On Aug. 4, Back Stage published its annual List Issue. I found it fascinating. There was information there about networking and résumés and monologues and that sort of thing. I actually found myself taking notes. But then my blood froze. There was a list titled "Pet Peeves That Actors Have About Their Agents and Managers." My gut said to ignore it. I was in a rare good mood that day and I didn't want anything to set me off. But that's not my nature. So I braced myself and jumped right in.
When I was done reading, I realized there's a major disconnect between how actors see an agent's behavior and the reality behind our actions. Granted, there are plenty of bad eggs in this business, but most of us are just trying to make a living. We do that by dealing with insecure people who don't understand the forces that guide their futures. So let's take a closer look at some of the misguided complaints that appeared on that list.
Henning Fischer is unhappy because his agent acts put-upon when he contacts her: "When I call my agent and I get her on the phone, it always seems like I am bothering her and she has more important things to do."
Uh, yes. She definitely has more important (and more-important) things to do. And that's a good thing. Show me an agent who has all day to chat with clients and I'll show you an agent who isn't doing her job. (And I could be wrong, but I'm willing to bet that Fischer calls his agent way too often.)
The writer of the piece, Simi Horwitz, feels it's "an expression of disregard" when agents don't respond to messages left on their Facebook pages. I had to laugh at that one. I don't care if you're a client or an actor seeking representation; it's highly unprofessional to approach agents on Facebook. I don't allow clients to friend me, and I never, ever respond to actors I don't know.
An unidentified New York actor whines that agents "don't understand that actors are chameleons, and they don't take risks on behalf of their actors even though they say otherwise."
Most actors, despite all their training and hard work, aren't chameleons. They're limited by type, especially when they're starting out. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Type can be exploited. But sorry, not everyone can be the next Christian Bale or Ed Norton. Don't believe me? Fine. Take a look around your next acting class and then you tell me everyone there is a chameleon.
Also, this unidentified New York actor falsely believes that his reps are holding him back by not taking risks. Let's consider that statement from a different perspective. Is it possible the agents are trying their best to get him seen for all kinds of roles but it's the casting directors who are saying no?
Some actors actually have the nerve to complain about agents calling to verbally abuse them if they're unable to attend an audition. Are you kidding me? It's an actor's job to be available. If you don't take your career seriously, why should I?
Others who contributed to the list are upset that their agents make mistakes. Welcome to the real world, kiddies. People make mistakes. That's life. So unless you're perfect, get over yourself and move on.
I could go on, but there's a bigger point that needs to be made. Just because you had a bad experience with your agent doesn't mean that all actors have bad experiences with their agents. That's called false logic. Every actor and every agent is a human being with unique qualities that make him or her an individual. The tough part is finding the perfect match. But when you do find "the one," I promise you won't have time to contribute to a whiny, misinformed list like this one.