Inside the Industry: How to get an Agent with Michael Imbimbo – Talent Agent and founder of 9MUSE Talent Agency

talentHow to Get and Agent?  This elusive question comes up a lot when I give seminars. When I was a performer, I always viewed agents with this mysterious they-will-solve-all-my-problems view and thought it would be near impossible to track one down. The real question you should be asking yourself is whether or not you’re ready for an agent.

There is a lot that you can do before you need an agent -the daunting and endless open calls, performing at small local theaters such as the Gallery Players or the Secret Theater right here in NYC, networking with industry professionals, etc. The more you get yourself out there and refine your talent, the more opportunity will come knocking on your door. And it’s important to be ready when you hear a knock.

A great story that I love telling people is how I met a client in a reading at Gallery Players. He was phenomenal and I knew he could be on Broadway. We met, decided to work together, and 4 weeks later he was accepting his first Broadway contract. The most important thing to know is that he had already laid down the groundwork to make this happen. Sure, an agent can help and we excel at connecting the dots, but if you don’t already have the seeds planted, nothing is going to grow.

So how can you start planting the seeds to your career?

While there might not be one straight path, there’s certainly many routes to go. You could, for example, start working with a composer and offer to record some demos of their work, take a dance class, find the names of current Broadway directors (or their assistants!) and a small regional production that they might be directing, sing at and record a cabaret performance, etc.

You might not be headlining on Broadway today; however, imagine if you work with a director in Boise and then again in Detroit, you do solid work and are reliable night after night and build a rapport with that director. Now imagine that said director lands a Broadway show. Guess what? You will most likely get that coveted Broadway audition and get to show your stuff in front of the industries finest! If you do a good job, suddenly the casting director who never called you in before is calling you in for project after project.

These scenarios rapidly propagate and soon you might even need a manager to handle all the requests…but that’s a topic for another post.

Good luck out there!

michaelimbimboPreviously at IMG Artists, Michael Imbimbio runs one of NYC’s newest and most sought-after boutique talent agencies.

9MUSE clients have appeared on and off Broadway in Doctor Zhivago, Book of Mormon, Avenue Q, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Heathers the Musical, Bedbugs!!!, Clinton the Musical, and The 39 Steps; in national tours of I Love Lucy Live, Annie, and Anything Goes; and in regional houses across the country including the world premiere of Bright Star at The Old Globe. His clients have also appeared in various TV and Film projects including Hostages, Difficult People, The Black Box, The Following, Lifetime and pilots for Comedy Central, ABC and CBS. 9MUSE recently celebrated the launch of its literary division. www.9muse.org

One Big Surprise About TV Call-Backs and “Reading for Producers” by Brian O’Neil

Actor-Stock-Image.jpg.300x200_q100Here’s something  few actors– and their representatives–know about episodic television.

I was talking recently to a writer/producer friend of mine who has held that position for years on a major hit New York television show.  Here is what he said:  “Let’s say there is an audition for our casting director for an episode guest star and twenty actors read for the casting director. If five are called back to read for me and the third one nails it, the role is gone.  It’s cast.  Actors number four and five don’t have a chance, no matter how much they “nail it.”  We almost never go backwards in this area. Why?  Partly because the show runner and I have often left the room.  I have an episode to finish writing and/or the show-runner has to check a location. We’re shooting a weekly show and everything has to be done yesterday.  There’s no need to sit there and watch what everyone else can do when someone gave us what we need. To draw a sports analogy, it’s the same reason why a baseball team who’s winning doesn’t play the bottom of the ninth.  The game is won.”

Now, before actors say “That’s not fair…etc. etc”  Let me point out a few things. Whoever got it “before you” is going through the same thing elsewhere.  You go in, you do your best, and then it’s out of your hands. Everyone goes through it; it’s the way the system works. And it IS highly beneficial for the actor who got a “call back” because they get to read again for the casting director.  And will probably be called back in for something else.  It’s all good. Really good. Trust it.

Another reason I am writing this is because I think actors should be discerning when asking their agents for “feedback” on a call-back. Why?  Because I’ve never encountered a situation where a casting director said “He was great, but by the time he entered the room the decision was made.”  Has it been said?  Maybe, but not to me or any of the agents or managers I polled.  So you’ll get some other “reason” that may not be of much help. Just keep getting called back and “nailing” it and one of these jobs WILL have your name on it!!  And as long as you’re getting called back, most representatives will keep sending you out.  Most. Why? Because you are making both you AND them looking good by auditioning well (hence, the call-back)   So, know that you very well may have “nailed it”, but so did someone else.  Don’t beat yourself up over it or second guess it.

Just hang in there!

Brian O’Neil  is the best-selling author of Acting As a Business:  Strategies for Success:  Fifth Edition.  A former agent and personal manager he is currently faculty at The Juilliard School and NYU/Tisch School of the Arts.  He is a career coach/consultant and you can learn more about Brian at http://www.actingasabusiness.com

Eight Tips for Powerful Professional Relationships By Dallas Travers

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We’ve all heard the old line in this business, “It’s all about who you know.” I believe that it’s less about who you know and more about how well you know them. One key to success is powerful relationships. So, here are eight simple tips to help you strengthen your professional relationships.

1. ADD VALUE

Be willing to help others. Listen well. Go see your friends’ shows. Show up on time and stay through the end. Send thank you cards. Remember birthdays. Offer help and support. Tell others about a great book you’re reading or a fantastic restaurant you enjoyed. Participate because you want to, not because you have to. Share your ideas, resources and time. The Tao of Show Business involves a natural flow, so if you are unwilling to give things away, you actually block the natural flow of things. How can you expect people to help you when you don’t first help others? Don’t be the person who only contacts others when you need a favor. Stay in consistent communication so asking for help is no big deal, and receiving it is easy. Add value and increase the value of your day-to-day life.

2. BE AUTHENTIC

Stop worrying about what casting directors or agents are looking for. They’re looking for you, so just be yourself. Be authentically you, so that you will easily find your people. Be you and make everyone’s job a little easier. My client, Justine, got fired from her fourth agent in about four years. Not because she couldn’t act or even because her résumé was weak. Justine left the wrong impression with her agents every time she met with a new one. You see, Justine is really quirky and kinda clumsy. She’s adorably neurotic and very marketable. Yet Justine figured the best way to take an agent meeting was to arrive all buttoned up and proper. That’s what she did and agents got the message, so these same people continued to send her out on auditions for uptight professional types; the opposite of who Justine really is. It’s no wonder she couldn’t keep an agent. Justine wasn’t her authentic self and therefore wasn’t making the right match. As soon as she allowed herself to be her true self, she found the right agent who found the right auditions and Justine started booking like crazy. Be authentically you. Nobody else does you like you do!

3. EMBRACE THE POWER OF TEAMWORK

Share your passion and talent with the people in your life and encourage them to do the same. John Paul Getty once said that he would rather have 1% of the effort of 100 men than 100% of his own effort. You do not have to take this journey on your own. You can enlist the support, feedback and resources of others to make things happen more efficiently and effectively. Force yourself to ask for help and be the first to offer it. Be willing to ask questions and open to receiving honest, constructive feedback. Connect people together. What better way to strengthen your team than to connect your people together! Think about the people you know and identify who they should know and why. Make introductions to support the Collaborators in your life and tie your separate circles together while you’re at it.

4. EXPECT NOTHING

As cool as it would be to control everyone around you, that’s just not the way it works. You can only control your own actions, so let go of any expectations you may have about who should do what and how things should all go. Don’t keep score. Be responsible for your own needs and wants. Focus on you and do the things that inspire you or make you feel good. Take action because you want to, not because you have to. Release your need to be in charge and be open to any possibility. Surprise yourself.

5. LISTEN MORE AND TALK LESS

The best conversationalists are those people who listen more than they speak. Pay attention to what’s going on. Observe others and learn from their successes as well as their mistakes. Make others feel appreciated because you listen to what they have to say. Even if you’ve heard it all before, always bring new ears and eyes to every situation in order to learn. That’s how you get better.

6. FOLLOW UP AND FOLLOW THROUGH

Stay in touch. Don’t leave things unfinished and be mindful enough not to over-commit. Do what you say you will and communicate openly. Be honest. Don’t be flakey. Show up when you say you will. Answer your phone and return phone calls quickly. Actively participate in your career and keep your word.

7. TURN YOUR COMPLAINTS INTO REQUESTS

Stop moaning and make change. If your scene partner isn’t pulling her weight, don’t complain about it. Look for creative solutions and constructive ways to create new results, encourage new behaviors, or completely change your relationship. Crying won’t get you anywhere, so be a part of the solution rather than the problem. If you cannot turn your complaint into a request, you have nothing to complain about.

8. BE COOL

The only power to be had exists in the present moment. Don’t worry about what happened last week, about what you forgot to do, or where you dropped the ball. Stop worrying about the future, wondering about whether or not you’ll get that callback or if your agent is really working hard on your behalf. You cannot change the past and you can’t predict the future, so just be cool and stay present.

Respected as one of the entertainment industry’s leading experts, Dallas Travers teaches actors the career and life skills often left out of traditional training programs. Her groundbreaking book, The Tao of Show Business, has won over five awards including first prizes at The Hollywood Book Festival and the London Festival along with the National Indie Excellence Award. She has helped thousands of actors to increase their auditions, produce their own projects, secure representation and book roles in film and television.

If you’re ready to jump-start your acting career, get your FREE Thriving Artist Starter Kit now at www.dallastravers.com.