Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The impact of "reputation" in the business of representation ...

I found myself in an interesting position the other day. A young actor who recently purchased a copy of and read my book contacted me about one of the agents I interviewed for Chapter 4, “The Business of Talent Representation: Navigating the Muddy Waters of Association.”

Without naming names here, this actor was inquiring about some negative word on the street he had come across about this agent and his agency. He wanted to get my take on it.

I told him that I, too, had heard some of the same information. I also told him that it was important to recognize that your reputation is based on both the positive and negative experiences that any given person has had with you. Some people will say glowing, glorious things; others will say just the opposite. Being human, none of us are immune. Me included.

If you are an actor, particularly a young actor, seeking representation, this is worthy of further examination.

Such comments, whether actually true or not, cannot and should not be easily dismissed. This particular agent has attempted to reinvent his company and his image, having left his old agency behind and begun a new venture. I was happy to hear that. However, I remind you that agents (and managers) work for actors. If you accept representation from any agent (or manager), he or she would be working FOR you; not the other way around. You must perform due diligence in this process. If you have concerns over what has been said about him or her and how he or she conducts business, ask the question. If he or she refuses to discuss it, brushes it off or won't otherwise give you an explanation that you're satisfied with, then move on. Clearly, at that point, this person and this agency are not the right place for you.

Too often, too eager actors will sign with anyone who is willing to sign them, regardless of issues of reputation or complete comfort on the actor's part about the association they are about to enter into. Not a smart move at all.

There are a lot of decent agents (and managers) out there. If you have reputation concerns about an agent (or manager) you are interested in signing with and that agent (or manager) cannot adequately address those issues and your concerns, and in the process assure you that he or she is one of the ones worth being in business with, then wait until you find someone who can.

Class dismissed.


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