark where he was being asked if he was willing to take new headshots.
His interview was cancelled because, he was told, they only work with union actors.
All the top agents I have been with commercially take on both union and non-union actors. And even if you chose to go financially-core (which will be an upcoming topic) agents would continue to represent you. So this made absolutely no sense! This was a new agent looking for new commercial talent asking for proof of union membership? By the way, I have never ever had to show proof of my union membership. It takes one call from the agent to the union.
Then, the father found it… after a bit of a search.
A very upset actress recently signed with this agent and after only seven weeks was let go with no explanation! She had only one audition and wondered why she was there because, she felt, they weren’t even looking for her “type.”
Plus, guess what? Yep, she got new headshots and to top it off, hired this agent’s assistant, who she says happened to be a wardrobe consultant, for $150/hour. I am not sure why she hired her assistant and for what?
BUT…NEVER PAY AN AGENT, EVER! OR AN ASSISTANT, EVER!
Agents take a commission only AFTER you book a job.
This actress went on to say that she felt this agent was more interested in sending out Twitter and Facebook messages than representing actors.
Nothing upsets me more when so-called agents take advantage of actors. My advice to this actress would be to call the union and report what happened.
LISTEN to your instincts; they are your best built-in messengers!
And always do a search. If you can’t find anything on the Internet, go to my Facebook page; it was designed exactly for this reason.
With social media, agents that come with an “expiration date,” won’t be able to ride the wave as long as they use to. Actors are learning to be better fishermen and women!
Go to my facebook page, Questions & Actors, click LIKE and start communicating with fellow actors and parents!