In the last blog I ended with a cliffhanger (of sorts) detailing that I knew something was up with my being dropped from the agency. I also reiterated that this is a normal process that occurs all the time. Sometimes actors choose it and they let go of their agent and sometimes it happens the opposite way around. But, for me, as I am sure many other actors, something just didn’t feel right.
The reason for that feeling? A week before I received the termination email I had done my first work for the agency, earning them a commission on a TV commercial. The first six months of being in the agency there were no auditions. The next nine months there were many auditions obtained and attended (more on this soon). Famine, then feast – a not unknown trajectory of being an actor.
For the first time I felt like an agency was working for me. In my entire career I have not had many auditions. The work that I have had came out of connections from drama school and were companies who enjoyed my work and hired me again and again. Another ex-agent kept on promising the world but delivering nothing. But here, thanks to my new agency, I was finally going to auditions every six weeks, which, like I said, for me was a record. It felt good. And every time I worked so hard because I was grateful to finally be standing in front of people showing them what I could do. I also needed the money. The last time I worked was a year and two months earlier. I was living off savings and a new job – teaching online.
Admittedly, one TV commercial casting does not make a successful career nor does it justify an agency keeping you on. There are many factors involved. One of them is your ‘sale-ability’. If you cant get an actor in the door to be seen; or the actor’s physical appearance never fits casting briefs; or if the feedback from the audition room is not great – all factors that can lead to being let go.
At the start of my relationship with this agency they crooned over my sale-ability. They crowed over my talent as a few agents had seen my work at a well respected theatre company. And they assured me that they would stand by me and that if ever I needed to chat to them, about anything, that I could do so. But very soon you learn that that is just part of the bullshit chat-up lines agents use with actors. They only mean it if they get something back and when you resist or show that you cannot be moved or swayed then, well, they dump you.
This is a fundamental fact that every actor needs to be aware of. It works both ways but another thing that I have learnt in this industry – everything and I mean EVERYTHING sets an actor up to fail.
And you won’t even know you are doing it.