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

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Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

At the beginning of the year, I started keeping an eye out for the kind of behavior that makes my blood pressure go through the roof. My focus was on the actors who wanted me to sign them and the ones who were already on my list. Now that pilot season has come to an end, I’d like to share my top three peeves in each category with a mandate that you should never, ever copy the actions of these clueless performers.

If you’re seeking representation:

1. Never send me an email submission during lunch or after hours. I won’t open it. If submissions come in while I’m out of the office and using my phone, I delete them without taking a look. But if I’m sitting at my desk in front of the computer, I always examine them.

2. Never submit to an agency during pilot season. I’m too damn busy with the clients who are already on my list to consider meeting and signing new talent. The only exceptions to this rule are young, gorgeous actors from diverse backgrounds. If that’s the case and I don’t have your specific type, I might just rush you in to meet us. (That’s a reflection of the current needs of the marketplace, not my specific taste.)

READ: The Best Plan When Meeting a Potential Agent

3. Never use a fake referral; it will always come back to haunt you. This happens all the time, and it never works. I always follow up on the name you drop, and if that person doesn’t know you, I definitely don’t want to know you.

If you have representation:

1. Never tell your agent you don’t have a passport when you’ve been accepting auditions for gigs that work in Canada. We have a lot on our minds, so we don’t always think to ask. But if you confirm an audition for a show like “Supergirl,” knowing full well they shoot in Vancouver, then your agent is going to assume you’re good to go. The time to tell me you don’t have a passport is when I call with the audition, not when I call with the offer.

2. Never tell me you can be a local hire when you can’t. If I convince a casting director in Atlanta to give you a shot because you told me you could be local and then it turns out you can’t, I will go ballistic. To be clear, agreeing to be a local hire means you will fly yourself out, put yourself up, and expect no ground transportation or per diem.

READ: The Real Meaning of ‘Local Hire’

3. Never tell me you’re going to do something and then not do it. Back in January, I asked an actor to start coaching for pilot season because his feedback hadn’t been very good. And I specifically told him to confirm that he was doing so. Guess what? Pilot season is over and I still haven’t heard back from him. This kind of behavior tells me his career is not important to him, so why should it be important to me?

The sad truth is that this business attracts more actors than it needs. That’s why agents judge you on more than talent: It gives us a way to thin the herd. Don’t give us a reason to drop you or not sign you, because if you do, that’s exactly what we’ll do.

Ask Secret Agent Man about this and more on the Backstage Community forums!

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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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