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Secret Agent Man

Why Actors Judge Their Agents Too Harshly

Why Actors Judge Their Agents Too Harshly
Photo Source: Steve Weigl

The time has come to put myself in the line of fire. I asked the actors on our message board to post their biggest complaints about their agents so I could defend my brothers and sisters. These are three that caught my eye.

“I dislike agents who rely too heavily on typing. A couple of years ago I freelanced with an agent who typed me at our first meeting as the ‘sweet, fresh-faced girl next door.’ Later on I got to audition (through my personal connection with a CD) for the role of a drug addict in a gritty drama. I called the agent to inform him. He couldn’t believe I was asked to audition for such an intense role. Well, I got to the final callbacks, and the CD called the agent raving about me. The agent was pleasantly surprised. But at that point, I was turned off. I chose not to sign with him.”

My God, your agent is a monster! I can’t believe he had the audacity to think of you as one of the most popular types in the world of casting. Let’s hope he burns in hell.

Now let me explain why you’re a shortsighted idiot. Agents always type actors when they begin working together. It’s called a starting-off point. Range is something that reveals itself over time.

In your case, you demonstrated the ability to transcend type. That’s wonderful. Your agent must’ve been thrilled. I’m sure he started to see unlimited potential in you and what did you do? You left. Nice.  

“I think one thing that can be very frustrating is when your agent sends you out for things you don’t feel you’re right for. My best example is being sent to a session where the sign read ‘woman in her 40s’ when I clearly play 30s.”

Yikes! It sounds like someone is in denial. There’s nothing sadder than an aging actor who insists on playing younger. But let’s put aside her personal demons so we can address the bigger picture.

The first actor complains that her agent was limiting her. The second actor is upset that her agent doesn’t limit her. Do you see why clients make agents crazy?

It’s my job to be creative when I’m chasing down auditions. For the sake of argument, let’s say the second actor is right. She plays mid- to late-30s and would never pass for older. So what? If the character description says 40s, I might try to get her in anyway.  

When I’m working on a breakdown, I always ask myself if the part can be younger or older or black or Asian or an actor with an accent. It’s called thinking outside the box, and that’s a good thing. It creates more opportunities for my clients.

“You agents need to take a deep breath and remind yourselves of who works for whom. It was easy for me to fire my first agent and jump to a bigger agency the day our contract ran out. It would have also been easy for me to punch him in the face, even though he did a great job of getting me auditions. Why? I understood he was very busy, and I did my best to be respectful of his time by only calling when I really needed to talk to him about something. Yet he was dismissive to the point of being rude when I did call.”

What a sad little man. He probably sits at home with his shorts around his ankles, fantasizing about hitting people in the face. And I love that he admits his agent did a great job of getting him auditions. Can you imagine how this actor would respond if that weren’t the case?

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