When agents or talent managers sign new clients, it takes a while to get to know them. We have to get used to your face, get used to your presence on our rosters, get used to where you live and when you’re available. We have to get to know your talent and what you’re capable of. We need to know how dramatic you can get or how funny you can be. We don’t learn all of that in the first meeting. It takes time to really get to know the actors that we represent.
In the initial meeting, we’re listening to see how committed you are as an actor and determining if the vibe is good between us as we talk about your career. We’re looking for confidence from you. We’re looking to see if there’s tension or if there’s a good flow of conversation. We’re looking to see what you expect, and we’re telling you what we expect. If all of those things fall in line we may sign you to a one, two or three-year auto-renewing management contract.
We know it generally takes an actor two or three years to start working. During those first years, you are considered a developmental actor if you have no episodic TV credits. Many agents and managers are looking for actors that already have television credits and will have little to no developmental clients on their roster.
There are a handful of developmental managers who will spend time educating their actors about the business. They will help you get all of your materials together, build your resumes and acting clips, submit you to casting and help casting get familiar with you.
If we are developing you, throughout that first year we are not getting paid. But, if we believe in your talent, we keep working diligently to get you your first auditions, short films, student films, feature films, and hopefully in year two to three, co-star and guest star roles on network television.
When an agent or manager signs you, it’s because we believe in you. We believe in your ability to make money for our companies. We invest time, money and energy into you and eventually, the work we have done for years starts to show a return on investment.
However, some actors jump ship right when the two to three-year mark hits and the clients are starting to finally make money. Starting with another rep at this time just means now they have to take all of that time again to get to know you and get familiar with your work. Reps appreciate when actors are grateful for the time and energy that is put into the first few years of your career. When you finally start making money, please don’t take your success and go somewhere else. It’s heartbreaking for reps when this happens. We are dreaming your dream with you. For years you become a part of our life, our intentions, our dreams and we want to see the outcome actualize just as much as you do.
A lot of agents will let smaller boutique companies develop the actors to the point of making money and then swoop in and try to sign them after all of the hardest work is done. Resist being a part of that. Be appreciative of the efforts of the people who believe in you first, and are willing to work for you for free to get you to the level of becoming a working actor.
Now, on the other hand, if your representative isn’t great, isn’t communicative, isn’t getting you auditions or building your resume and isn’t providing you with business guidance, contacts, resources and answering questions, you definitely should leave! But, if they are doing their job and issues come up, try and resolve things before you just walk away. Remember it’s a relationship so, like all relationships, communication is key. I’ve seen actors leave good managers or agents because they think the grass is greener somewhere else. It usually isn’t.
There is such beauty in this business for both reps and actors. We find an actor we fall in love with and devote our lives to your lives. You find someone who believes in you and values your dreams. Sometimes that’s the first person who ever really has.
Cherish these precious relationships. They are worth valuing and respecting.