What Does it Take to Get and Keep an Agent?

When I was doing my live version of my most popular seminar on “How to Get and Keep an Agent”, I’d open with these questions:

“How many of you are currently looking for an agent?” and 70% to 80% of the actors would raise their hands. Then I’d ask “How many of you have an agent, but you’re looking for a better agent?” and most of the remaining hands would go up.

THEN I’d ask “How many of you are here for the ‘how to keep’ part?” And usually one person would raise their hand and often no one at all.

You know what that tells me?  You have an agent problem.

At 90210 Talent I worked with actors that I had never seen perform live in anything.  Yes I watched some demos to get a sense of what their talents were but for the most part I was looking at marketability (more on that later). Talent is in the eye of the beholder and very subjective.  We all have different points of view.  So if you think your talent is what is going to get you an agent, that’s a mistake. But I digress…

I’m simply making the bold statement here that what you think you know about getting (and keeping) an agent isn’t true.  It’s just what you think is true.

This is the part of the process I love to teach the most!  Your breakthrough in securing the right representation for you has less to do with your talent and more to do with your thoughts around what it takes to get one.

I’ve discovered a pretty pervasive scarcity mentality, an adversarial mentality, and worst of all, a hopeless mentality with regard to pursuing agency and/or management representation. This isn’t true for everyone of course, but if you have any negative emotion around gaining a rep or working with your present one, then keep reading this blog on what it’s gonna take for you to flip that switch.  What switch?  The thought process you have around what they’re looking for, your approach and responsibilities, and what it costs in terms of time and money.  Trust me, it’s a LOT easier than you’re making it!

After almost a decade of delivering this course in many formats the problem I’ve determined that most actors have is NOT how to get an agent but how to ATTRACT the right agent for them.

So how do you attract one? Stay tuned!

5 Tips to Rock your Holiday Networking

Snowman-Happy-Holiday-CardThe holidays can be awkward, or you can make them into a huge opportunity by using this time as a platform to network. Most actors take a break or think of this time of year as slow. I say NOW is the time to ramp it up!

The holidays are here now and seem to come earlier every year! For some the dread is starting to set in. And no, I’m not talking about the awkward family gatherings with your fruitcake-wielding in-laws or being relegated to the kids table for a meal you’ve waited a year for.

For many of us, the real terror surrounds holiday networking. So if you’re currently stressing over whether you’re going to look like an idiot wearing a Santa hat or whether it’s appropriate to talk about your acting career at all, you’re not alone.

Oy, all these winter events you have to go to! There are soooo many parties and other opportunities to gather at this particular time of year, so when to go and when not to? Many of us would rather pretend to be sick and stay home drinking eggnog in a darkened room. But in actuality, this is the perfect time to get ahead. All these holiday parties are the prime time to make fresh connections and start the New Year off on the right foot.

Ken Rutkowski, host and president of the Business Rockstars radio show, is a networking veteran who has earned himself the reputation of “the super-connector.” I love finding great info and sharing it with you so please take Ken’s words to heart as if they were my own…because I’m in 100% alignment. Here are his top five tips to network yourself through the holidays.

1. Don’t look at it as “networking” 

View events, social and business as relationship building opportunities and don’t ever ask for money, a job, an audition or anything else for that matter. This is time to create and build rapport ONLY.

2. Pick the right events and be realistic

If the event is only for union members and you’re not one, then don’t go. If the event is at an agent’s office that you are not a client of, then don’t go. Seriously…find the FIT first. If you have a sinking feeling in your gut about attending, then the event is probably not right for you. Go to parties and events where you are certain you will be a part of the right crowd and go with the intention of meeting great people just like you!

3. Dress appropriately 

This is a big one. I can’t tell you how many actor events where I’ve seen pictures on line and say to myself, “Wow, don’t they have a mirror in their house?” At the same time, holiday flair is always a winner. Really know the crowd you’re going to be hanging out with. In general, don’t wear a suit and tie if the event is more casual and vice versa. But jeans with rips in them that look like they need a good wash is a no-no no matter how casual the event is.

4. Bring a wingman or wingwoman.

Two heads are better than one when it comes to meeting people. You’ll be able to cover more ground and have a fallback person to rendezvous with if you need a break. But don’t get stuck…meaning you have to go out on your own to meet new people. If you only end up talking to the person you came with you’ve missed the purpose entirely.

5. Make it about others

Ken became known as a “super-connector” because he was always introducing people to other people. People appreciate it when you do the networking for them. They come to know you as someone who is connected, and gets things done. Take on this role if you have met folks at your event who you think should also meet each other. You’ll be much more remembered by both of those people, especially if they hit it off.

These same tips can also be applied to family gatherings as well with a little tweaking. Not really excited to hang out with your spouses’ Aunt Millie twice removed? Try asking her questions that illicit stories that you could then use in your acting or writing class. You might even be surprised when Millie shares about her nephew the TV Exec who works at CBS…really? Really! Ask questions. That’s the key!

The holidays are an awkward time for almost everyone. Remember, we’re in this together. Stick to these five rules and get ahead this season!

Why Social Media is Nothing Without Creativity

As an actor (or just a “regular” person), gone are the days when you had 500 friends on Facebook and 75 of them clicked a link you posted or made a comment.  Now, you’d be lucky to get five.  Huuummmm…

The landscape of social media has drastically changed in the past three years.  Actor websites that began as powerful platforms to spread information about your latest acting credit, show, or “what’s happening” in your career has turned into the “norm” and congested with too much information that not everyone is interested in. There’s your family (always interested), real-life friends (sometimes interested), industry professionals you WANT to see what’s going on (maybe interested) and your audience, if you have one yet, (perhaps interested if they know you exist).

And now even social media has transformed from an efficient and inexpensive way to use the power of word of mouth, to a virtual mess of a garage sale.  How to sort through it all and TARGET market?

I still think social media is awesome.  Just take it slow and step by step.  AND FOCUS!

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others are completely free services that you can sign up for and use to create a community of passionate fans and eyes on EXACTLY what you are doing when you’re doing it.  But what people — actors, especially — need to do when using social media is to ACT outside the box, and create content that’s worthy of sharing.

Consider how other “regular” businesses used to their names in front of audiences before the internet, before TV, before radio — it was PURE word-of-mouth interaction, a.k.a. real people talking.

How can you do this too?  Combine your word-of-mouth marketing  with social media. Ever go to a live networking event like “Showbiz Thursdays” (formerly First Thursdays) and then let your social media friends and network know about it?  It’s the ability to let hundreds of people at a one time know what you’re up to.

Have you seen an amazing B’way show lately?  How about the latest big movie that everyone ELSE is talking about?  What did you like about it, or not?  If it’s “trending”, it usually makes it something worth talking about. And getting people talking is of course the name of the game.  Forget about what you ate for breakfast, posting pics of random cute animals and giving your opinion on politics or religion…yeah, two areas that are NOT related directly to the services you provide as an actor. (OK, that’s just MY opinion!)  Really, just STOP that!

Real people talking about you in person AND in the social media universe, getting those “eyes” on you is the intended outcome.  Not THAT’s a marketing strategy.

The unique thing about our community is that we are passionate about the arts, entertainment and about sharing. Creating this kind of presence where people pay attention doesn’t happen over night either.  Building trust and a highly-engaged community can take years.  Remember, slow and steady wins this race.

Sit back for a moment and take a look at your career. How can you create a conversation about what you uniquely offer that blends an offline live experience with an online one?  How can you encourage your community  to spread your message for you and have fun while doing it?  Think about the power of combining word-of-mouth communication and also getting new followers or “likes”.  Think about offering something of yourself that other people will want to participate in again and again.

I wish you all the very best this life has to offer, online and off!  To your success, Lisa

First Thursdays – Cartoon Impressions, Silly Poses, and Lots of Fun! 5.3.2012

Wow! Our May First Thursdays Networking Party was packed!  This month we had some new contests for our ACTors.  Brave folks won kudos (and free drinks) by impersonating Family Guy, knew a whole bunch about vocal training trivia, and gave us their very best glamor pose Read more

I Rescued a Human Today

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels.  I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.  I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid.

As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage.  I didn’t want her to know that I hadn’t been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn’t want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn’t feel sad about my past.  I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone’s life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me.  I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.

A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.  Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.  I would promise to keep her safe.  I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.  I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors.  So many more to be saved.  At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

Author – Janine Allen

6 Ways to Conquer the Fear of Rejection

The going price for any worthwhile win is 10 setbacks. If you can handle that failure rate, you have what it takes to succeed.

Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, Alfred Hitchcock and Richard Burton never won an Oscar.  Babe Ruth was never named Most Valuable Player.  Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson all lost elections for the presidency before they won one.  Losers?  No. Legends.

Early in my career, when I was struggling actress, I made a list of all the roles in musical theater I wanted to perform.  Some, I admit, were far out of my reach, (to young, too old, not enough dance skills, wrong color, not the right chops, ugh!), and I wasted tons of time wishing and hoping it weren’t so.

If you’re in the acting game you better get used to hearing the word “no.” If thinking that becoming a successful, heck (really?), even wealthy and famous actor was easy, everyone would want in (ooops…sooooo many do! ). Rejection helps knock out the weak. In my case, those early rejections forced me to really listen to my potential in the marketplace and find out what I needed to do and change in order to transform the “no, thanks” to “where do I sign?”

You can’t escape rejection.  You can only let it go.  Here are some exercises that paid off for me big time:

  • Dissect thoughts under the microscope. When faced with a challenge, what do you tell yourself?  “I’m no good . . . this is too hard . . . I’ll never make it . . .?”  Don’t let negative self-talk sabotage your attitude.
  • Identify realistic fears. Whom do you fear?  What might go wrong?  Who has the power to reject you?  Why would that person say no?  The answers will help you prepare your best, and facing them will help you keep your composure.
  • Focus on the moment. Keep your perspective.  Rejection lasts only a moment, and once it’s over, you’ll be able to move on to the next opportunity.
  • Be more assertive. Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people.  Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions.  Learn to express your own needs (appropriately), and say no when you genuinely can’t be of value or when you know you can’t fulfill.
  • Analyze every failure, but never wallow in one. Harry Truman once said, “As soon as I realize I’ve made one damned fool mistake, I rush out and make another one.”  Failure is a condition all of us experience.  It’s our reaction to our failures that distinguishes winners from losers.
  • Don’t rationalize away the hurt. Turned down for the gig? Didn’t get the contract?  No call back, or even a call period?  Lost out to your biggest competition?  Don’t let your worth be defined by others.  Get back in the game.  It’s not a permanent condition; it’s a short-term setback.

Ten setbacks are the going price for any worthwhile win. I LOVE statistics so look at the major league baseball standings at the end of any season: Out of 30 teams, only eight make the playoffs, and only one winds up winning the World Series. Out of all of the guys on the team (by the way, no women!) how many can you name?  There are the players in the Major Leagues and then there are the STARS.  In the end, the annual standings show that there are 29 losing teams and thusly hundreds/thousands of losers?  Hardly.  Really?  Come on!  Are you in the GAME or not?  In my book the only way you’re not is quitting, and YOU’RE not a quitter, are you?

Lisa’s Moral of the Story:  Don’t get dejected if you’ve been rejected. Just get your skills perfected!

First Thursdays – Oscar Goes to the Dogs! Shhhhhhush, Quiet! 2.27.2012

What an amazingly wonderful evening we had at our 2nd annual Black Tie, Red Carpet Oscar soiree!  The Best Picture winner wasn’t a surprise if you saw “The Artist” and some notable winners were fan favorites of new and old.  Our own Act Outside the Box community enjoyed the company of Industry Guest Jamibeth Margolis, who I’ve known personally and socially since she was Read more

Directors and Agent attended February 2012 First Thursdays Networking Party

First Thursdays – A warm spot in a suddenly cold week 2.2.2012


Elana Mudgen, Tracy Costa, and Shirley Faison What a great time we had a February’s First Thursdays!  We had so many newbies show up and each one of them networked with the class and style our industry guests have come to expect.  The room was a buzz with news of the AFTRA/SAG merger and the upcoming Super Bowl (GO GIANTS!!!). I’d like to thank Elana Mugdan for bringing along the FABULOUS Bill Connington and of course Read more

First Thursdays – Kick Off to the New Year! 1.5.2012

I can’t believe it!  You partied without me and it inspires me to know that the turnover of this event to Tracy Costa was FLAWLESS!   Fabulous industry guests attended and grace us with the present of their presence this new year.  Nadette Stasa, CD with Background/Foreground generously gave every actor in the room the opportunity to qualify to take her 3 week on-camera commercial class for F*R*E*E.  And as a special bonus treat for all, actor Richard Kline, probably most famous for playing gold chain wearing, chest hair baring, neighbor Larry to Jack, Chrissy and Janet on the 70’s hit Three’s Company stole the show, ahem, party!  Way to go Tracy, way to go!  I can’t wait to come back for a visit in February for the Oscars!  Can’t wait and miss you all, Lisa.  CLICK HERE to see all the pics from our Holiday party!

5 Minute Overview Answering Many Questions

Hi all you fabulous ACT-ion oriented actors. Take a peek at this wonderful interview I did several years ago with on the Business of Show.  It stands the test of time and I look exactly the same today, LOL. Though the events mentioned at the end of the interview are no longer running, so many new things have been created since the interview first premiered and even more amazing things are ahead.

Actors have all kinds of questions and several of them are answered in this quick 5 minute overview of what the industry is REALLY looking for when seeking talent for their projects.

Get the insider scoop and return to this blog often for many tips, hints, beneficial info and how to further your BUSINESS as an actor.

If you have questions, particularly about getting an agent or manager, I’d love to have you put them in the comments below.  I’ll do my best to answer as I’m always wondering if I’m covering the bases of what you want to learn most.  Thanks!