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The Longer You’re Unrepresented

October 23, 2012

The harder it gets to be represented. This is something that makes no sense. In the past 9 years I have grown immensely as an actor. Back when I thought I was great, I sucked. But now, well I know I’ll only get better, but I’m a pretty darn good actor if I do say so myself. So why don’t I have an agent?  I don’t really want to get into all the reasons as it generally sends me into a spiral of depression, but here’s one of big reason.

In most professions, you have to pay your dues. You have to work your way up, do the crappy jobs, kiss butt etc. etc. In acting, we have our own form of  paying dues. Do awful non-union theater in basements, go on the road doing children’s theater at 7 am for ungrateful Arkansaw-ians, and work on student film sets more chaotic than a shopping mall on Christmas Eve. But if you have talent, can act and are appealing on some/any level to look at, you should eventually get the attention of what they call the “sellers” or agents. Your (our) package and tool set includes all those things that can help us book jobs, whether it be musical theatre, TV, Film, Hosting gigs or Dance. We are a product and we need to make ourselves as marketable to as many markets as we can, and so we do. And so I have. Yet where is the agent?

I am a specific type, not so specific that there are only a few of me, rather specific enough that there are a lot of me, and most agents see me and assume they already have three mid 30s guys who aren’t handsome nor ugly and are a little funny (I’m more than a little funny). They assume I am just like the guys they already send in for co-stars and don’t need another taking appointments away from their established clients. A lot of it comes from the fact that they have never seen me work, nor will they. Most agents seem to be rather “safe” players. They have their clients that book when they book and they want to go home at night knowing that tomorrow will be like today which was like yesterday. It is rare to find that agent who is willing to take a risk on a client, take a chance on someone, because well that’s not their nature. That is ours, we are the risk takers, the darers, the ones who are willing to sacrifice everything for just  a little something. Most regular people could never make it through a day in our shoes, the uncertainty would kill them, but I digress.

My problem is, the older I get, the more I begin to be looked at as unrepresentable, I am damaged goods perhaps. I imagine the thought process for the agent I am soliciting goes something like this “if he’s so good, and he’s in his mid 30s, why doesn’t he have an agent? Is he crazy? Does he piss people off? Is he hard to work with?” And when you look at it, it makes sense. I mean, why don’t I have representation. Fact is, I am one of thousands who get lost in the cracks. It is not for lack of talent or trying I don’t have an agent. 99% of agents are not seeking new talent like me, they are seeking new talent that is actually new. Confused? Let me explain.

My wife works for an agency (no need to go into why they won’t even meet with me), but she is constantly going to showcases, Grad ones, undergrad ones and ones that aren’t even college affiliated. And she tells me about how her agency is going to sign a certain person. Then she tells me about said person, and I maybe get to see their h/s and resume. I am often completely unimpressed, she will often even say she doesn’t understand why. This actor nine times out of ten knows nothing about NYC. They know nothing about the business and they know pretty much nothing about auditioning (let’s face it, how much did you know about auditioning when you got out of school?) Yet this fairly big time agency wants to commit themselves to this actor.

I often hear stories she tells me about how these actors call asking how to get to Bleecker street, they have no idea what to wear, think casting directors are the producers, and forget to bring headshots. They are as green as the forest, yet their chances of being plucked out by an agent are immensely greater than mine. How is this fair? Well nothing in this business is right. After all, I am a well-versed actor, a New Yorker, a writer and someone who already has established friendships/relationships with casting directors. But these young, hotshot kids, are tons more appealing to agents than us working NYC actors. They are the hot new thing and probably 5 times more likely to be called in from doing a two-minute scene at New World Stages than we are from our reel, or from our consistent postcarding letting the agents know we just booked Blue Bloods and were called back for three regionals through EPA’s.

We keep doing what we do, sometimes it will lead to getting an agents attention. These actors do their showcase and (not often, but probably more likely than not) they will draw the attention of at least one of the managers or agents that attended. Yet we keep going. AT my showcase 9 years ago, I didn’t draw anyone’s attention. Many of my classmates did, 80% in fact, of those 80% (40 actors) 10 are still in the business. So maybe there is something to be said about persistence, being overlooked and doing your own thing after all.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2012 9:49 am

    Great points. I’ve started to realize more and more that the things I’ve been so frustrated at having to work too hard for or not being handed like other people seemingly are, have made me into a much “hardier” person and actor. I know the same goes for you.

  2. The Growing Artist permalink
    October 23, 2012 11:29 pm

    Great advice! I enjoyed reading your post!


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