In episode 14 of Casting Frontier’s Bring It! series, the Action Casting team—casting veteran James Levine and session director/actor Charles Carpenter—discuss how to determine if your representation is actually benefiting your career.

Do you have an agent but find yourself wondering why you’re not being called out on auditions? If so, Levine says, “You may have the wrong agent.” One way performers will know their actor-agent relationship isn’t properly aligned is if they continuously hear their agent saying, “Audition opportunities are slow out there,” instead of receiving calls to audition. Indeed, James sets the record straight, saying, “It’s not always slow.”

Possible issues that can interfere with the actor-agent relationship include:

Problems with headshots. Headshots can negatively impact an actor’s career in a number of ways. One common complaint is the photo doesn’t accurately reflect the actor’s current appearance. If wrinkles have been photoshopped away in an attempt to appear flawless, or your hairstyle in real life is considerably different from the picture, it presents problems when it’s time to submit headshots to casting. Another common obstacle occurs when the various types an actor is fit to play are not demonstrated in the photos. This can limit the kinds of roles the agent sees the actor playing and thus stunt the roles for which the agent submits the actor.

Your agent doesn’t know what distinguishes you from other actors. If your agent doesn’t “get” what makes you unique, know your brand, or really grasp your personality, skill set, and range, then he or she is not going to be able to help you reach your highest potential. Levine explains, “They don’t see you in a way that’s effective, so it never gets to me as a submission.”

Carpenter is a working actor who understands what it’s like to be frustrated with an agent all too well. Earlier in his career, he considered his agent to be a friend; however, this agent never seemed to send him out on auditions. He asserts, “You don’t want to find an agent that’s your friend. You want to find an agent that’s going to work for you.” In fact, he shed that agent and found another one, and it was just what he needed to propel his career. “I want someone who’s a tiger, who’s going to work for me; they are there,” he insists.

To sum it up: If your agent isn’t working for you, or it just isn’t working out together … move on! Keep shopping!

Here are some actors who are glad they didn’t let experts stop them right from the start.

  • Meryl Streep was told she wasn’t beautiful enough for the screen early in her career.
  • Harrison Ford was told by film executives he didn’t have what it took to succeed as an actor.
  • Marilyn Monroe tuned out her modeling agents who said she should pursue work as a secretary or get married instead of becoming a model.
  • Elvis Presley’s performance manager suggested Elvis return to his previous career as a truck driver. “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son,” he told the rising star.

Determined to help actors cut through the mystery associated with the casting process, James Levine authored an enlightening book entitled Bring It! along with Charles Carpenter and Jim Martyka, which will be released digitally in the near future. In the book, Levine shares helpful audition information from the vantage point of a casting director as it relates to commercial, film, and television acting. The book’s chapters correspond to the Bring It! video series.

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