An agent friend of mine puts it like this: Stop asking yourself, “Why isn’t my agent sending me out?” Do you really think that if your agent had the power to just ‘send you out’ that they wouldn’t? The real question is, “Why aren’t casting directors calling me in?”
Let me expand on that: With the online submission system, you are coming up in searches and your agent is looking at your photo EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s even possible that you are getting submitted EVERY SINGLE DAY. And it is absolutely certain that if it were up to your agent, you would have auditions EVERY SINGLE DAY. Just because you don’t talk to them every day doesn’t mean they are not thinking of you, submitting you, even fighting for you. Your agents might believe you are the most talented person on their roster and submit you for every single thing you are right for, but the reality is that casting offices get thousands of submissions FOR EACH ROLE and can only see a handful of people.
Let’s say a casting office got 2,000 submission and they are calling in 12 people. Your agent submitted you so you are one of the 2,000…but how do you get to be one of the 12? What makes you so special? Sure, there’s credits. Yes, it’s a Catch-22. Too bad. So is getting into SAG and many of you have managed to do that, right? Get over thinking that this is unfair. Remember that all those people with credits (well, 99.999% of them) had to struggle for that first one…and the second one…and the third… Someday when you’re the one with credits you’ll be glad that your hard work has paid off in more auditions. Actors often forget that experience is a giant factor for getting job interviews IN ANY BUSINESS!
So if you don’t have credits, then what CAN you do? Well, you need to have something tangible for your agent to pitch, and it starts with good materials. Do you expect your agent to call people and say, “I know his pictures are grainy and out of date, and he doesn’t have credits or a reel but just trust me, he’s really good”?
Try this experiment: Look at your Actors Access profile (which, if you don’t know, is the site where you upload the information that your agent uses to submit you through Breakdown Services). Imagine that you just found out that a casting director is going to call in 12 people and right now you’re #13 on the list. What could you do to bump yourself up into that top 12? Are your pictures amazing? Are they current? Do you have a good assortment of them? Are the clips/reels you have up helping or hurting? Is your resume up to date? Have you filled in your special skills, including the unique ones that are not included in the checklist form? (There are blank spaces for those.) Is your age range accurate? Do you even have one listed? (If you don’t have an age range in your profile, you are not coming up in searches when your agent narrows the field using an age range…which is how most agents do most breakdowns.)
And materials are just one factor. I could go on and on, and hopefully will in future blogs…cultivate your relationship with your agent, keep working on your craft (theatre, classes, etc.), keep your casting fans informed of your actor activity, blah, blah…
Of course there are times when we need to move on in our relationships, whether business or personal. But often actors are too quick to blame their agents and managers when they aren’t getting auditions, unaware of just how hard those reps are working for them.
In closing: Ask not what your agent can do for your career, but what YOU can do for your career. 😉