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Secret Agent Man

Do Actors Really Ask the Dumbest Questions?

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Do Actors Really Ask the Dumbest Questions?
Photo Source: Steve Weigl

I tend to exaggerate. That’s my nature. Like just the other night, I was in a bar complaining that actors ask the dumbest questions I’ve ever heard. But is that really true? I decided to find out by keeping a log of all the stupid questions thrown my way by clueless actors over a 30-day period. Here are the results:

“So are you going to sign me?”
This is what inexperienced actors always say at the end of a meeting. It’s a needy question, and it sends a clear signal that you’re still green and need to ripen. 

I would also be concerned that if we did end up working together, you might hit casting directors with similar questions after every audition. “So did you like me?” “Am I getting a callback?” “Are you my friend?” Cue the sound of a casting director barfing and then calling me to complain.

“You don’t remember me, do you?”
I get this passive-aggressive question all the time, and my answer is always no. You have to remember that I meet a ton of actors every year. There’s no way I can remember every single one. 

And in all honesty, I believe this question is a subtle power play where you think you have something over me. Trust me, you don’t. You’ve got nothing. I will feel absolutely zero guilt over not recognizing your stupid face. So go away and find your validation somewhere else.   

“Do you think I’ll have any auditions soon?”
This one comes from clients who believe agents have mystical powers that allow us to peer into the future. Sadly, I have no such powers. I don’t even own a crystal ball. So please don’t ask questions I can’t possibly answer.

The truth is, every day brings a new opportunity. So be open to that, and we’ll see how it all plays out. 

“Did you get the submission I sent a few weeks ago?”
Do you really expect me to remember the details of every submission that comes across my desk? The truth is I would’ve contacted you if I was interested, so there’s no point in following up. (And I guarantee no actor in the history of time has ever received a positive response to this question.)

“Do you like working here?”
This one comes up a lot during meetings in my office. In the land of dumb questions, it might be the dumbest of them all. I think the intention is to make a personal connection, but when you think about it, the question is horribly naive.

Let’s say I hate the company where I’m working. It’s a living hell. I’d rather be dead. Now why on earth would I share those feelings with a stranger when my boss is a few doors down?  

“Do you like being an agent?”
This is a variation on the last question. It tends to come up at workshops during the Q&A session, and I never know how to respond. Do actors expect me to have a moment of clarity where I drop to my knees and denounce my chosen profession? Am I supposed to proclaim that I’m leaving the entertainment industry so I can start a new life helping the homeless people who live in the slums of Mumbai? 

There’s nothing wrong with asking an agent a personal question, but you have to be smart if you want an honest answer. “What’s the best part of being an agent?” is a more effective way of phrasing the same question. 

The best way to get information is to ask for it. That’s the nature of the business. But I would argue that you need to choose your words carefully if you want industry types to respect you. It’s like Voltaire used to say: “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” 

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