You may already have an agent. If so, this post is also for you. Just like the chapter "Agents: Keeping One" from my book you might pick up something new.
When I first began doing Access to Agents the focus was on providing actors new insights on improving techniques for marketing and auditioning. The agent panel was meant as a perk. An additional form of feedback for the actors about their abilities and marketability with agents. Some actors have happily been signed for the first time in their careers. While other actors — believing themselves to be paradigms of representation worthy — were far from being agent ready. Just because you think you can act plus have a headshot and resume doesn't mean that you're agent ready.
Below is a questionnaire which will give insight into your readiness and/or compatibility for an agent. The individual questions are based upon my extensive conversations with agents and behavioral therapists. While none of the following is based on an exact science it may, for some, be enlightening. For others; it may just cause frustration, anger and screaming obscenities at me via your screen.
Because this posting format doesn't allow for technological craftiness with a self-calculating form you'll need the following:
1. Something (like paper & pen or a computer) to record your answers.
2. Basic math skills.
After reading each question, answer immediately without pondering a response. Being true to your gut reaction is the only honest way to do this. When you choose your answer, record the letter chosen per question on whatever device you're keeping score. Ready?
Remember... answer immediately. No pondering. No cheating!
1. A couple is waiting for a table at a crowded restaurant. A party of four – which placed their names with the host after the couple arrived – are seated first. Why did this happen? (Record your answer)
a. The party of four probably paid-off the host to be seated quicker.
b. The host was being rude and/or incompetent.
c. The party of four would make the restaurant more money.
d. The party of two must wait for a table that sat only two people.
2. What is the proper response time by a business to an e-mail inquiry? (Record your answer)
a. Two hours
b. Eight hours
c. Twelve hours
d. Twenty-four hours
3. A waiter took Penny's order then served Penny her salad and appetizer but the waiter's shift ended before bringing out Penny's entrée and dessert. Another server served Penny her entrée and desert. Who gets the tip? (Record your answer)
a. Neither waiter. Management should have had placed Penny at a table with a waiter whose shift would not end in mid-meal.
b. The waiter who took the order and served the first portions of the meal.
c. The waiter who took over for the waiter who departed
d. Both waiters deserve to be tipped equally.
4. Janet had an offer to attend a concert with her best-friend but the tickets were for nose-bleed section seats. Janet also got an offer to attend the same concert with her boss in seats that were front row. What should Janet do? (Record your answer)
a. Take the better seats with the boss, schmooze, and give an excuse to the friend.
b. Accept both offers in case one of the two fell through.
c. Politely decline both offers because if either the boss or friend discovered the mutual offers the situation would not be good for Janet.
d. Accept the offer of the lesser attractive seats.
5. A partner/spouse arrives home several hours later than normal. Their other half is justified with a reaction of: (Record your answer)
6. James has played baseball since he was in grade school and is extremely enthusiastic about the game. He is now on his high school's baseball team. His batting average is .225. It's the last inning of the last game of the season with the score tied. The player who would normally bat next is in the locker room vomiting. The coach has a choice; James or Ronald. Ronald is not as enthusiastic as James is but has a batting average of .275. What should the coach do? (Record your answer)
a. Choose James for his enthusiasm.
b. Talk to both James and Ronald to find out who is the more hungry for the opportunity.
c. Flip a coin. Heads for James. Tails for Ronald.
d. Choose Ronald.
Now time for some arithmetic:
– For each time you answered with the letter "a" give yourself 15 POINTS.
– For each time you answered with the letter "b" give yourself 10 POINTS.
– For each question you answered with the letter "c" give yourself 5 POINTS.
– For each question you answered with the letter "d" give yourself 1 POINT.
Now add them up...
What did you get?
If you got 70–90 points:
You are so not ready to have a healthy relationship with an agent. You lack trust that someone will work on your behalf without constant supervision. Your allegiance is also questionable. Plus you lean towards being an opportunist who believes enthusiasm and networking, over ability, should be the deciding factors in advancing one's career.
If you got 30–69 points:
There are troublesome indicators of insecurity as to whether or not you're capable of giving up some control and allowing others to work for your best interests without your constant need for reassurance. You may also believe that you are sometimes more deserving for being recognized over others who are more qualified.
If you got 6–29 points:
You're agent ready (if talent and marketability against competition truly exists within you and your product).
You're trusting of others to work on your behalf. You don't need constant contact and reassurance. You lean towards the reality of casting that's it's not always you who deserves to be cast; there are many variables as to why someone else got the job including being a better choice than you. You also have a stronger allegiance to relationships than to using people to advance your own agenda.
The scores and your responses are based upon how you react in your life with relationships. If you're not thrilled by the final score you received; don't be pissy with me. You're the one who chose your answers. Review your responses and look in the mirror.
Also, did you answer the questions as exactly stated or did you, like some of my university students who took this test, insert mental variables? What's a mental variable? One aspiring actress not thrilled with what she chose as an answer to the concert question justified her response with an inane argument about a hot dog stand... Excuse me? Concessions were never mentioned in the question.
How The Responses Reflected You:
All of the answer "A" responses (with the exception of question 6) trend towards a personality that is self-involved. Someone who does not see themselves within the world around them but sees the world as it revolves around them. In regard to answering "A" for question six; the respondent chooses not the best, talented person for the situation but gives responsibility to the less qualified. As an actor, one need realize that they cannot be the best choice for every role.
Answers "B" to "C" for all the questions lean towards indecisive and insecure personalities. Confidence in yourself and those who work on your behalf is needed to successfully survive the long journey in both the arts and life.
Answer "D" to all questions lent themselves towards personalities that are universalist. Meaning; they see the world around them, know their place in it as they share space with others and give beyond themselves. The "D" responses also reflect people who are secure within their abilities and can easily trust others.
To truly be agent ready (in NY or LA) an actor must be:
– Honest about both faults and strengths within themselves.
– Have a talent that can successfully compete in the high-caliber Broadway, L.O.R.T. theatrical and LA screen markets.
– Be emotionally mature
Everyone wants something in their life whatever that something is (as in this case an agent). Success at achieving such will not happen unless one is fully prepared and ready. And most of all; completely honest with themselves.
Paul Russell's career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. He is the author of "ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor." For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.