Q: What is the one thing actors feel they can not do without in order to move their career forward? Ding, Ding, Ding!!!!
A: An Agent
Not just any agent, but one who sees the vision for your career the same way that you do.
Here's the thing...
If you are right out of college...you may not be ready for rep...
If you don't have a truck load of credits...you may not be ready for rep...
If you are one of those people whose friends and family tell you how good-looking and talented you are and that you SHOULD be an actor...you may not be ready for rep....
Having been a working actor for more than 20 years, I can assure you there was a time when I was NOT ready for rep and thought that I was. I had little to no real credits, had not studied ANY type of technique and surely didn't have a clue of what my "type"or "image" was.
I would audition for any and everything hoping I would just book a gig and had no real plan. Then I discovered K Callan's - New York Agent Book. It changed my life and my career. It made me painfully aware of 3 top reasons I wasn't ready for rep.
1. Not Understanding My Unique Image
I figured I wasn't getting rep, because I didn't look like everyone else who was booking. So, I went hardcore and transformed my body to look like the chick from The Terminator. You could play multiple musical instruments on my washboard abs...lol. Of course, a new headshot session was called for.
Proudly displaying my six-pack abs, my agent looked at me, shook her head and asked, "Why are you killing yourself trying to look like every other girl...when you could make a killing as a character actress". Clearly, that was not the response I was looking for. Feeling defeated, embarrassed and pissed off, I covered up my abs and took the first thing smoking back up to Harlem.
Years later, it turns out that I make a very good living being what? You guessed it...a character actress. As a matter or fact, I made history being the only actress to recur on four sitcoms at the same time. Lesson: Sometimes other can see what you can't figure out for yourself. Be open, realistic and embrace who you ARE...not the girl or guy down the street.
2. No Training
Was I in acting class? Nope. Had I ever been in an acting class.? Nope. Do I study now? HELL YEAH!!! Listen kids...You HAVE to study and arm yourself with the very tools to assist you in NOT doing the old crash and burn at your audition or agent interview. Trust me, there are a dozen guys and dolls trained within an inch of their life who will wipe up the floor with you and walk away with the gig/rep you want and feel you deserve.
How do you fix it? Research and audit classes and teachers until you find the right fit for you. If you can't afford class, start a workout group with your actor friends once a week or once a month. It will keep you sharp and ready for the one. REMEMBER: Luck =Prepartion + Opportunity
3. No Networking Skills
An agent told me once that he is in the "repeat business". That means, you have have to establish and network yourself in this business to make people want to recommend you for gigs and work with you multiple times. The more you network, the more people know you, the more chances you have to create an arsenal of contacts that will go out of their way to hook you up. If you look at my resume, you will see from my credits that I have worked with various people multiple times. Now...let's keep it real. You will only get referrals and repeat business if the professionals tossing your name around trust that you will make them look good and represent them in the best light. Why? Repeat Business...my dear Repeat Business.