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Secret Agent Man

Let Your Agent Know When You're Sick or Unavailable

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Let Your Agent Know When You're Sick or Unavailable
Photo Source: Jonathan Bartlett

It never fails.

A breakdown crosses my desk with a role that’s perfect for one of my clients. Excited, I make the submission but that’s not enough. I have to follow up with an email. An hour later, the casting director hasn’t responded, so I tell my assistant to get her on the phone. But my timing’s off. She’s in a session so he has to leave a message. And round and round we go till the two of us finally connect. At this point, I give her the perfect pitch, explaining in great detail why she needs to see my client. She agrees. The audition is set. Mission accomplished.

Then I call my client. I’m as excited as Carrie on prom night. But when he answers the phone, I can tell right away there’s something wrong. He sounds hoarse, like a man who’s been in bed all day. I can feel my gut tighten. It turns out the guy’s sicker than a dog, and there’s no way he can make the audition.

Frustrated, I ask my assistant to check if they’re seeing people the following day, but they’re not. There’s just one session, so all my effort was for nothing. This isn’t the first time I’ve blown an opportunity because a client was sick, and it won’t be the last. Most actors are human beings, and like it or not, human beings get sick. So why am I even bothering to write a column about this?

Here’s the thing. We’re on the same team. That means you have to share information with me. If you’re planning to go out of town, you have to let my office know you’re not going to be available for a few days. That way, I won’t waste my time submitting and pitching you for auditions you’re never going to make.

That goes double when you’re sick. Actors never, ever book out when they’re not feeling well. Why is that? I once cornered a client about this, and he confessed he was scared I’d stop working for him if he was sick. I told him that didn’t make sense! “Why would you want me to work for you when you’re not able to work?” The poor guy just stared back at me like a puppy trying to understand the words coming out his master’s mouth.

Do yourself a favor. If you wake up with that feeling of impending doom running through your bowels, please give your agent a call right away and let him know you’re getting sick. Explain you don’t want him wasting his time. Then check in again the following day. Trust me. Agents appreciate this sort of thing. And who knows? Being a responsible client might create some positive energy for you.

And for God’s sake, don’t even think about lying to me about being sick. You should never accept an audition if you just spent 10 minutes throwing up in your bathroom. Walking into someone else’s office when you’re contagious is a horrible, selfish thing to do. Granted, some casting directors can use a good smack in the head, but showering them with germs seems a bit extreme.

On the same point, auditioning when you’re not at your best isn’t a very smart move. You’ll probably blow it, and that will make my job 10 times harder the next time I try to get you into that room.

The bottom line here is, it doesn’t matter if you’re taking a vacation or if you’re stuck in bed with mucus issues. I need to know you’re not available. It’s your responsibility to book out because there’s nothing more frustrating than having my time wasted. Oh, wait. There is something worse. Wasting a casting director’s time is just as bad.

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