Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Frustrations Of A Talent Agent

Wendy Alane Wright Talent Manager in Los Angeles Offers critical insider advice to actors and parents of actors who are looking to succeed in show business.

Hi folks! Today I am sharing a post from Atlanta Talent Agent Dorecia Carr. She shares many of the same issues Agents and Managers face in LA and NYC.


I'm a talent agent. Our agency has 2 branches; 1 in Atlanta and 1 in Chicago. We represent actors for television/film, commercial and Print. I take pride in the fact that I've built a very strong roster of actors, but the issues I run into everyday are nearly unbelievable. I wonder if other agents have the same problems.

There are so many things I'd like to address, but today, let's talk about the kids. We represent actors of all ages, but truth be told, the kids are our favorites (I hope my adult actors don't get jealous). Kids are so very interesting to me. They are extremely talented, and they are fearless. We have some AMAZING child actors! Some of our child actors have better reels than our adults. Sometimes we sign kids who may not be as experienced, because we see potential in them, and we know what they can accomplish. We may love their look, and their charisma.

We have signed multiple kids with no experience who have gone on to book national commercials and feature films within a month of being signed to us. But unfortunately, we've recently made the decision to only accept children who are experienced young actors. Because for some reason, we almost ALWAYS have issues with the parents of the inexperienced kids. Some of these parents want the agents and the managers to do so much for them, and they think we can magically wave a wand to get their child on television. However, THEY DO NOT WANT TO LISTEN!!!

I'm an agent. I have the capability to provide your child with opportunities to
get in front of major casting directors, producers, & directors. You do not have that capability. You came to me for this reason. Why won't you LISTEN to me? For example, headshots! HEADSHOTS, HEADSHOTS, HEADSHOTS! I refer actors to successful, respected photographers who have gotten actors booked on major television/film projects from their headshots. I do this, because clearly THOSE photographers know what works in whatever market they have been successful in.

We always get the parents who say "oh I know a photographer who only charges $100". Well guess what, that photographer may not be a photographer for THIS industry. Maybe they are a photographer who usually does family portraits. Or maybe they are a photographer who usually takes school photos. We need you to have strong commercial and theatrical, and even character headshots for THIS industry. You know how there are different types of doctors? Or different types of lawyers? Well, there are also different types of photographers.

LISTEN TO YOUR AGENT. Then, there are the parents who won't UPDATE their child's headshots, but they expect their child to book! I have parents who sign with us, then 3 months later their child gets braces, and they don't notify us. Other parents whose child has headshots from over a year ago, and now looks way older. Kids grow very fast.

My son looked 12 years old 6 months ago, he now looks 14! Here's another thing, there are actually parents who for some reason think their child does not need acting classes. We always run into this problem. Your child should CONSTANTLY be training. They should be taking their craft serious and getting guidance to help cultivate their talent. There is so much to learn, and you can never learn too much. And they should be training with the best. Just because someone says they are a coach and charges less than everyone else in town, doesn't mean they are the right coach for your child.  I go by results.

If I see an acting school that has students who ALWAYS book, I'm going to refer you to THAT acting school. Your child should have a successful well respected acting coach. Acting coaches are very important. There are many acting coaches who have connections and can actually get you booked! But again, we get parents who don't want to pay for classes. Then there is the issue of sending in terrible taped auditions. We send our actors auditions for television shows on major networks such as Disney.

I guarantee you the Disney execs are NOT going to sit and watch a terrible cell phone video. Use a professional taping service. The parents will try to tape the audition themselves, send it to us at the last minute, and it ends up being a poor quality audition. The parents also don't follow the taping instructions that are provided by the casting directors. And when I try to explain what's wrong with the audition, they feel there's nothing wrong with it.

We refer our actors to wonderful companies that provide taping services and they charge anywhere from $10-40 depending on how much time it takes. The great thing about using a taping service is they are professionals, and they know how to follow the instructions we send them. They always send great quality auditions, and most of them are familiar with the casting directors in town and know what they expect.

Then there are the parents who complain about not getting enough auditions, but when they get the auditions, THEY DECLINE THEM!!! "Oh my child can't make it to that audition they have a birthday party to go to...oh we will be going out of town that day...oh I won't have time to tape my child because my child has swimming lessons at that time". When you submit your child to an agency, the agent is under the impression that you want your child to WORK. I don't know how many times I have to tell parents to give me their book out dates. Notify me when you will be out of town. That way, I know not to submit your child on those dates.

Now the BIGGEST problem I run into, are the parents who expect me to answer every call they make to me, even if their call is not important. To expect an agent to answer every call is a very false expectation. Your child is not the only child on the roster. I've had parents call me over and over asking "is my child going to get submitted for this?....have you heard back from the casting director?...what has my child been submitted for this week?..." LET ME DO MY JOB.

I have over 200 actors. I'm on the phone with casting directors, production companies, accounting, I rarely have time to talk on the phone. I am very very transparent with my actors. I provide them with a talent report every 6 months showing them what they have been submitted for, and most of my experienced actors LOVE that. Because the experienced actors know that ALL agents don't provide a talent report, but I do. If you don't trust me to do my job, you should find someone you trust. Now, with all that being said, I understand that being an actor can be costly; headshots, acting classes, traveling for auditions, paying to get auditions taped. However, that's something that comes with the territory. Consider it an investment. I am not trying to be mean, and I hope I'm not coming off that way. But if you are not ready to invest in your child's career, then you may not be ready to start searching for an agent or manager right now.

Remember, there are hundreds of other kids casting directors see everyday who have the FULL PACKAGE. They have amazing headshots that make them stand out. They have a reel or amazing video clips. They can travel for in person auditions. Their taped auditions are professional. We have great success with our kids. Our agency receives hundreds of submissions every month. Parents submit their children to the agency because of word of mouth, social media, or workshops we've  done. So although I hate to do it, I have no problem with removing a young actor from my roster because of issues with the parents. You are ruining your child's career before it even starts. Relationships are very important in this industry. The moral of the story is, LISTEN TO YOUR AGENT!

Dorecia Carr
Owner/Agent at YJB Talent

"There is purpose in your pain...."

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