Why Your Agent is Your Friend, Therapist, Authority Figure + More

Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

My client was having a bad day. She had called me from her dressing room, and I could hear the tremble in her voice. The movie was going over budget and over schedule, so the producers were being forced to make some cuts. That meant her favorite scene in the script was toast.

As I walked over to Lisa’s trailer, I started to consider the kind of person waiting for me. She was in her 40s and experienced, not the type who needs a shoulder to cry on or a pep talk from her agent. Hell, if I knew Lisa as well as I thought I did, she would definitely prefer a stiff drink to a “sun will come out tomorrow” speech.

So I reached into my mental hat closet and pulled out the trusty bartender hat.

For the next 30 minutes, I listened to my client as she let it all out. I made a few comments, but for the most part, I nodded a lot, just like a good bartender does. When she was done, Lisa thanked me for always having her back.

You may not know this, but every decent agent has a hat closet. It’s an essential tool. At different points in the day, clients will need me to play a certain role depending on the situation. I’m certainly not a trained thespian, so wearing the right hat can make it easier for me to perform.

READ: 6 Ways to Make an Agent Want to Drop You (or Not Sign at All)

And boy, do I have a lot of hats. That closet is stuffed! I’ve got everything from a romantic French beret to a friendly baseball cap.

I remember this one time when I had a client who was a series regular on a new half-hour comedy. It was an ensemble cast made up of five talented actors. The show had strong numbers and it was renewed for a second season. That’s when the cast got together to compare salaries. (Yes, actors do this. It’s the bane of my existence.) This unofficial meeting led to my client discovering he was making quite a bit less than his fellow cast members.

Speaking as the agent who did his deal, the reason for this was he had less experience than the others and his quote was much lower. That’s fine when you’re at the pilot stage, but it’s not so fine when the show is a success and going into its second season.

So I reached into my hat closet and whipped out the tough-guy fedora. It’s just like the one Bogart wears in “The Maltese Falcon.” And I used the power of that hat to launch a verbal attack on the studio, explaining my client was entitled to share in the success of the show and we should renegotiate his deal. What happened next? He got a substantial bump.

A large part of being an agent is understanding what each client needs from you. Over the years, I’ve been an authority figure, a good friend, a partner in crime, a therapist—whatever it took. And that’s all good, because having the ability to transform has helped me in all parts of my life.

Even with all these hats, there are still a lot of things I need in this world. But you know what I don’t need? One of those closet organizer types. I’ve got that covered just fine.

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