Working with Your Agent
Your agent is like a dispatcher who can recommend you to casting agents, submit you for auditions, verify and negotiate your contract terms, and sometimes help track down what is owed (both of) you. Agents aren’t your “star maker” or manager (who exercise a lot more control over you and will take a larger percentage of your pay). Remember, since your agent gets 10% of either your session fee or in addition to your session fee, that means you do 90% of the leg work in looking for opportunity and work! It is a business relationship that must work for both parties, otherwise it’s time to part ways when your contract is up (possibly sooner).
An agent may initially “hip pocket you” (informally send you out and see if you get any callbacks/bookings), before signing you to a longer “exclusive” contract. When you sign with an agent, you are obligated to only audition through them.
You can choose to sign with your agent for a year or two or three or even more– perhaps less at first, just to see how things go, then if it goes great, you may both choose to sign for a longer term. It is not a bad idea to run the terms of your agent’s contract by your union or an entertainment lawyer so that you understand the terms thoroughly and can make changes if needed. Understand the contract you’re thinking of signing. Be above board with concerns and questions for your agent– you are a team!
BEWARE THE BLAME GAME.
Actors often experience a slow down in their career’s momentum and it’s easy to blame your agent. But this is often unrealistic. The heavy lifting in moving your career forward is essentially your own responsibility. Growing as an artist, improving your creative powers, drawing employment to you is mostly your department. Remember, your agent only makes 10% of your session fee. This has always said to me that the actor/client is responsible for the vast majority of his/her career’s momentum, not the agent.
If you are having a slow down in work and career, perhaps it’s time to take stock of what you are doing and what you are putting out there rather than blame or even “fire” your agent. Have a frank discussion with your agent about your career, your auditions, your frequency of time at bat, whether you are getting to read for the right kinds of roles, anything either of you can do to better optimize your booking ratio. Try working out any issues first before considering switching agencies.
Sometimes a change of representation is indeed the right move, but you may find in retrospect that the issue wasn’t with your agent, but was in fact with you.