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Dear Douchebag,

“My agent is discouraging me from doing theatre. I am an actor! I must act! And, they have not been sending me out much, so I don’t see what the problem is! Help me, DD!”

Sincerely,

Discouraged

 

The dilettante douchebag responds,

Dear Discouraged,

So go act already. If your agent doesn’t like it, get a different agent. They work for you.

 

David S. Hogan responds,

Dear Discouraged,

Your agent wants you to go out there and book the jobs they send you on so they can earn their cut (10 – 20 percent). If you are out there, working on the stage, you are not going to be available for your agent now, are you? If you are too busy to go out and *attempt* to earn money for yourself and your agent via auditioning, well, then, maybe…maybe you should consider not having an agent.

Okay, let me ease up on you a bit.

For some actors, especially if you are in the union (AEA), your employment in the theater might be fairly lucrative. Or, at least a way to pay the bills for a few months. So, your desire to act, when paired with the necessity to earn a living, is a valid reason to take yourself away from agency work–*possible* agency work. If your agent took you on knowing full well that you were an active theatre actor, then your occasional work in the theatre should not bug them that much. Hopefully, you were up front with them when you first embarked on your path together.

For me, as an actor working in Seattle, I have made the decision to work on the stage only once per year. (There are exceptions, of course.) Why? The typical stage job lasts 8 weeks–sometimes longer–and that commitment gets in the way of commercial and “theatrical” bookings (film/TV). And I want to book agency/non-theatre work! I know many actors who have been released from their agency simply because they could not make themselves available enough. Yes, they were working. Yes, they were acting. But, they were making no money for the agency. I can almost guarantee that if you don’t sit down and discuss this issue with your agent, things will get worse. You will be sent out less often, forgotten, and possibly, released. Good luck and happy acting!

 

Have a question for the douchebag? Send your question to: deardouchebag@dilettantedouchebag.com. We’ll be with you shortly.

 

6 Comments

  1. The Other thing that happens is, sometimes if agents have two people of the same name for instance, say he has two David’s they are pretty similar. Sometimes they will deliberately keep one of them “one the shelf” while they promote the other one and they say those kinds of things. It’s better to have a manager rather than an agent; someone that can manage your whole career. Just my 2 cents.

  2. Samuel Laseke

    I know virtually nothing of agents so take it for what it’s worth. I once shot a commercial for a children’s acting camp. The parents were all hanging out discussing what they would buy with their children’s money if their agent would ever get their kids working. A few of the parents children were working all the time. The others were so angry because their kids were not getting paid jobs or even free jobs.

    As the cinematographer and an amateur director I could tell the parents exactly why their kids were not getting any work. It was really quite simple. The kids that were getting paid were amazing actors. The kids that were not getting paid had potential as actors but needed a lot more experience. The kids not getting any work should have never been represented by an agent because they had zero skill or experience.

    I hear all the time actors deserve to get paid. Well I completely disagree. Professional actors deserve to get paid. Just as professional directors and DoP’s and Crew deserve to get paid. So I would ask others signed with your agent if they are getting regular work. If their not chances are your agent is not a pro and can’t get you paid. If they are getting regular work then it’s time to ask your agent what you need to fix. That’s right you may be the problem. It’s a strange idea I know but some times we just need to recognize that we are sabotaging our own careers or our skills are not good enough that anyone is willing to hire us for something they feel is unprofessional work. That is in my opinion the most over used word in this entire industry. Assuming that you are truly a professional and highly skilled actor I would question why your not in high demand. Chances are high it’s a problem with you and not your agent. Although it could just be your agent isn’t any good or both. Just my opinion which I base on almost nothing at all.

  3. dilettante douchebag

    The best opinions are based on nothing.

    But I think you’ve brought up a great point Samuel. We are saturated in a culture of entitlement, and we think we deserve great things simply because we are unique and special and monstrously talented. Not a lot of people are that great. If we can turn the focus on ourselves and our own abilities and getting better we will go a long way toward getting what we want.

    People who are really good can usually find work, even when the market is tough.

  4. dilettante douchebag

    I think Samuel should write an article in the voice of Sgt. Gunny: “You’re not good enough, maggot!”

  5. I think one of the beautiful things about grounded Seattle is that I know zero self-entitled actors. I’m probably the most out of everyone. And maybe Sutherland. If your agent has hired you, is keeping you on, and you aren’t getting work, perhaps it’s your head shot, your resume, something you’re doing in the audition room. Or, perhaps, it’s just a bad streak.

    That is sincerely odd they would discourage you from theater! Where are you gonna get your chops, bro? But I’d listen to what David has to say, cause home boy is one of my favorite performers to watch on stage. He’s amazing. And if he is making some tough calls on that front, we should all listen closely.

    I know an actress named Trin that is incredible and does not have an agent and works more than anyone else I know. It can be done, especially if you’re non union. Follow your heeeeeart! And break lots of legs, preferably in character shoes.

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