“Do you have an agent?”
Possibly the most popular question ever posed to an actor, second only to “What have we seen you in?” (Or, my mother’s favorite, “When do I get to see a copy of that student spec commercial for diapers you shot in December in Oxnard so I can send it to all your cousins?!” Oh, Mom…) The representation question is certainly one we devote lots of time and energy to, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Because, in reality, the agent is only one (albeit very important) part of your team. That’s right! You are building a team to help you build, support, and sell your product: YOU.
Think I’ve been watching too much college basketball for my own good? Yeah, well, just think about it for a second. When you read any of those interviews in gossip websites or celebrity tabloids, or listen to who award-winning actors thank at the Oscars or the Golden Globes, they always mention a whole slew of random people you’ve never heard of: publicists, managers, assistants, coaches, teachers, casting directors, and, yes, agents. It’s like one of those commercials for children’s advocacy groups: “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.” And it totally takes a village to raise an actor’s career! Your teammates can offer you everything from advice to auditions to just plain moral support. So let’s talk about the important players you can start gathering for your team. You’ll be surprised how many people you can count among your teammates…
1. Casting Directors: These are the people who give you jobs. Be good to them.
2. Your Agent: The person who gets you the opportunity to get those jobs. Make sure you like them as much as they like you.
3. Your Manager: The person who helps you all along the way. They keep you focused, excited, and in the game.
4. Your Gym/Trainer: The person/place who keeps you looking good and feeling even better! No matter what your size or shape is, your body is your tool in this business, and you’ve got to make sure you’re strong enough to handle the physical demands a role can present.
5. Your Acting Teacher: The person who leads you into figuring out what kind of actor you are and what kind of actor you can be. The person who let’s you have fun while challenging yourself. Make sure you pick an acting teacher you feel safe with and inspired by!
6. Your Networking Group: Those co-conspirators who make sure you are working hard to succeed. Bounce ideas off them, share contacts, and give & get advice. A vital part of your team.
7. Your Headshot Photographer: The person who sums you up…visually.
8. Your Hair Stylist: The person who sums you up…in a stylish coif!
9. Your Employer: The person who pays your bills so you can do what you really want to do: act. This is one of the most elusive and delicate members of your team. Choose wisely, and don’t settle for someone who is mean to you. It’ll bring your team motivation waaaay down.
10. Your Friends & Family: The backbone of your team. You cannot do this alone. Share your victories and your failures with them; they’ll still love you regardless. While you’re at it, keep your great friends close, and cut out the soul-sucking, positivity-killers. And remember, your friends & family are the folks who will always remind you that you have a life outside of your acting career & that you are a great person whether you are a starving artist or the next Meryl Streep. Be good to them, too.
Anybody I’ve forgotten? Undoubtedly! Every team is different. Your team might also include your local barista (hey, coffee is an indispensable part of many teams!) or maybe it’s your neighborhood frozen yogurt place (“Yogurtland” is definitely the cheerleader section of my team). Whatever works for you! The important thing is to surround your self with people who love and challenge you in the most positive of ways. You don’t have to go run out and do trust falls with your manager to check out his willingness to support you, but go with your gut when choosing your teammates. Don’t let negative Nellies destroy your exciting work ethic and energetic drive to succeed!
So. Are you convinced? All right. Now all you have to do is buying matching uniforms! Just kidding. Just because my teammates all wear color-coordinated t-shirts every day that say “Team Teresa Rocks My Socks!” doesn’t mean your team has to do the same…The point is, you should feel supported on your artistic journey, because you can’t do it alone. Go Team!