8 Tips for a Better Agent Interview

6404028Recently a friend’s agent was holding interview/auditions by appointment and her reader fell through last minute. I jumped at the opportunity to step in and be her reader for the day because (Free Tip): any time you get the chance to step behind the table, you should drop everything and do it because you will ALWAYS learn something. Spoiler: I did, and I am going to tell you about it.

You guys. I saw a lot of really unfortunate, unprofessional behavior. (Read: I saw a lot of people who will not get signed). The good news is you can be better than that! Interviews and auditions for agents can be intimidating, but if you just keep some basics in mind, they don’t have to be a train wreck. In fact, Louie, they can be the beginning of a beautiful professional relationship.

1. Be Nice to the Reader. In all probability, the reader will be the one to come out to the waiting room or hallway and call you in. This is your first chance to make a good impression. Aside from human kindness and civility just being generally advisable, it is important to remember that the agent with whom you are seeking representation likely knows the reader. They may be friends or colleagues. Even if they are strangers, they are probably going to talk smack about you the second you are out of earshot. (Just kidding. Kind of). The point is, if the agent asks the reader for an opinion, you want the reader to have only good things to say about you.

2. Bring the Proper Materials. I was completely blown away by how many young actors came in without a hard copy of their headshot and resume. Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter if you emailed them your stuff already. It doesn’t matter if their office is “going green.” As a professional actor, there is no reason you should not be prepared to hand over your headshot and resume as soon as you walk through the door. Trust me, it makes you look so bad when they ask you for your materials and you come up empty.

3. When You Walk in the Room…I know you’ve heard it a million times: you’re auditioning from the second you walk in the room. But for real, guys. It’s true. Agents are human, and they want to have an idea of the kind of person they will be working with just as much as the kind of actor they will be representing. So do whatever you need to do to come in relaxed and ready to show off your personality. The second you walk in, be ready to greet them in a warm, professional manner. Have a hand free in case they are the hand-shaking type. Take your cues from them. Be fully present, and don’t try to be someone you’re not. If at all possible, try to have a little fun.

4. Assume You Will Have to Read. This was another weird one for me—once or twice when I introduced myself as a reader in the hall, actors were surprised by the possibility they might be required to read. This is one you should just always be prepared for. Any time you are meeting prospective representation, assume they will want to see if you can act. Even if you have sent in tapes. Even if it’s just called an “interview” and no one has specifically mentioned auditioning. Be prepared for a cold read. If you want to be a step ahead of the game, bring a couple sides that show you off in case of emergency (with extra copies for the reader).

5. Know your Type…And be able to spit it out concisely and specifically. This will most likely come up, so be ready with at least two things. (For example: “I generally get cast as sassy best friends and teenage burn-outs”).

6. Be Ready and Trained. They are going to want to know that you are still working on your craft, so if you aren’t currently in a class, sign up for one before you go in. Or at the very least, take a few workshops, so when they ask “who are you studying with,” you won’t answer with a blank stare. Also, take a class because, you know…you’ll learn stuff.

7. Know Where You Want Your Career to Go. This is a potential business relationship. So before you ever make the appointment, figure out what your career goals are. Be prepared to be flexible, of course, but you don’t want to show up looking like you just wandered into showbiz without a map. Be ready to let them know that you will be working just as hard on your end of the partnership.

8. Take Your Leave. Leaving the room is the last impression you make, and it is just as important as the first. Be respectful and friendly, say thank you, say goodbye to the reader as well, and leave them thinking that you are the sort of person with whom they’d like to work.

BONUS TIP: Even if you don’t get signed, remember that this may not be your last chance. Keep track of when you auditioned, and follow up in six months (preferably after you have taken on new classes and new projects). If you’re serious about breaking in, be ready to play the long con. (But be less con-artisty about it. Nobody likes a manipulator).

Interviews are often less formal and rushed than normal auditions. Use this to your advantage. Take the time to relax, be personal, and have a little fun. Remember that this is your choice too, so see what kind of rapport you are likely to have with your potential agent. They want you to be the right person. So set yourself up for success. These rules can really apply to any meeting with industry professionals, and the longer you work professionally, the more they should become second nature.

 

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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at www.rachelfrawley.com