Friday, 14 October 2011

Secret Agent

When at drama school, the talk for most of the three years based around getting an agent. When you're training, you think it's the most important thing since they sliced bread and they realised they could make much money out of it. Being agentless seemed like the worst thing on Earth. Those who didn't get interest in the third year were pitied and whispered about. Gossip spread backstage behind curtains and was discussed in dressing room mirrors. How could they possibly work without someone being in charge of their careers? Surely their three years had been spent in vain and they would just be aimlessly wandering the streets, their character shoes worn through and their copy of Contacts in tatters.

Of course, I've since learnt that not having an agent isn't the worst thing in the world. I had sadly pitched up in the 'any agent is better than no agent' camp when I left and therefore signed up with the first one that was interested. Had someone warned me that they would go months without getting in touch, that they'd shout at me when I wasn't available to go to a casting with an hour's notice and that they'd repeatedly put me up for the part of an extra then I'd have run for the hills. I'd have never gone to the meeting where we discussed my bra size for far too long and instead I'd have run off with my awful headshot in one hand (it caused someone to liken me to a pigeon) and my desperately sparse CV in the other. My agent was terrible. He had the thickest Northern Irish accent that the world will ever know which meant I repeatedly misheard what I was going up for. He never listened when I said I didn't want to be an extra and over the course of three years, he managed to secure me two jobs. Nearly all the work I did was found by myself so he was basically pointless. The day we finally parted ways was more joyous than you can imagine.

I've always been quite happy finding my own work. I can be completely in control of what I do and I know that I won't have an audition suddenly sprung upon me. However, my desire to spend my life doing student films is low and that means finding someone who can give you a leg up so you can struggle up to the next rung of this very slippery ladder. So, today I went for a meeting with an agency. And bloody lovely they were too. The journey there was far from perfect and went along in normal Miss L fashion. I was first nearly killed by a falling suitcase at Highgate station. Then, around the corner from the office, I was forced to make the choice of running under a cascade of water due to industrial window-cleaning or to dash out in front of constant speeding buses and lorries (the option to the cross the road was also present but we'll ignore that one.) Once I safely arrived at the office we had a 10-15 minute chat about what I was looking to do and what they could offer, I performed a monologue (this was my modern speech as requested, I didn't just suddenly launch into a lecture on the rights of women in the 1800s) and then we parted ways. I now have to wait until Monday to hear whether they're still interested which will mean I can basically write-off Monday as I spend every other second checking my phone, email and making sure that they work.

I came away from the meeting suddenly feeling very positive about having someone to look after me a little bit. The idea of being completely independent and in control of your career is a lovely notion but having someone to hold your hand as they deal with the big kids in the playground is a far nicer prospect. Hopefully my hand won't be empty for too much longer.


  1. Check out the book Self-management for Actors by Bonnie Gillespie and her blog Actors Voice as well. Covers everything you need to know not only about the business side of acting. Totally enlightening and a must read!

  2. And, I forgot to tell you, there is going to be a seminar of the book Self-management for Actors in London during the next year, check it out here