The most successful actors have control over their own careers. Sure, a great agent will help boost your chances of getting booked. But oftentimes, business relationships with your Hollywood agent can take a nosedive especially when they’re handling multiple talents at the same time.
To survive the often-cutthroat industry of Hollywood, an actor needs to be able to tap into his or her own entrepreneurial skills. This means you need to treat your career as a startup business. To help you with that, here are the basic steps to becoming your own Hollywood agent.
Get excited: it’s time to be your own representation!
1. Make yourself visible to the right people.
A mentor of mine once told me that casting directors, directors, and producers are people just like you and me. They put their pants on one leg at a time and they want to do their jobs in the very best possible way. So if you’re excellent at what you do and can provide something of value (acting), make yourself visible to them.
Actors always seem to make the mistake of trying to approach a career-maker by offering nothing but their headshot. I’m sorry, but the world doesn’t work like that. Nobody likes a taker. Remember you are a business and approach your career like a one with an equal exchange of goods.
Most actors are talented enough to do a number of things so take a moment to think about what you can trade in value. I’ve excelled in fitness and trained thousands of people over the years. I built it into a business and offered it to production companies. The beauty of it all? I didn’t have to ask for anything. I got paid for my services and got to do the best thing an actor should do if they’re going to be their own agent—build relationships.
2. Build industry relationships.
An actor or performer is also a salesperson. Taking the concept of offering value for value, don’t hesitate to sell yourself to the director you’ve been wanting to work with. Another great thing salespeople do well is cold call and pitch themselves. Call that production company or casting office and tell them why they should hire you. This is where your agent side comes in.
A great agent is pitching you to production companies highlighting all the reasons you’re right for their projects. Who says you can’t do this? Yes it takes guts, but the payoff is so much bigger. Hollywood is all about relationships and it’s your job to build them without an agent. Until you’re an A-lister, you need to do it on a regular basis. Remember you’re selling yourself at the end of the day and creating a million reasons why people should want to work with you.
3. Be willing to take jobs that bring you closer to the action.
Contrary to popular belief, as an actor there are times you have to leave your ego behind and be willing to take a job not in front of the camera. It may not be your ultimate dream, but think about how much you can learn about the way a set and production works in the meantime, and the relationships you’ll build.
I’ve been a stand-in, boom operator, production assistant, and transportation driver that got me alone time in a car with the executive producer and consulting producer. None of these jobs made me any less of an actor. What they did do was help me to act as my own agent and build industry contacts I’m still friends with to this day.
4. Treat your career like a business.
When you wake up in the morning, you have to be thinking like an agent. You should have a list of production offices you’re going to call, emails you’re going to make, coffee meetings you’re going to have and at the end of the day, you’ve got to evaluate what’s working and what’s not.
Find mentors, think up creative ways you can change things up to create success. Tell everyone you’re an actor, you’re talented, and you’re always looking for work that highlights the awesome performer you are.
As a business, you have to think progressively. Where do I see my acting career in six months? What needs to happen in order for those goals to unfold? Who do I need to become to make it a reality? Your best friend will always be your ability to observe and look introspectively at the way things are manifesting for you. When you’re doing this, you’re treating your career like a business and you're acting as your own agent.
Absolutely nothing can stand in your way if you’re committed to succeeding in this industry. One thing to remember is that success has an unlimited number of pathways. Just because someone did it one way doesn’t mean there aren’t a thousand other ways to get it done. Above all else, believe in yourself like your life depends on it. This will give you the confidence to approach anyone and sell yourself as the wonderful actor you are. If you can’t find an agent in Hollywood, there’s no reason you can’t be your own!
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