Believe it or not, there was a time when there was a whole middle class of actors. A time when unknown actors could be discovered by agents willing to develop them, and they would work their way up the Hollywood ladder, increasing their quote every time they got a job. As in any other industry, with more experience would come more money and more opportunities.
I’ve had lots of conversations with actors and representatives who have been here a while. This industry has been facing the same thing as the rest of the country. We are the 99 percent. The idea of a quote has almost disappeared, and top-tier agencies like CAA seem to have all the power. It is odd that this should be happening when there seem to be more jobs.
Well, it has been explained to me that because there’s so much content with satellite TV and the Internet, everything has been spread more thin. Audiences have more to watch, so advertisers can’t bet that everyone will always be watching the same thing. Productions can’t spend as much because they’re not making as much from advertisers. That trickles down to us, the actors. In a world where A-list stars like Dustin Hoffman and Glenn Close are willing to work on television, why should casting directors take a chance on unknowns like they used to? Some of my actor friends are frustrated that they can get cast on Broadway or book a TV show and still not get a good agent. It’s a new world, people.
So what to do? I’ve long since realized I’m in charge of my own destiny in this business. The new triple threat is the actor-writer-producer. The good news about the modern generation of actors is that we can do it ourselves. For the first time in history, we have access to the kinds of tools that give us the power to put our art out in the world. It’s a different way to “pound the pavement.” People like Lena Dunham (creator of “Girls”) can write and produce a movie for themselves, thus forcing a demand for that voice to be heard. The days of being discovered at a Schwab’s have long since passed. But I don’t mind. I like being in charge of my own destiny. And on that note, pardon me while I go finish my latest screenplay.