One of my clients, an edgy young woman who resembled a darker version of Avril Lavigne, was once repped by an agency in Los Angeles, who consistently sent her out for the wrong roles. In a single year, she went out for around 30+ roles in the “young mom” category. Nothing could have been more off-base for this actor. In all fairness to her agency, they submitted her for these roles, because she had one headshot online which made her look like a young mom, ready to pack some school lunches. The agency would submit with that picture (which was very good and popped successfully from the thousands of other submissions), my client would get called in for the young mom role, would grudgingly go to the audition dressed and prepared to read for a young mom; the casting office would sense how ill-fitting she was for the part, and she wouldn’t book it. This cycle would repeat for months—for a year exactly, until the agency dropped her because she almost never booked.
Now, unfortunately, this is a common tale for actors all over the country. If your reps are consistently sending you out on the wrong roles and projects, you need to take responsibility for this as well. I’ve mentioned in previous articles how I deplore “niche” or “type” when discussing actors and their careers. Those terms are mostly used by industry charlatans looking to steal actor’s watches and sell them back to them in the form of trashy “career counseling.” They only serve to box an actor’s individuality into someone else’s stale notion of type. At the same time, you still need to be able to verbalize the parts that you are right for, and you need to be able to verbalize this to your representatives so that they know how to submit you.
Thus, just because we don’t believe in boxing you into a “niche” or “type,” that doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily be able to get your representatives on board with this, or that we’ll even be able to get them to fathom the idea that you are more than a type.
It’s important that everyone on your team have a clear understanding of your singularity as an actor—the thing that nobody does better than you! For example, my friend and colleague, manager TJ Stein (owner of Stein Entertainment Group), sets the bar high when it comes to knowing their talent. TJ brings all of his clients into the office multiple times throughout the year to present work for the entire team. The goal is to prevent the team from becoming desensitized, and to prevent them from putting their clients in neat, confining, and ultimately, career-stunting boxes. Thus, clients are brought in throughout the year to perform scenes to showcase their work in the most varied possible mannerso that their reps are constantly aware of how they are growing and developing as artists.
Unfortunately, not every agency is as responsible as this one. That’s OK. If you’re not being submitted for the roles that you’re absolutely right for, you need to do the following:
1. Make sure your headshots online aptly capture this singularity of yours, and correct them accordingly if necessary. While actors generally have the hardest job in town, being an agent or manager is no picnic either. It’s in your best interest to sympathize with their struggles, and to give them the best tools possible to get you in the door. And this starts with having recent, fresh, quality headshots up online that they can use to submit you appropriately for those parts that you’re right for.
2. Put yourself on tape throughout the year. Not for a part, but as a creative means of staying in touch with your reps. Select a scene you love that showcases you in the best possible way, or in a new possible way, and put it on tape. You know that friend that’s always asking you for agent/manager referrals? Get her to play opposite you as a way for your reps to see her face and abilities.
Seeing you excel in a new way can give your reps the confidence to submit you for a larger number of parts that you’re right for, and that you do best. Just as no one has a sh*t-eating grin quite like Jack Nicholson, there’s something singularthat you convey, that no other actor can touch. It’s your job to make sure your reps understand what this is, and be able to act on it.
This article was originally posted on Backstage