Actors who are just starting out spend most of their time desperately trying to get a meeting with someone like me. They believe signing with the right agent is the first step to a successful career. Granted, there's some truth to that, but here's the thing: Most actors don't know how to behave or what to expect once they're actually in my office. So let me take you through the entire process, from my cynical point of view.
The first thing you have to understand is that Einstein was wrong. Time is not relative. If our meeting's at four, I expect you to arrive about five minutes early. That gives you enough time to use the bathroom and say your prayers. If you're late, I will hold it against you. And I don't give a damn about excuses. You can save those for Judgment Day.
Once you arrive, my assistant will send me an instant message and I'll come out to meet you. At this point, first impressions are everything. I expect you to look up, say hello, and shake my hand. If I have to wait for your attention because you're busy sending a text, I can pretty much guarantee you're about to have a bad day.
Most meetings take about 15 minutes, and those 900 seconds begin when you walk into my office and sit down. At this point, I'll probably ask for a picture and résumé. The correct response is to hand me your picture and résumé. It would be a mistake to tell me you forgot to bring one. It would be an even bigger mistake to ask me to look up your credits online.
Now it's go time, and you have to hold your own in a conversation with someone who talks for a living. This shouldn't be hard. After all, you're an actor. You should be comfortable with language. A meeting with an agent is an opportunity to shine. So don't be shy about showing off that winning personality your mom used to brag about when she was playing bridge with the neighbors.
It's also important for you to come across relaxed, like you're an old pro at taking meetings. Yes, I know it's natural to be a little bit nervous, but you have to keep that in check. Anxious actors never get signed. I have to believe you're ready to interact with industry professionals, because if we end up working together, you're going to be meeting quite a few of them.
Now let's get into the nuts and bolts of a successful agent meeting. The number one trap you want to avoid is an interview-style encounter where I ask questions and you give answers. That's boring. The trick is to get into a conversation with me, a natural give-and-take where we get to know each other as people. If you can pull that off, then you're halfway home.
Also, make sure you have a few stories loaded in case you need them. If you just moved to L.A. from New York and I ask how it feels to be here, you can't just respond that it's nice. Nobody cares about nice. I want to hear your unique perspective on the city. That's how I get to know you as a person.
As the meeting starts to wind down, I'll probably ask if you have any questions. That's a cue that I need to get back to work, so choose your words wisely. Don't drag out this part of the meeting. You should have a few specific questions I can address before we part ways.
And that's all she wrote, folks. Learning how to take a meeting is an art form, and if you can master the process, you'll double your chances of becoming a successful actor.