Let me start off by saying I've never signed an actor without expecting the relationship to work out. If I decide to represent you, I expect you to work and generate money. I also expect I'll be able to bring you plenty of opportunities. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. This is why every agency I know evaluates its list at least twice a year to see who can stay and who should go. These aren't fun meetings, but they're absolutely necessary. Agents can't keep everyone around forever. We need to make room for new clients. So let's go over some of the main reasons an agent decides to stop working with an actor.
1) Most clients get dropped because they're not booking work or showing progress. In other words, if an actor has been with us for more than a year without booking one single job, that's a definite concern, though it doesn't make him or her an automatic drop. At that point, we'll print out a list of all the auditions the actor's been on since we started working together. Then we'll ask: What's the callback ratio? Is he or she getting good feedback? Are casting directors bringing the actor in more than once? These are all crucial concerns. So even if a client isn't making money for us, we'll keep him or her around if there's some definite progress. If there isn't, then it's time to show the client the door.
2) Bad behavior is another reason actors get dropped by their agency. If a client is always late for auditions, takes forever to return calls, or goes out of town without telling us, there's a good chance it's time for us to part ways. Agents work hard to make a living, and we expect our clients to work harder. We also expect them to behave in a professional manner, because what they do reflects on us.
3) It kills me to say this, but sometimes it's our fault. Agents sign actors expecting we'll be able to keep them busy with auditions and meetings, but it doesn't always work out that way. So if we feel that after a year we haven't done our job well, then we'll drop the client—which, when you think about it, is probably the best thing for the actor.
4) Finally, some clients get dropped because their agents just don't like them. This happens more often than you'd think. A lot of people fall into the "Life is too short" category. Actors tend to be on their best behavior during our initial meeting, but they always show their true colors over the course of a year, especially during difficult times. I can't stand dealing with angry, negative people who flip out when they should be keeping their cool. And if they're not generating real money, why keep them around?
Once the decision is made to say goodbye, a drop call is placed to the client. These rarely go well. Some actors get angry, others start crying, and a few get extremely abusive. I never take any of that personally, because the actor just had his or her world turned upside down. Change can be rough, especially when it's forced on you.
But getting dropped isn't the end of the world. You're just ending one chapter in your professional life and getting ready to start another. So take some time to deal with your feelings, then regroup and focus on finding new representation. The odds are things will go much better the second time around.