Much like a really good first date, sitting down with a new agent can be simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking. Granted your date may appear stunning and very discriminating, and you may feel flat-out privileged to be out with them, but you want to be sure you’re both on the same page. If this relationship is going any place your meeting needs to be a mutually satisfying venture, if you’ll pardon the metaphor.
So, let’s assume you’re fully prepared to arrive at the agent’s front door with up-to-date promotional materials: headshots, resume’, voiceover demos, and professional reels (if you have them). In most cases this is the reason you’ve been invited in, in the first place.
Great. Now what?
Here are 6 things you should know prior to sitting down with a talent agent:
1. Your talent agent “meeting” is an audition. Its important you understand this regardless of how you got in the room, through a friend-of-a-friend, a professional referral, a relative, or all by your lonesome through persistent agency submissions. This is a job interview. You may think it’s a simple ”meet and greet”, or pleasant fact-finding mission on your end, but the agent in front of you is determining whether or not you’re worthy (and savvy enough) to become someone who would represent the best of what the agency provides directors, casting, producers, and production houses. Therefore, this is as much a “chemistry read” as anything, whether the agent has you read a script or two, or not.
2. Be flexible. You may or may not be asked to perform. Just be as prepared to get to know the agent and their needs and wants, as to read a script or two. And don’t be surprised if they’re running 20 minutes to a half hour late and you have to sit there. You want them to be BUSY. That’s a good sign. No point in signing on to an agency that’s barely working.
3. Be someone people honestly want to work with. The agent wants to see how well you carry yourself, professionally, especially when they aren’t there and you’re on a job. What’s your temperament when you’re not acting? Are you personable? Are you thoughtful? And not just to the agent, but to other talent, and the person at the front desk? If you’re impatient or short with others and pour on the syrup with the agent, that doesn’t go unnoticed. Additionally, if you spend the brief time you have with this agent dissing various people, or crabbing about all the things you “hate” about this business, you won’t be using their time (or yours) wisely. And if you only talk about yourself, or just as bad, hardly talking at all, you need to rethink your approach. Offer more than simple one-word responses. No one wants to work that hard to get to know you.
4. If you’re not working, you’re training. This isn’t just a cliché’ reserved for someone else. Just as every professional athlete is found training when not in the game. The very same applies to you as a talent. If you aren’t currently training, better get ye to the nunnery, Ophelia! And be quick about it! Agents want to know you’re reliable. The best litmus test for that is your continued quest to improve your performance, and to maintain your professional chops. This is where so-called “seasoned” talent entirely miss the mark. If the last time you took a class was a couple years ago or worse, nearly a decade ago, it’s highly unlikely you can be counted on to deliver your best at a moments notice. This is elementary to some, yet better than 80% of all talent leave this element entirely out of the equation. Many talent aren’t working as much as they did in the past for this very reason, but they can’t bring themselves to face this simple fact. No one’s diminishing your experience or expertise, just don’t assume there’s nothing left to learn. Proper coaching offers a fresh approach, and helps feed that drive that gives you your competitive edge. Otherwise, it’s likely you’ll expect more from the talent agency than you’re willing to do yourself. That would be a red flag for the agent.
5. The agent isn’t your manager or publicist. Typically, these responsibilities fall to you, the talent. While many agents will try to help and refer you to this demo producer, or that headshot photographer, or even this class or that workshop… you’re expected to arrive ready to work. Agents want to help, but there’s honestly only so much they can do. This is the legwork you’re responsible for. In fact, to be clear, a talent agent has access to work you’re best suited to land, and they have a good working knowledge of what those jobs are worth. This is precisely why they want to meet with you. They want to ensure you’re up to the task, and they’ll likely give you a 6-8 week, if not a 6 to 8 month, trail period.
6. Ask intelligent questions. Easier said than done, especially if you’re nervous. So, be prepared. Determine what sort of work the agency is known for and why you’d honestly be an asset. Determine why you’d be a valued talent to add to their talent roster. Finally, if you determine this is the agency you want to align yourself with, reassure them you’ll do your level best to be a reliable asset to them. And then live up to your word, if not surpass it.
Copyright © 2021 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.
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