Frederick Levy, Management 101
I wish every client asked this question. Representing actors is a team effort, and actors who simply sit by the phone waiting for it to ring are not going to succeed.
The most important thing an actor can do to help me is prepare for auditions. Nothing is more frustrating than when I hound casting for a time for my client, and then the client goes in and underwhelms them in the audition room. Whether you have a few days or less than 24 hours to prepare, utilize this time wisely. Cancel plans, call in sick to your job, and focus on doing amazing work in the audition room. Prepare as if you've already booked the job and you are showing up on set.
But preparation goes far beyond specific auditions. The truth is, actors should be in class, training and honing their craft on a regular basis, so when the phone does ring with that audition of a lifetime, it's not the first time you've picked up a script in the last month. Acting is a muscle, and like any muscle, the more you work it out, the stronger it will be. Keep your acting muscles toned.
Actors should treat this business as their full-time job. That means they should be spending at least 40 hours a week working on their acting career. If they're not working on set, this might include classes and training, working with scene partners outside of class, analyzing great performances, reading about acting, taking casting director workshops, watching TV shows that are currently in production, working on ancillary skills like dialects and martial arts, etc. Treating this business as a full-time job also means getting to bed at a decent hour during the week and waking up early every day. How many times have clients missed out on same-day auditions because they didn't wake up until noon?
Finally, actors need to check in with me after each audition. It amazes me that clients will ask me to get them feedback on past auditions when they never even told me how they felt it went in the room. Checking in after auditions not only triggers me to place a call to casting for feedback; it also allows me to hear both sides of the story and evaluate what's going on in the room, so if there is a problem, I can help my client identify it and fix it.
Steven Buchsbaum, Los Angeles; Ad Astra Talent Management
The most important thing an actor can do is have trust and faith that your manager believes in you and is doing everything he can to make your career move forward.
Communicate with your manager. If you go to a casting workshop, let him know whom you read for and what the feedback was. I want to know what clients are doing to move their careers forward.
If you're in a play, invite your manager to come watch. If you're working with an acting coach and there's a scene night, invite your manager. The more he can see you work and see your range, the more he realizes what he can submit you for.
Get in touch with yourself. I totally believe in the holistic approach. You should be meditating daily for your success. No manager can give you belief in yourself. Do you believe you have a future in this business? If not, you might want to check out the Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City, run by Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, who is featured in the book "The Secret." He is one of the most inspirational speakers on the globe. If you're trying to get in touch with yourself, look him up.
Invest in yourself. The biggest problem I have with actors is that they don't want to invest in their own careers. Work with your manager to get headshots that look like you and "pop" you. You might be the most talented person in the world, but if your photo's not good, the casting assistants are not going to pull it.
Have patience. This business is a marathon, not a sprint. Every audition is an opportunity for personal growth. If you get an audition, don't worry about booking it or making your manager money. Prepare and give a good read, so the casting office will like your performance. Whether you book it or not is irrelevant. If they like your read, at some point that office will call you back. Audition yourself into the office.
Be a likable person with positive energy. No one in this town wants to cast somebody they don't like. Your manager has to have faith that you know how to walk in a room, give a proper greeting, and not overstay your welcome. Remember, you are representing your manager too.
Finally, don't be desperate. Enjoy life, stay healthy, and enjoy the ride.
Linda Rohe, New York; Coastal Entertainment Productions
There's a lot that actors can do to help managers take them to the next level. For starters, all actors need to have the tools that managers need to pitch them correctly. That means having professional headshots, a professional résumé, and an acting reel. Without the tools, our jobs are impossible.
We also need an open line of communication. Keep me up to date on your schedule, conflicts, and anything else that needs to be booked out. Keep the lines of communication open on projects you want to be submitted for or anything else that warrants our attention.
I would also suggest keeping yourself sharp by taking acting classes, seminars, and meetings with casting directors and agents. It's much easier for me to pitch when a casting director or agent is already familiar with you.
Lastly, I would suggest independent film projects, theater showcases, and other ways to showcase your talent. It's great for me to be able to invite agents and casting directors out to see my clients. I find that the more opportunities and tools I have for my clients, the stronger their rate of success. Management is a cooperative process between the manager and the talent. It's a partnership that needs to flow smoothly in order to succeed.
Suzanne Schachter, New York and Mexico City; Suzelle Enterprises
Make sure your headshot looks like you. Very often actors have their photographs airbrushed or they put on makeup for the shoot. The person who walks in the casting room should be the person in that photograph. It should not be in any way altered or made to look like anyone other than you. We get casting notices and we have to send a match for the character that they're describing. If they say "gorgeous," they want a gorgeous person walking through the door. They don't want someone whose photograph is gorgeous; this is not the modeling business. In modeling, it doesn't matter what you look like; it matters how you photograph. In legit, you need to look like your photo. If you are both a high-fashion model and an actor, you should have two different pictures.
Get to your jobs on time. Always.
Never, never, never lie. This has been a rule of my office for 47 years. I don't want to hear lies. Tell the truth. You cannot argue with the truth. If someone says the most horrendous thing to you but it's the truth, you have to accept it. We know when people are lying.
Try as much as you can to work with your manager: "I can't make it at that hour. Can I make it at another hour?" Your first priority is acting and should always be. Make sure you find a job that is very flexible, so you don't drive your manager crazy trying to get people to change their schedules for you. I use the expression "The tail doesn't wag the dog." You have to accommodate producers, directors, and casting people to make your manager's life easier and also to make it much more conducive to people wanting to meet you, because they know you're easy to work with.
Don't be a diva. Even when you've earned the right to be a diva, don't be one. It doesn't make for a lasting career.
Don't be a legend in your own mind. Always accommodate people. Be kind. Be gracious. It's not enough to be a good actor. You have to be somebody that people want to work with and enjoy working with. We're all making a living here, not just you. Let's do it in harmony.
And don't forget to say thank you.