How to Know If You Have the Right Representation

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Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

Nobody enters a professional relationship with the assumption it will fail. But sometimes, that’s exactly what happens.

Remember the glorious day you signed with your current agent? You were so happy. And you shared that good news with everyone. Your family, your friends, your dry cleaner—everyone. But now it’s been a year, and the shine has faded. Your spider-sense is tingling, something doesn’t feel right, and you’re starting to wonder if it’s time to make a change. To leave, or not to leave? That is the question.

READ: What You Need to Know About Representation Post-Pilot Season

Firing your agent is a big step. When and why should you do it? Here are some questions that will help you decide:

  1. How long does it take for your agent to return your call or email? I’ve always made it a practice never to leave my office until I’ve gotten back to all my clients, even the ones who rub me the wrong way. Why? Because I’m a professional and that’s how I roll. What about your reps? How do they roll?
  2. Do you have a closer relationship with your agent’s assistant than you do with your agent? If you answered “yes,” that’s not good. It’s supposed to be the other way around. (Unless the assistant leaves, goes to a bigger company, becomes an agent, and decides to sign you. Then you’re golden.)
  3. Does your agent listen to you? Agents represent a lot of actors who are individuals with specific needs, so you’ll be able to determine soon enough how well they’re actually listening to you. For example, did you tell your agent that you don’t want to audition for no-name co-stars anymore? And wait, what’s that in your inbox? Oh, my. It’s an audition for a no-name co-star. Did he forget or does he just not care?
  4. When was the last time you spoke to your agent? I mean, really talked to them. It might be time to start packing if the answer is “I don’t remember.”

So, based on this questionnaire, let’s say you’ve decided to fire your agent. Before you pull the trigger, consider your contractual obligations. Remember that agreement you signed when you became a client? (I’m talking about the one you didn’t bother to read.) Well, you might want to track that paperwork down—it’s probably somewhere in the back of your closet. There’s language in there that explains how you can legally break the contract before it expires. And you’re good to go if the expiration date has already faded into the past.

READ: 6 Ways to Find the Best Agent for You

Now, you have another big decision to make: How exactly will you tell the agent you’re leaving? I guess you could use social media to pass along the bad news. Or maybe you could forge a psychic connection that allows you send your rep a mental telegram. But more than likely, it will come down to two choices: phone or email. I’ve been dumped both ways. Professionals call. Cowards email. Looking back, only a handful of actors have had the courage to do it in person, and I admire the stones on all of them.

Welcome to freedom! Now you’re all alone without an agent. Isn’t life grand? I guess I forgot to mention you should probably find new representation before you fire your current agent.

Oops, my bad!

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Secret Agent Man
Secret Agent Man is a Los Angeles–based talent agent and our resident tell-all columnist. Writing anonymously, he dishes out the candid and honest industry insight all actors need to hear.
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