My most recent sign is a woman in her early 30s named Laura. When she was younger, Laura was a series regular on a show that ran for three seasons. Then she had some medical problems that knocked her off the radar. When Laura came back, no one cared, including her old agent, who dropped her as a client. (I know!) She ended up stuck at a crappy little company that couldn't do anything for her. And that's when Laura came to my attention. How? A casting assistant called me. He explained that they're friends and he asked if I would meet her as a favor. Naturally, I said yes. Favors are what keep the wheels greased in this business. Long story short, Laura and I hit it off, and I'm proud to say she's my brand-new client.
My second story is about a young actor named Travis. He's 21, fresh off the bus from a small town I can't find on Google Earth. His training is strictly college and he's got no credits. All he has is raw talent. And he's got a lot of it. How did we cross paths? One of my clients referred him. Chuck, who happens to be much older, ran into Travis at the L.A. Fringe Festival. They got to talking, and Chuck took an instant liking to him. I should also mention that Chuck makes a lot of money for my company. So when he called to make the referral, I agreed to take the meeting. Travis made a great impression, and after a somewhat longer process, I ended up signing him as a client.
Do you see the common thread in those two stories? Both actors were referred to me by someone I trust. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Referrals are golden in this business.
The third actor had no referral. I met her at one of those "pay to perform" showcases that so many of you dislike. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of them either. Most of the actors I meet at those places don't have much talent or they're past their expiration dates. But the Lord hates idle hands, so I decided to attend one on a night when I had nothing else going on. I sat there with a smile pasted on my face, watching scene after scene tank, hoping I hadn't forgotten to set my DVR to record "Louie." And then a girl named Maria got up. She was exactly what every agent wants: a hot young Latina. I glanced at her résumé. A few co-stars and some decent training, not much else. Maria was at the point where she could make the jump to guest-star work, but did she have the goods? I crossed my fingers and watched as the scene started. Her scene partner sucked, but Maria was good—real good. She was making strong choices, taking chances. A single tear rolled down my cheek. I knew she'd be my client by the end of the week.
There are a lot of lessons to be learned here. Put your acting on display, make fans, and create a support group that will speak on your behalf. But most of all, you need to have talent. That's what it always comes down to. That's what gets you signed.