"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dear Struggling Actress

Rachel said:
Hi, Lira! I've got a question!

Though I've wanted to be an actor since I was very young, I started taking serious steps at thirteen, eventually getting an agent in a nearby city. They were a small boutique agency and didn't really send me out for anything big. But I was fifteen and still learning the ropes, I decided that it was my speed for that moment.
In the following years, I felt like I wanted to move up in the agency world and started sending out my headshot and resume to agents in Philadelphia and NY, along with cover letters. A rather prestigious NY agent came to a show that I was in at a dinner theatre and did a workshop with us. She asked me to contact her when my vocals were stronger; she seemed to like my acting as it was. I desperately wanted her to rep me.
Though it was difficult, I made myself wait and train for two more years before I contacted her again. When I did, I mentioned in my cover letter what she had said to sixteen year old me and also noted that I was currently performing in my first Equity show. I was told that I was not in the group she wanted to contact for an interview.
I decided to look a little more locally this summer. Through all this, I'd been auditioning constantly on my own, only getting an audition here and there- not even one a month- from my small agency. I researched agencies in the area and at the first one I went to, I was offered representation. I wanted to ask if I could take some time to think it over, but heard myself accepting. I wish I hadn't; just two days before, my friend from the Equity show I did had been telling me about wonderful the agent she'd just signed with was, and advised me to check them out. I wanted to, but now it appeared I already had a Philadelphia agent. This agent was certain she'd have a plethora of auditions for me, but since June, I've only gotten two.
My question is, would it be smart for me to look for another agency when I return from England in June, or is that considered irresponsible agent-hopping? I know that just because my friend's agent is great for her does not mean they'll be a good fit for me, but I'd like to check them out. And should I resend my material to that NY agent? I'm especially concerned about this since I will be graduating in 2012, and though I'm great at getting myself auditions, I wouldn't say no to some help! ...Wow, that got long. Sorry :p

Whew Rachel! Let's see if I can condense this:

You've never really had representation that got you out consistently, and since signing with one in Philadelphia last June, you've only had two auditions. You're wondering 1) if it would be wise to look for another agency when you return from England this upcoming June, 2011 (uh, where are you now?).  2) should you resubmit your materials to the NY agent who wasn't interested in you the last time, and 3) you're concerned because you're graduating in 2012 and....uh....want an agent while still in school?

Would you email me to make sure I'm understanding your question? I checked both your blogs and can't find a way to contact you.


Next, we have a question from Mary:
How do you recover when you blow an audition? I finally got into a certain casting office for a co-star and messed up my audition. Thought I was off book but I blanked on my lines, flubbed a few more- basically I stunk up the room and was ushered out of there so fast. I have been having trouble getting over it because I have never messed up like that in 6 years of acting and I just feel like that CD will never give me another shot and they are one of the biggest casting offices in town. Have you any tips/advice on how to stop beating yourself up and move on?
Totally. Go to Ross and buy yourself a pretty dress for $13.

Every once in a while we have a bad day, an awful audition, and want to drown our sorrows in pumpkin spice frozen yogurt with cheesecake bits, graham cracker crumbs and hot caramel.  Casting directors have bad days too. They get it.

The worst thing that we imagine is that we'll never ever ever ever get another chance to get into the office ever again, but I've got great news: in another year, when you get a new haircut and headshots, they won't remember that audition. They'll bring you in for something else and your acting life goes on.

Don't beat yourself up. When I bomb something, I say Thank you! leave the office, go down the elevator, get outside, get to my car, sit in it, and finally say, "Well, that blew chunks." Then I blast the radio and sing along super loudly! That negative energy is sung away in stop and go traffic!

You do, however, NEED to remember this audition in every single horrifying detail so that when you're on Letterman, you have an anecdote that seems humbling and charming. You lost the role, but won a great story! And now your fans love you even more!

The Struggling Actress


  1. How nice of you to share your thoughts and help others in the industry! This is what the acting community should be all about! :)


  2. Lira,

    I might be able to help out your first correspondent, since I both have a Philly agent (having worked 3 years in the Mid-Atlantic corridor) and am also studying abroad in England.

    I'd recommend she check her contract with her Philly agent first, since unlike in L.A., most agents in the Philly/D.C./NoVA region don't require exclusivity. I have a Philly agent, Baltimore agent, and Baltimore manager (though since my Philly agency is the first one I signed with, they require identification as my primary agency). She might be able to work with both her friend's agent and her current agent. Additionally, even if her friend's agent is exclusive, if they're mutually excited about working with each other, she may be able to cancel her contract with her current agent early if they haven't gotten her enough work (details should be in the contract). My Philly agency is one of the largest in town, and because they're so large, they don't spend much time on each individual actor. They got me 2 auditions in more than a year.

    I would also recommend she contact that NY agent when she returns from school. However, I wouldn't recommend her moving ahead on the agency question until she returns, lest she frustrate the agent by being eager to sign, and then not being available for months.

    She's also welcome to contact me at ccematson AT gmail DOT com in case she wants more info about my experience in the Philly market, studying abroad in England while having agents back home, or my time at NYU Tisch Drama.

    Love your blog.

    -Cole Matson

  3. Thank you Cole! I'm sure you can expect an email from her very soon!

  4. " You lost the role, but won a great story! " nice angle, I like that!


Play nice.