Monday, August 24, 2009

Right place, right time? Sometimes ...

I received an e-mail from Nicole, a young actor, who is looking to get to the next level in the business, having recently graduated from college in the mid-west. She posed two important questions that apply to a lot of other actors, as well.

Nicole wanted to know “How to be in the right places" and "What to do” as she begins her career journey. Her newly acquired agent's advice: "Be patient." I hate that. Indeed, you must be much more than just "patient."

The requirement, from the Business of Acting philosophy, is that you are (or have to learn how to become) pro-active in every way possible. Being in the “right” places requires you to define and discover where those places are. Anywhere you can hone your craft, develop your skills and network with other like-minded people is the target.

If you are a SAG member (or as soon as you become one), you are eligible to participate in the many, varied and wonderful SAG Foundation events and seminars, all for free. If I were you, I’d be at every one I could possibly attend. L.A. Casting regularly offers free seminars for its members. I highly recommend both of these.

I would also look at some “private” groups that might also be beneficial for you to join, such as The Actors Network. I would also (if you don't already do this), make it a point to regularly read at least one of the two trades and Backstage every week. Knowledge is empowerment — and the more you know about the business in which you want to make your living, the better prepared you will be for every opportunity that comes your way.

If you haven’t read The Business of Acting, I think you will find a lot of helpful perspective contained in its chapters. In it, you’ll read that agents work for you. To be told by your agent to “be patient” isn’t good enough. The book teaches you how to take charge of your career and be the leader of your team. You might also find a lot of helpful advice and information on the Business of Acting Blog, accessible through a link on the home page at

In an effort to be totally self-serving, as well as helpful, I would urge you to check out many of the interviews with working actors and other industry professionals now playing on-demand, for free, on our Web TV series Inside the Business of Acting.

Another book you might find helpful is Acting and How to Be Good At It, by veteran actor and acting coach Basil Hoffman. Basil writes from his many years of experience and serves up some very helpful advice for all young (and older) actors.

Go forth and become empowered. There will be a test on this. :)

Got a question about the business of acting? Post your question here or e-mail me directly at

Brad Lemack

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.