Sometimes, Getting Cast Is Just a Flip of a Coin

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Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

The year’s almost over, and I still have quite a few ideas left in my 2021 topic file. Most of them don’t merit an entire column, so I’ve dug out half a dozen nuggets to create this week’s “pre-holiday sampler.” I hope you enjoy it!

1. If you have representation, here’s something you should remember the next time you get new headshots: Don’t send your reps every single picture that was taken during the session. There are usually hundreds, and agents only have so much time. Do everyone a solid and narrow the choices down to your 100 favorites. This will allow us to focus on making the right choices.

2. Speaking of headshots, it never ceases to amaze me how actors will spend a ton of money on an expensive photo shoot and then ruin the results by doing their own retouching. Are you well-versed in Photoshop? Do you have a light touch? Great! Use that skill on all the worthless pictures you take with your phone from morning to night. Don’t use it on the No. 1 marketing tool for your career!

3. The other day, I saw a casting breakdown where an authentic Spanish-speaking accent was required for a non-speaking role. I still don’t know what to make of it, but you can see why I didn’t submit any clients for that nonsense. 

“You can work with one agency for theatrical and another for commercials, but you can’t have multiple choices in each category. How would commissions work?”

4. I know two former actors who were the best improvisors around. These guys were amazing. They could spin any audience suggestion into comedic brilliance. Unfortunately, their acting careers never took off, so they decided to try writing. Long story short, the two of them wrote a pilot script that got them a job on a network comedy. Now they have their own show and they’re making a fortune. The other day, I asked one of them if he was enjoying his success. You know what the guy told me? He said writing was fine, but he really missed acting and he couldn’t help wondering if he had given up too soon. Then he got into his brand-new Lexus and drove off to his home in the Hollywood Hills. Seems to me he made the right decision. 

5. I once flipped a silver dollar to decide which client I should pitch for a particular role. The actor who went in got the job. Just my luck! 

6. A few months ago, an actor asked me if it was OK for actors to freelance with different agents. I didn’t understand the question, so I asked him to clarify. Apparently, the guy thought actors could work with several companies at the same time as a way of increasing their opportunities. It took me a moment to process the madness behind his words. Then I explained that actors can only have one rep for each field. In other words, you can work with one agency for theatrical and another for commercials, but you can’t have multiple choices in each category. How would commissions work? Are your reps supposed to compete with each other? Is this the road to complete chaos? Apparently, this used to be a thing in New York, just like trolleys and silent movie studios. Not on my watch!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this sampler. Now here’s an important reminder: Christmas is almost here, which means it’s time to make the most important decision any actor can make. What are you going to get your agent for the holidays?

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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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