How Actors Can Connect During COVID-19, According to an Agent

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Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

I’ve always believed that we are defined by our choices during times of trouble. Anyone can behave well when things are good, but that gets a little bit harder when life takes a turn for the worse.

We’re living in a unique situation that none of us have ever faced before. At publication time, President Trump has extended social distancing guidelines through the end of the month. So, looking ahead, how should we behave? I feel the road forward involves turning away from morbid self-involvement and becoming more aware of how our actions are seen by—and affect—others.

Shifting to the industry, I’m stunned by the number of emails I’ve been receiving from actors seeking representation. Do you really think this is the right time to be sending out submissions? When I read these pitches, all I’m seeing is: “Yes, thousands are dying, but I don’t care because I still need an agent.”

Here’s a better idea: Instead of committing an abrasive act of narcissism, try focusing on a target list of all the reps you’re going to approach when this crisis is over. Be selective and do your homework. Collect some facts. (After all, there’s no rush, right?) And you might want to share the wording of those future submissions with your actor friends for some honest feedback.

If you have representation, please understand that most agents are human beings. We have friends and families too, so there’s a good chance that we’re all freaking out about the future and safety of our loved ones. This is why you can’t expect the same level of servicing you were getting before this virus landed on our shores.

That means this is not the perfect time to run new headshots by your agent. Choosing the right pictures means I have to examine hundreds of choices. During normal times, I actually enjoy this process. But these aren’t normal times. Believe it or not, I’d rather spend my time staying safe, waiting in line at Trader Joe’s, and connecting with others. Your pictures, like those submissions, can wait.

READ: SAM Reveals How the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Affecting Agents + Their Clients

You should also realize there’s a good chance your agent is currently unemployed. I sure am. And that’s another level of anxiety. Yes, my job will be waiting for me when this is over, but when will that be? In a few weeks? A few months? The uncertainty is overwhelming.

Considerate clients understand that we truly are in this together, and quite a few have reached out to me in positive ways. One actor sent me a film recommendation based on a conversation we had a few months ago at the office Christmas party. She felt I would really respond to this rare movie from the ’40s, so I checked it out on Netflix, and she was right! I absolutely loved it. The next day, I enjoyed a long conversation with the actor about my new love for this old film. It felt like I was talking to a friend, not someone I represent. Others have checked in with well wishes and genuine concern. A few have sent links to some really funny short films, and I am thankful for all of them.

So, hang in there, actors. This, too, will pass. And I’m going to predict there will be some fantastic opportunities for all of us when this nightmare is finally over.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. And I’ll catch you on the flip side.

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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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