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Secret Agent Man

My Equation for Success

My Equation for Success
Agents want you to believe they can predict an actor's future, but the truth is, we're just making it up as we go. Over the years, I've signed several people who I thought would turn into major moneymakers. Some did. Some didn't. That's just the way it is. None of us can say with absolute certainty that a client is going to become successful. It's just not possible.

An acting career is a high-stakes gamble where success isn't always based on skill. But is there a way to maximize your odds? Is there an equation that can quantify what it takes to become a successful actor?  You wouldn't think so, but thanks to copious amounts of alcohol, I've come up with one that works beautifully. It's not as elegant as Einstein's unified field theory, but it's pretty darn good: Talent plus Persistence plus Luck equals Success  (T2 + P + L = S).

It's simple and honest. Understanding this equation will make your life as an actor much easier. So let's break it down:

1. Talent. There's no getting around it. You need to be talented. It doesn't matter if you're as handsome as Brad Pitt or as beautiful as Angelina Jolie. If you don't have any talent, your looks will only get you so far. That's why I insist all my new clients stay in class. Jon Voight said it best: "I was a guy who needed to go to class, because I had some raw talent that I thought was identifiable, when I finally made a decision to be an actor. And yet I wanted to learn how to really do the stuff. You know, how do I get to be a serious actor?"

Now here's the thing: In my equation, the word "talent" doesn't just apply to acting. It also covers business sense. That's why the T is squared. Acting ability and business sense are flip sides of the same coin. In a perfect world, being talented would be enough, but when you're dealing with the odds in this industry, you must know how to network, make contacts, and promote yourself.

2. Persistence. The reality of this industry is that there are more actors than opportunities. So naturally, there's going to be some attrition. Even the most talented performers will hit a wall after several years of frustration. That's the point they give up and change careers. Many move to Portland. 

Josh Holloway is an excellent example of an actor who stuck with it till the last possible moment and then found himself rewarded for his persistence. If you look up his résumé on IMDb, you'll see the guy didn't work much before 2004. As a matter of fact, Josh was getting ready to call it a day and pursue a career in real estate. Then he decided to give it one last hurrah when his agent called with an audition for a pilot called "Lost." The rest is history.   

3. Luck. This one's the fly in the ointment, because either you have it or you don't. It's been my experience that some people are just born lucky. They're the ones who always win raffles. I often throw heavy objects at them. 

As a man who spends way too much time at Santa Anita, I can only tell you this. Luck is real. It's tangible. The trick is to be ready when Lady Luck decides to spend some time with you. That means working real hard on the first part of this equation.

Look, there are no guarantees in this business, especially when you're on the creative side, but I honestly believe this equation is a step in the right direction. I know it's worked well for me and several of my clients. That's why I'm expecting a call from Ari Emanuel any day now. That's right, any day now…

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