There are many myths and misconceptions about the entertainment industry and what it takes to “make it”. This industry is full of wonderful opportunities, but there is also no clear path to how to make these opportunities happen for you.
While there are many legitimate, honest industry professionals from agents, casting directors and performance coaches who genuinely want to help and nurture young talent, there are a few who take advantage of those eager to enter the industry and their uncertainty about how the industry really works. The fact is that there is no set path, nor formula for success in the industry. Because of this, it is easy to market a ‘guaranteed’ way to ensure success or create an impression that any one factor could mean commercial success, whether it be an agency, workshops, work without pay or portfolio shoots.
Too often, as agents, we too often see people and businesses trying to “sell the dream”, making promises that they cannot realistically fulfil. The reality of the industry is that no one can guarantee that there will be work or that they can get that work going your way. There is no one who can create work or can give talent work (via agents) other than the clients themselves (being brands, production companies, advertising agencies etc).
This industry is purely based on the individual, so no matter the track record of talent booked through an agent/coach/director, there is no guarantee that this means the next talent they sign will have the same success. Be wary of those who parade only one or very few examples of past successes. You are only as relevant in the industry as your last jobs suggests, so make sure to verify the actual claims of booked talent. Essentially, look for consistent, regular work for a variety of talent.
With all of that, let’s have a look at some common myths and misconceptions, and the reality of it all
Workshops or coaching is a great way to gain experience and further your skill-sets as a talent, whether it be in modelling, acting, dancing or all of the above.
However, workshops are often marketed as “exposure” to industry professionals with implied success just by attending and mingling with casting directors, producers and others there. The fact is unless an actual client has a current job needing talent just like you, there is nothing they can do to get you a job or further your career. While you will get the exposure promised, this may be true, it must be taken with a grain of salt. The truth is you should treat any workshop or coaching as purely a learning experience!
Same goes for ‘audition days’ promising to give you a foot in the door. ‘Real’ clients who can hire talent, do not need to advertise audition days and ask you to pay to attend. They can look at talent for free by contacting agents who will submit suitable pre-screened talent.
An agent is your best bet in the industry. A lot of clients will only engage talent through a reputable agent, due to the complexities of coordinating castings and bookings. It also allows clients to view a range of talent and have the peace of mind that the agent is there to handle majority of communication and coordination, so being signed to an agent will give you the best exposure to the industry’s clients.
However, you must choose wisely. Look for an agent that is upfront about the reality of the industry, if they guarantee that you will get work through them, or give you a percentage guarantee (eg. there’s an 80% chance you will get work), then tread carefully. NO agent can guarantee work to anyone, as they are not the decision makers.
An agent’s role is to build and maintain relationships with their client’s, so they can give their talent the most and best opportunities possible. They should also provide realistic career advice and assist in the professional management of your castings and jobs.
At the end of the day, you should always give your best and take up all opportunities that come your way, but it is wise to be considerate and careful of where you invest your time (and in some cases, money!). While no one can give you a guarantee of success, there are those who can give you realistic advice and help along your journey.