This was quite a fun article for me to write because I have experienced EVERY side of this topic. I have been a talent myself and represented by quite a few different talent agencies. As an acting coach, choreographer, show director, owner of a commercial performing arts studio and founder of two artist development companies, I have been working on the frontline with entertainment industry parent's for over a decade, and I know exactly what goes through their minds. Since recently deciding to officially open my own talent agency, I fully understand the day to day duties of a talent agent, and know exactly what is going on behind the desk.
1. What YOU Think Your Agent Does.
When I was first a talent, and signed by my very first agent, in my mind I had become a part of a secret society. I just knew that the very moment I signed that "Non-Exclusive" representation contract, (which is quite comical if you know what that means), my agent immediately began working tirelessly on my behalf. I imagined my agent dressed in all black, wearing designer sunglasses, (never leaving the face), a high tech ear piece used for the continuous pouring in of phone calls, and dedicated to non-stop negotiations- making big deals with my name on it! Clearly my head shot had been strategically placed by my agents lap top, and was sitting on the desk, so that anytime this secret agent of mine could look over and be reminded of their number one priority of the day....ME!!!! My head shot was probably even on the dash of their red Ferrari, because obviously no one was sleeping- until I was working! Might I suggest you glance up at the the title again.....this was clearly what I THOUGHT my agent was doing.
2. What Your Parent's Think Your Agent Does.
Based on my experience first hand, (including before I opened my own agency), I have found that many parents seem to believe quite the opposite. Those parents, (because clearly I am not talking about any parent reading this blog ;) ), may never admit it but they often times feel that their child's agent is purposely trying NOT to submit their child to any castings. I can only imagine what goes through their minds, when they see a child actor in a movie or on a t.v. show, that slightly resembles their child's typecast. They probably begin blaming their agent for being lazy and clearly not working at all, or their child would be on that television screen. To them that agent is obviously either sleeping all day, attending useless lunch meetings, constantly on vacation, or just deliberately ignoring all ten phone calls and twenty e-mails you have sent in the past week, when all you were asking for..is an update!! Clearly this agent is useless!
3. What Your Agent DOES.
Your talent agent is spending the majority of their time on the phone or contacting employers and potential clients online. Talent agents are constantly trying to come up with new and innovative ways to accomplish their goals and the goals of the talent they represent.
Majority of talent agents are always performing marketing duties and essentially the amount of marketing required for talent agents, (representing actors, models, dancers, and various specialty acts), a lot is dependent on their talent's marketing potential. Talent agents are receiving new talent submissions every day, by the mass load, and have a lot to consider when accepting new talent. Agents must be very selective and extremely picky when considering each potential new talent. It is important that they carefully assess each portfolio and submission package, in order to determine current marketability. They may base their decision solely on the current demand of certain typecasts, training, industry experience and what gaps they are looking to fill on their talent roster.
The daily job duties of a talent agent also include searching and deciphering through hundreds of new castings and submitting talent to those castings, in hopes to get their talent an audition slot. Also, at the same time, it is vital an agent stay on top of what talent is out working that day, what their needs are, and perform any follow ups necessary, from the previous work day, in order to confirm any unclosed deals. Of course this does not take in to account for the many unexpected fires that pop up throughout the day, in which the agent MUST adhere to immediately or there will be severe consequences. Talent and parent's of talent typically are only contacted when they receive an audition or get a direct booking. Agent's do not have time to call, and or e-mail each talent, every time they are submitted.
In an agency office it is a constant race against the clock trying to get all talent submitted as fast as they can, when notified of each casting. A talent agent's job is to get you (the talent) an audition! It is up to YOU to get booked! Once a talent is booked, then the agent will continue to be the go between, handle negations, and all details of the job, as it pertains to the hired talent.
It is the job of the talent to always be ready, trained, and available for auditions. Time IS money in this industry and agents have NO TIME to waste. So, always be nice to your agent and appreciate the hard work going on behind the scenes, even if you don't always see it. ;)