To Pay Or Not To Pay! That Is The Question!

For the actor or actress who isn’t in SAG, doesn’t have representation, and is without the industry contacts to get you in to an agent or casting director’s office… paid showcases can be an excellent way to meet and perform for prominent agents and casting directors. Some actors are adamantly against paying to audition. But for many actors, showcases are just about the only way to get that coveted foot in the door.

I want to impart some valuable tips from an agent showcase last night with DEDE BINDER-GOLDSMITH, President of Defining Artists, a prestigious boutique agency in Los Angeles.

Dede said that her presence at the agent showcase was really a “golden opportunity” for actors to meet with her because unless she knows an actor’s work or you’re personally referred, she probably won’t take your calls and won’t respond to actor emails. In fact, Dede said that her email account is set up to keep unsolicited actor emails out. It’s not that Dede Binder-Goldsmith is a rude person. By contrast, she’s very friendly and gracious. But there are so many actors who want agents that Dede doesn’t have the time or inclination to accept unsolicited calls and emails. That is essentially the case with most talent agents across the board. As the saying goes in Hollywood, “It’s who you know.”

For the unknown, non-union actor who doesn’t believe in paying to read for an agent or casting director, it becomes less probable that you will gain access to top agents and casting people in Hollywood. There are too many barriers in place. Although paying for agent and casting showcases does not guarantee success, what the showcases CAN guarantee is an OPEN DOOR to perform for and directly speak with agents and casting directors.

Paid showcases can accomplish more than just blindly sending out pictures and resumes over and over again. But if you are sending out or emailing pictures and resumes, be sure to personally write a note to each person you’re addressing. Never just attach your picture and resume to an otherwise blank email. That’s a surefire way to get rejected out of hand.

You don’t need to hear that making it as an actor in Hollywood is one of the toughest feats in the world. But you can increase your opportunities by adding casting & agent showcases to your acting arsenal in addition to training and sending out your mailings.

So, great luck with your acting careers, and hope to see you in the spotlight!


LINDA STUART is the author of GETTING YOUR SCRIPT THROUGH THE HOLLYWOOD MAZE, a successful book on screenwriting and the film industry. She is also an entertainment journalist who has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and Los Angeles magazine. Linda Stuart has lectured at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, and has been a Hollywood script reader for many top companies including Paramount Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, New Regency, Disney, CAA, ICM, Phoenix Pictures, Walden Media, and CFP Productions.