Have you heard the expression “There’s no such thing as a dumb question”? Well, that’s absolutely not true. I hear stupid questions all the time. Like just the other day, I was hanging out at the local farmers market and a good-looking guy in his 20s came up to me. This dude had “actor” written all over him. We made eye contact, and he asked, “Do you remember me?”
This is a stupid question. Why? Because the blank expression on my face should’ve told him the answer before the words came tumbling out of his mouth. And what exactly did he hope to accomplish? All he did was put me on the spot while making himself look needy.
It turned out I had seen him perform in a play with one of my clients. This was over a year ago. Let me say that again: This was over a year ago! Agents see a lot of shows and we meet a ton of actors. So, no. I had no idea who he was. And the guy seemed disappointed to hear that. He had assumed I would recognize him immediately, which is the ultimate act of narcissism.
The smarter move would have been to introduce himself and then explain how we knew each other. I would have been more than happy to chat with him for a few minutes, unless he crossed the line by hitting me up for representation. Then I probably would have shoved him into a pack of crazed vegans while I ran for my car.
Here’s another dumb question: During a meeting at my office, an actor once asked if I was happy working there. Again, what did the guy expect me to say? Did he think I would burst into tears because I hated my job? The only answer I could possibly give him was, yes, I was very happy at my current company.
(FYI, common sense dictates that even if I was miserable, I would never express my unhappiness to a stranger while sitting a few offices away from my boss.)
Unrepresented actors are always complaining they can’t connect with agents. I understand that frustration, but here’s the bigger concern: Most of you don’t know what to ask when you finally get some face time.
When you’re talking to one of us, you have to use your minutes wisely instead of wasting them with misguided questions. For example, don’t ask how many actors are on my list. That’s both dumb and lazy. Why? Because you can find the answer online.
Back in the day, when I was trying to move up from my lowly position as an assistant, I went on a lot of interviews, and I always went in armed with a few strong questions. One of them was, “You have more experience than I do, so I have to ask: How has the industry changed since you started this company?” That question always sparked an interesting conversation, the kind that made me memorable.
To be clear, I’m not making fun of anyone. I’m just trying to point out that the questions you ask reflect who you are. And as an actor, you should learn how to choose your words wisely.
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