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In a previous blog, I addressed the Top 5 agency Blunders that can get an agency-talent agreement terminated faster than a same-day rush casting call for Chicago Fire.

Yes…please read that blog (if you haven’t already) to avoid making some of the worst mistakes in the industry!

I’ve put together a list of the most common mistakes I see agency talent make when they first sign to the agency. While these rules may not be quite as harsh as the others, they will certainly hinder your potential and should be avoided at all costs:

1. Thinking you have more time to apply to castings

Follow up with your agent quickly. And I mean QUICKLY. DO NOT assume there will be more time simply because a specific deadline date was not mentioned in the casting notice. Many times, an exact deadline isn’t established. Why? Because the moment the casting or booking agent find the right person for the job, the job is booked.

2. Being unwilling to travel…even a little.

Traveling: Good. Stepping outside your comfort zone: Better.

Especially if you live in a Midwestern or predominately rural demographic, it is important to be able to travel outside of your hometown. Where are the jobs? Mostly in the larger cities. Milwaukee and Chicago are our primary booking cities. A close second place would be Madison, followed by Green Bay and Appleton, WI. If you aren’t willing to travel into the city for opportunities, we will question how much this interest really means to you.

3. Not communicating professionally

Have a question for your agent? Email him/her. Unless you know your agent outside of the agency, it is impolite to start funneling legal questions, booking inquiries, or invoice follow ups via DM on Instagram or Facebook…not to mention, speaking to people across many different platforms gets insanely confusing when it comes to following up with people.

“Hmm…did I talk to them on Instagram, Facebook messenger, snapchat…”

Anything–and I mean anything–business or agency related needs to be addressed by your agent’s preferred method of contact. For me, that is EMAIL. Which also means…

FOLLOW UP QUICKLY!!!!!!

Even if you are not able to do a job/event/show, it is important that you take a second of your time to email your agent to say, “Thank you for the opportunity but I am unavailable for the event.” Otherwise, I’m holding out hope that you will respond saying that you can do it.

…I’d rather you squash my hopes right away.

Following up quickly shows that you care. It shows respect and really goes a long way.

I appreciate you followuppers!!! <3

4. Not turning in vouchers, or leaving fields blank.

If you are booked for a paid job (not volunteer work) your agent will email you a talent voucher beforehand. Talent vouchers serve as extra proof of your hours/day working at a job. Types of jobs that require vouchers are: Fashion shows or hair shows, promotional events, extra work on film or commercial, and paid photo shoots. Once you are finished working the job for the day, make sure you have your voucher signed off by the client. Then, snap a photo of your voucher on your phone and email it back to your agent ASAP.

Forget to have your voucher signed? Let your agent know ASAP so they can confirm and verify your hours and rate with the client before too much time passes.

5. Not being EARLY

Make an entrance in agency-standard runway attire.

In this industry, on time is LATE. You must always be 15-20 minutes early for every booking.

When you are an agency talent, you will be traveling to all kinds of venues that you have never been to before. Always leave earlier than you think you need to in order to allow time for navigating, parking, and unexpected traffic. If you are running more than 10 minutes late to a booking for ANY reason, call your on site contact (that was given to you by your agent.) THEN…let your agent know you are running behind ASAP.

We would much rather here from YOU that you were running late, as opposed to finding out later by the client.

6. Not being prepared ENOUGH for auditions.

DETAILS. DETAILS. DETAILS…

If this is a runway audition, make sure you are dressed in COMPLETE Standard Runway Attire with the best RUNWAY SHOES. Your make up is minimal/natural. You have your Comp Card with you, and you know all of your measurements. But most importantly, be sure that:

You have researched this particular show/event, you understand the product or brand, and understand how the client wants the product to be showcased. You will need to deliver a solid runway walk that correlates to the style and brand that will be featured. And yes, you must do this with unquestionable confidence.

7. Being TOO EAGER or not being patient enough

Do not pester your agent for work. When we are notified of a position or opportunity, you will be notified. Understand that bookings tend to slow down before the holidays, and typically won’t pick up until a few weeks after New Year’s.

Also, please don’t go and sign up for every casting service imaginable just because you are desperate for work…many of these NON AGENCIES provide casting services in exchange for your personal contact information…which is then sold to third parties. Don’t be surprised if you start receiving all kinds of emails from other companies offering promises that are too good to be true.

Speaking of too good to be true, it’s just about that time of year again:

**Cue bumping club music**

“Does your child want to be a Disney Channel or Nickelodeon TV Star? WELLLL…NOW IS YOUR ONCE IN A LIFE TIME CHANCE! AUDITIONS WILL BE TAKING PLACE AT (INSERT HOTEL LOCATED IN A SUBURB OF MILWAUKEE HERE)…”

Okay, let me be the one to say it:

Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel do not need to host talent scoutings in the surrounding suburban cities of Milwaukee Wisconsin to scout talent…

THEY. JUST. DON’T!!!!!

Please steer clear of all of these radio and TV advertisements this time of year. THEY ARE NOT AGENCIES!!

BUT…

They DO know that you probably just got your taxes back and are therefore more likely to drop larger amounts of money on a perceived pursuit of your child’s hopes and dreams…

Instead of embarking on fictitious “New-Year-New-Me pursuits”, let’s pause for a second to reflect on what actually WILL boost your marketability and opportunities to be cast in local work. It starts with having MARKETABLE photos:

8. Not having marketable photos

Always have RECENT professional photos that have been approved by your agent uploaded to your digital modeling portfolio. Your agent needs natural looking photos of you that are applicable to your age bracket and market in order to effectively market you.

Do not dress inappropriately for a photo shoot and then expect your agent to use those photos to market you because: We won’t.

Your photos must adhere to the Agency Standard in order for your agent to utilize them for marketing purposes. Be sure to read, “How to Dress for a Comp Card Photo Shoot” so that you are completely clear on the expectations of outfits and styles to obtain marketable photos from your next photo shoot. Your agent’s job is to market only the strongest photos of all the agency’s talent.

In short, wardrobe should be:

  • Age appropriate
  • Well fitted and NEW looking attire.
  • ABSOLUTELY NO LARGE PRINTS/PATTERNS OR BRAND LOGOS
  • Ironed/steamed, with ZERO stains or unintentional holes/tears
  • CLEAN shoes. No scuffs. No dirt. No exceptions.
  • Neatly styled hair. (No “messy bun” or bedhead looks” because they do not photograph well. All flyaways need to be tamed with hair spray and bobby pins. This silkening oil changed my photo shoot life. <3
  • The most marketable photos will depend on your location and local market.
  • For more details on how to obtain your basic agency photos, read this blog.

This really shouldn’t be a problem, as you have entered this field because you are probably passionate about it for the right reasons: You like having your photos taken, so you prioritize photo shoots and shoot regularly and frequently with a variety of photographers.

9. Not knowing how to take digitals

Front View Digital: Model & Singer, Nick Montag

Digitals (aka snapshots) are “non professional grade” photos that can be taken from your cell phone, and they are just as important as your professional photos.

Digitals serve a variety of purposes in the modeling and talent industry. When a prospective agency or casting director wants to see what you look like naturally–without the professional make up artists, high powered lighting, and photo edits, they will ask for digitals. But just to be clear:

DIGITALS ARE NOT SELFIES.

To learn how to take digitals, read this.

10. Not knowing how to download your resume as a PDF and attach it to an email.

This is such a vital skill for so many different last minute opportunities!! Not to mention, if you plan on applying to an agency (or any job for that matter) it is a basic necessity to be able to send your resume and head shot as attachments in an email.

I’m no videographer, but I did make a two minute tutorial on how to do this. Check it out on IGTV here.

Okay, I have one more. Consider this a bonus one:

Putting all of your hope into ONE audition

Learn to go about living your life after an audition!!

So much easier said than done, this is a skill that requires time and experience to master. The best thing you can do is to submit for as many castings as possible, and be pleasantly surprised if you receive a callback. This industry is filled with rejection, and you must learn resiliency if you are determined to persevere.

Learn to get in the habit of auditioning for things, and then forgetting about them and moving on with your life. You should have other hobbies and interests that keep you balanced while you are in between gigs.

Find this article helpful? Have any other questions? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Want to know a secret? It actually isn’t just all about your look or acting capability. When you are signed to an agency, you take on a new role of responsibility. Being signed to an agency is an honor, as your agent has decided that you possess qualities that–with consistency and determination–will yield to success in your local market.

Agency talent are held to a higher standard of professionalism, reliability, work quality, and communication. Whether you are modeling brands on the runway or advertising a product in a commercial, it is important to know that not only are you representing yourself, you are representing your agency as well. Agency work is a complete team effort: be good to your agency, and your agency will be good to you.

1. Quick follow up

In a fast paced industry like this one, prompt communication is essential. Often times, there is not a lot of lead time on auditions, so you need to be checking your email periodically. If you are selected for a call back, we will need to confirm your audition or self tape audition ASAP. You should also know your schedule a few weeks out so that when we touch base, we can confirm dates for auditions or bookings.

2. Professionalism. Professionalism. Professionalism.

Cheetah print bodysuit: A wardrobe staple this year! You need one in your life–Click photo!

There is a reason clients come to an agency to hire talent for specific jobs instead of taking a chance by hiring people off of Craigslist. Clients will happily pay for the added “polish” that an agency talent is guaranteed to provide. That said, the way you carry yourself, how you dress, how you write your emails and how you speak are all important factors that separate agency talent from the rest. Make sure that you emulate professionalism in all tenses. Check on this blog to understand the specifics and expectations of Agency standard professionalism.

3. Being flexible & willing to adapt to change

Totally in love with this blazer. Click photo for details<3

Sometimes the runway choreography changes. Sometimes your outfit changes. Sometimes the venue changes. Please keep in mind that the directors do everything they can to minimize changes, but sometimes they are necessary. Have a willful and collaborative spirit in light of unforeseen circumstances. DO NOT COMPLAIN or carry a negative or resentful energy. People will notice, and the odds of you being hired by that client again are extremely slim. This is a very competitive industry, and everyone is replaceable. Stay humble, work hard, and be pleasant to work with.

4. Have Integrity

Your agent works for YOU. Never trash talk your agency. If you are displeased with your agency, there is probably a misunderstanding of expectations, and you should contact your agent to discuss any questions you may have. If you are still displeased, simply ask if you can terminate your contract early, or wait for your contract to expire and simply choose to not work with them again. It makes you look unprofessional when you start trashing your agent. Other agencies will not want to take you on if you have been known to trash previous agencies.

Another case when integrity is important is when a situation arises when you notice that you are being “poached” by another agent or client:

If a client is trying to “pay you directly” by trying to avoid paying agency fees by not having your agent involved, that should be a red flag to you as a talent. If your agent isn’t involved, who is holding this person responsible for your payment? And, how will you know if what they intend to pay you is even fair compensation? Not to mention, if something goes wrong…you’re totally on your own.

As if that wasn’t enough, if your agent finds out you are working with one of the agency’s clients without their intervention, your agent can terminate your contract. (Yeah, we’ll fire that client too) But think to yourself…is it worth losing all of the opportunities provided by your agency by trying to go around them for just one job? All to avoid paying a 15%-20% Agency commission?

If you think you are being poached by a client, politely tell the client that you work closely with your agency and you honor your Agency Agreement.

And then tell us…we’ll need to know!!

5. Understanding the talent-agency relationship

Gold chain belt. A subtle way to tie the look together. Click photo for details!

By now you probably know that your agency (or the agency you will have someday) has your back. Agencies don’t make money unless you work, so we want to get you booked for as many things as possible!

It is also important to have realistic expectations going into an agency. You should understand Where You Fit into the Model Market, Understand the Importance of Reliability, know how to Dress for a Comp Card Shoot, know what to wear to a runway audition, as well as how to audition for runway. Trust your agent’s feedback on your photos, and let them help you. They know what will book as opposed to what won’t!!

Your agency will provide you with the materials you need to be successful, as well as groom you for optimal marketability. Your agency will do their best to market you and put you in the best light to potential clients and casting directors. You will be notified of castings and opportunities by your agent, and it is your responsibility to follow up promptly when those opportunities arise.

It is your agent’s job to keep you safe and away from low-value opportunities. (I hate the word “scam”–it’s too vague.) If you are offered a collaboration via DM through Instagram to “collab”…send it to your agent. We’ll tell you right away whether or not the opportunity is worth pursuing.

Your agent networks, supports your endeavors, and always has your best interest in mind. I strive to be my talent’s personal cheerleader, mentor, and booker.

You should have a solid, team-driven working relationship with your agent. Do your part to help us help you, and you will find the most success in all your endeavors!