Hey J! Ask the Agent: I don’t want it!

Hey J!

My agent sends me to a lot of auditions but to be honest, most of them are for jobs I don’t want. What should I do?

Thanks,  Jason.

I’m presuming your agent isn’t sending you to auditions that are dangerous, illegal or unsafe – that they’re just not really your bag, not your cup of tea? It happens! It takes time for the actor/agent relationship to really click and for the agent to have a comprehensive understanding of what you want and need for your career. There’s a difference, of course, between a job that you’re doing to pass some time or make rent and a job that makes your heart beat a little faster, right?

Notwithstanding that it’s very unlikely that every job you go for is going to make your heart beat faster – I think it’s still reasonable to expect that in amongst the jobs you’re going for, there’s a least a few that you really want. So, as I’m fond of saying, the first step is to communicate with your agent. Your agent is, of course, running a business. They have overheads to meet and bills to pay and having clients out of work isn’t likely to help that. Your agent wants you to be working – we earn commission only when you’re in work.

With all my clients there’s a period of getting to know each other. I like to find out what they’re really interested in and really into – as opposed to what they think they should be into. Sometimes what a client wants to do is quite far removed from what they think they ought to do. There’s an old saying that no actor wants to be a star but that every agent wants to sign one and I think there can be a grain of truth in that. An agent may want a client with above the name billing and who commands an eye watering fee but an actor may have other priorities- telling an important story, working in a challenging way, originating something new, reinventing something tired. It’s my role to explain my perspective on a job and to offer my considered thoughts but I have to allow the client to make up their own mind – after all, it’s their career, not mine.

Your agent wants you working, yes, but more than that, your agent wants you working in a job that you enjoy. Life is so much less stressful when I have clients who are happy in their jobs. It’s in my interest then to hear updates from my clients about what they’re enjoying auditioning for and, perhaps even more importantly, what they’re not enjoying auditioning for. Don’t be afraid to check in with your agent and talk about your experiences of auditioning – tell them what went well and what didn’t and tell them if you’re not feeling the work you’re going on for. Maybe you’re auditioning for commercials all the time and you want something different. Perhaps you’re a great singer but keep going to the kind of musical theatre auditions that require a level of dance you don’t have. Maybe you’ve done a lot of understudying and want to change things up. Whichever way the wind is currently blowing for you, let your agent know about it. If you’re developing an interest in physical theatre, mention to your agent that you want to explore this. Working with your agent won’t completely eradicate all the auditions that simply don’t excite you, but talking to your agent makes sure they’re on the same page as you and that you are, slowly, moving in the direction you want. 

Like all relationships, the actor agent relationship improves with time and communication. Make time to communicate.

Stay connected. Stay creative.

J

Got a question? Email JBR at [email protected]

JBR

JBR is a UK Talent Agent based in London. He began his career as a child performer in the 1980’s and has spent more than three decades in the industry exploring creativity and working across a number of fields. He has been an actor, a director, a writer, a designer, a drag queen, a producer, a dramaturg, a teacher, a comedy booker, a publican, a marketing manager and an agent. He runs JBR Creative Management working with a small group of multi-platform creatives. JBR's first book, Getting, Keeping And Working With Your Acting Agent will be published by Nick Hern Books on May 27th 2021 and is now available to preorder.

JBR

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