3 Reasons Why You Don't Have an Agent Who Fights for You & How to Fix ItPROBLEM1. You don't have enough training. Agents go to MFA showcases first looking for talent. After that, they go to shows in the city produced by theatres or actors self-producing themselves to showcase their work.
SOLUTIONGet an MFA on the Go: Get a coach and train every week in the primary kind of work you want to start working in immediately. This is super important for film/tv for which there is no rehearsal, so if you don't coach before auditions or getting on set, you've essentially not been rehearsed.
This method is cheaper than going to grad school and you can pay as you go. Lots of coaches have payment plans, just ask.
PROBLEM1. No experience or professional credits on your resume Agents are looking to see who's hired you in the past so they can call them for a recommendation, but also determine if you're actually going to book work that makes them money.
SOLUTIONHow do you get credits if you can't book an acting job because you don't have an agent that gets you out?
Do you have a reel?
Do you have TV shows that you love and know you're right for?
▪ Start pulling scenes. Get coaching on those scenes.
▪ Get a TV ready outfit, hair and make up and then go to a great videographer (I love Brent Katz's work, high quality footage that looks like a real TV set because he's a real film/tv editor) and have him put you on tape auditioning.
▪ Then load that tape to utube, your website, your facebook page and IMDB.
Can't book any TV/Film?
- Write a webseries or short film
▪ Hire a writer to write a short film for you
▪ Do a KickStarter and Raise the money to hire a team (director/producer/writer) who has successfully made short films before so they can walk you through the process.
That's your first credit.
PROBLEM1. You have no relationships with Casting Directors. Casting Directors can pick up the phone and call an agent on your behalf if they like your work and that agent will sign you. Because the single most important factor in getting an audition is having a relationships with a casting director.
SOLUTIONHow do you build those relationships?
▪ Target your top 3 shows.
▪ Pull scenes from those shows and put them on your reel.
▪ Find out where the casting folks who cast for those shows are teaching and try and take 2-3 classes with them in a 6 month period.
▪ Get coached on every single one of those scenes before you do work in front of a casting director in those classes. Those classes are auditions, not a place for you to learn how to act.
Got questions? Fill out this short survey and we promise to answer your questions. Or reply to this email with questions!
Love, Light & Power,
April & TheDreamUnLocked Team
P.S. Stay tuned for a special announcement about a freebie pop-up class about how to get an agent in 3 months or less.
""""One of the most mortifying moments I experienced in my theatrical career was when I was asked to bring the entirely African-American cast of a new musical we were workshopping, a new piece by an African-American librettist and composer, across the street to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and up into the plush boardroom so they could perform a song or two for the board of directors. I wanted to say something, but I didn't. For one thing, it would take an invaluable 45 minutes to an hour out of the creative team's limited time together. But... every year we had to do the same old song and dance for the board to remind them that yes, we did do new plays and musicals, so yes, it was sometimes a good idea to expose the board to new voices, to the vibrancy of an exciting work in progress.
You all know where this is going, don't you? I led the team in. The talent in that team! The writer/composer himself and the cast, lauded veterans of the stage and the most promising members of the next generation of acting giants. And there was our board. White, as white as can be, white white white white. And very comfortable. They'd just been served lunch, I believe. My theater spared no expense in pleasing our board and catering to their demands (oh my god, I'm feeling such rage right now! I'm pretty sure we had a staff member who was mostly dedicated to help our richest board members get house seats to shows on Broadway and the West End. But I digress...)
The only black face in the audience seated at the conference table? The only person of color? The head of our education department, of course. My heart went out to her.
The cast sang a song from the show. They did it. And they brought it. Because they were and are professionals. And the very pillars of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion reverberated down to the parking lot. It was breathtaking.
And I had just been complicit in the remaking of a scene for the millionth time: black bodies and voices entertaining white audiences, an institution raising money on the backs and voices of black bodies.
I was too mortified to apologize to our writer and to our cast, none of whom, I should add, expressed even an iota of discomfort. They were professionals, and they shone. And come to think of it, they'd probably all become accustomed to this scene. "It's just how theater works," they might have thought with a shrug of their shoulders. Or maybe they seethed inside, for the millionth time, when all they were trying to do is workshop a new musical.
Well, I apologize sincerely now to our writer and those actors. I wish I had had the courage to put my foot down. It is not how theater should work.
I quit the American theater on Valentine's Day 2016, so I've been out more than four years now. And honestly I don't plan to return, which is why I can write with such candor.
The heart of the problem, my friends, is with the non-profit structure, which is capitalism on steroids. Who are the bosses ultimately in an American institutional theater? The board of directors. Who are the board of directors? For the most part, those members of the community not with the strongest attachment to the art form but those with the deepest pockets. Often they're really not members of the community. They often just drop in. They are sometimes mere tourists.
It's no wonder that that board meeting was held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The theater, like most American theaters, had built its board of directors on the old opera model: You get the richest folks together, offer them galas and house seats and receptions and private recitals and showings (for which artists often don't get paid extra, mind you), you pamper them and make them feel more special and entitled than they already do, and then they'll write you big checks to support the kind of art they like, the kind of art they can bring their kids and grandkids to. AND they--not the artists, not the community--get to hire the institution's leadership.
It is a rotten model. Rotten to the core. How can any artistic institution claim to be working for and in the community with that model?
It's got to be torn down. It's got to be reinvented. And I have no idea what the next model will be. I really don't. And no, honestly I don't think government is the solution frankly. Some of the most bloated, self-satisfied, decadent theater I've ever seen was in Germany, where it was almost fully government-funded. Lots of bells and whistles and provocations and completely soul-dead.
I see amazing and galvanizing lists of demands recently being made and posted by theater artists of color. These are vital demands. But they don't address the central issue. As long as the ultimate bosses of an artistic institution remain the community's deepest pockets, nothing will change. Nothing. You'll be putting band-aids on a gaping wound. Sorry, but it's true.
So please figure something else out. Maybe for a few years you just avoid the institutions. You've already started. In the pandemic, so many of you are making amazing art without an institution. Find those who truly adore your work and ask them to fund it. Screw non-profit. Form a corporation and value your art art-making as a resource that profits you, your viewers/audience and your community. I have no idea.
But please don't return to a new version of the old. After the virus, after he's out of office, after police reform and nationwide conversations about race, after, after, after, begin something new. I can't wait to see what it is!”
Words: Pier Carlo Talenti
Video: Griffin Matthews
April Yvette Thompson