OK, so you finally get that call from the boutique agency on your wish list asking you to come in for an interview with your dream agent. Don't blow it! Be prepared! Here are three things to remember for the interview.
1. Go for the gold in your personal presentation! It’s not the time for sloppy jeans, sweats, or hipster thrift shop clothes (unless that is your type). Dress with confidence like a movie star so that's how they remember you. (Ladies, wear make-up.) I recently met an actor with a gorgeous headshot. She had red hair, a beautiful face, and a movie star quality, but she arrived for an interview with no make-up and wearing dowdy clothes because her roommate had told her to go "clean,” i.e. unmade-up and casual. If I were a casting director, I would never call her again! She would have lost dozens of potential jobs from following that stupid misinformation! So, look fabulous! You are there to impress and show your future agent how you would look if they submitted you for a major role. Be camera-ready!
2. Discuss your marketability, your uniqueness, and how passionate you are about your career. They can read your credits on your resume, your skills, hobbies, and teachers, but what they need to know is how to market you. How are they going to make that paltry 10 percent commission for all the work they do to before you book a job? Tell them! Make it easy. Even if you are not making a lot currently as an actor, talk about the future, project your goals and dreams. Or talk about your most recent successful call-back – something that says you are a winner and love what you do! After all, you are there to work together for your mutual successful future not your past.
We've interviewed dozens of agents in our Industry Teleseminars and they almost all said the same thing. Strong credits and training naturally help but they don't always care if you have an MFA. They're going on their own instincts. Do you have a unique personality, look, or quality? Most all overlook lack of experience in favor of the latter so go prepared but be honest, sincere, and have fun! If you're afraid to talk to them, how do you think you'll fare talking to a tough casting director, a major film director or producer? They need to see your personality, persistence, enthusiasm, and passion! Can you handle this career? If yes, then they can work with you – forget about the credits and training. That's not the focus. It's about you.
3. Connect. Be yourself. Let your personality come through. During the interview, if the conversation is going dry and you've run out of things to say about your ideal roles and goals, look around the room. Get in touch. Stay in the moment. Is there anything that attracts your attention? Do you have anything in common with this person? And what are you interested in? Tell them.
When I was interviewing with a top agent at William Morris, I had an amazing experience. She had seen me perform the evening before in a Broadway theater – a one-night, special premiere performance of a playwright's new work. She had my resume and a demo reel sitting on her desk. Obviously she had looked at them. Her assistant called me in for an interview. However, we sat there for a few minutes in silence, and I grew more and more panicked. What to say? What to do? How to get her on my team, excited about representing me? I looked around and saw a large painting behind her on the wall. “Is that a Modigliani?” I asked? “It's beautiful and original?” Suddenly her face lit up. “Yes, it is my favorite painting. My father gave it to me.”
I saw a photograph on her desk. She was standing in a field. “Is that a cornfield? On your farm in Connecticut?” (I guessed but I was accurate). “Yes! How did you know?” she responded.
“I spent my summers in Ohio on a farm,” I replied. “That's August yellow corn not Spring white corn, isn't it? I loved spending August on the farm.” She laughed. “So do I! No one knows about corn. Not in Manhattan.”
We talked about farms and vegetables and art and Picasso versus Matisse and colors, sunlight and growing seasons. We were laughing when she yelled, "Shirley, bring the contracts." And I got signed to one of my best and favorite agents. It wasn't about my performance, resume, or demo reel. It was about my personality and getting along with her. She could work with me and did.
Within 24 hours, I was submitted for, auditioned, and got cast by another famous Broadway director (her client) in a Broadway revival – the power of a top agent and talking about cornfields!
As the founder and executive director of The Actors's Market, Gwyn Gilliss provides free monthly info seminars, agent/casting director interview tele-seminars, weekly marketing tips, as well as many coaching programs to help actors break into both the NY and L.A. industries. Gwyn has tremendous success with her private career coaching clients. More than 90 percent get agent representation launching their careers with performances in feature films, Broadway productions, and Emmy-award-winning primetime TV series, such as "The Good Wife," "White Collar," "Grey's Anatomy," "NCIS," "House," "Law & Order," "30 Rock," "Criminal Minds."
Email her to request a free 15-minute career session: firstname.lastname@example.org.