A quick look inside the life of a writer. Let me know in the comments below what I left off and what you do as a writer!
Hey everyone! It’s that time of the year when I like to stop for a moment, recap and catch everyone up on the exciting blog entries I’ve posted over the last 4 months. Ranging from When To Get An Agent to When To Leave Your Agent to What Is A Win to me dropping off my feature film script to James Franco’s production company, let’s take a stroll down memory lane from oldest blog entry to the newest:
Happy Birthday! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-iN
Taking It To The Next Level: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-jx
A Big Win With James Franco: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-jR
What Is A Win? https://wp.me/p8uI5M-mS
The Revolution Begins: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-os
When To Get An Agent Or Manager: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-6T
Happy 15th Anniversary! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-qq
Happy Labor Day Weekend! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-rq
Self-Tape Audition Adventures: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-rA
The Showrunner In Me: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-sx
Do You Celebrate? https://wp.me/p8uI5M-uj
A New Journey Begins: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-wo
The Power Of The Human Spirit: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-x6
Quick Tip: Callbacks https://wp.me/p8uI5M-xn
Pre-Production Begins! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-xx
When To Leave Your Agent: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-y5
“When should I leave my agent?” This is a question I receive often from actors. I’ll do my best to offer my perspective because it’s a great question.
First, actors need to understand and realize that they are entering into a business partnership with their agents. And like any business partnership, there has to be a constant exchange that occurs between the two parties. In the partnership between an actor and agent, the actor is the one who needs to put in more work. Some actors expect the agent to do ALL the work for them. And these same actors sit back and complain that their agent is not getting them out enough or not getting them out at all for auditions.
Remember, when you book an acting job, you typically receive 90% of the pay and your agent receives the remaining 10%. So just these percentages alone should clearly indicate that you are the one who is driving your career bus. You are the driver. You are the one that is in charge of developing the relationship with your agent. You are the one that is in charge of sharing your dreams, your business plan, your goals, your hustle, your materials, etc. to your agent. It is your responsibility to keep the exchange in this business partnership alive and exciting.
Some actors do not do that. They don’t navigate their own journey and expect the agent to do all of the work for them. And in this day of technology, social media, insta-fame and insta-celebrity, people want things YESTERDAY. I want to be a star YESTERDAY. I should be working YESTERDAY. And so when an actor signs with an agent, some want to jump ship if their agent doesn’t produce results in a month! I’ve known actors who have jumped ship after being with a new agent for a few months. I’m like: What the fuck?!
It’s like those actors who jump from acting class to acting class and expect to receive a fully-realized education and experience in a few months. “I’ll take scene study for three months here and then I’ll jump into this on-camera acting class for four weeks.” I’ve had actors ask me what they can get out of a scene study class in two months. What the fuck?! It doesn’t work like that. When you enroll in an acting class, you need to commit time to it. You have to let the teaching work. It takes time, commitment and application to really get a handle and understanding of a particular acting approach. Your career is a marathon race. Your career is a life race.
Look at it from this perspective: Are you going to enroll in a gym and expect the long-term results you’re seeking to achieve in one month? Are you going to declare a college major and expect to master that discipline in a few months?
So, why do some actors jump ship so quickly when their new agent hasn’t secured an audition for them in a month? Give this relationship time. The agent is learning about you. They are learning about where you fit and belong. They are learning about your strengths. At the same time, you have to be present in this exchange and make them excited to have you on board.
So, going back to the original question (“When should I leave my agent?”), my personal advice is:
*Leave when you have been with your agent for a year and have exhausted every single avenue to get yourself out there. Meaning, in the year that you’ve been with your agent, did you do everything to update your headshots and reel; to be in an acting class; to utilize social media as a way to build relationships with industry people; to create evidence for yourself that you can share with your agent and the world; to give your agent a list of shows you can be on right now; to pitch you for projects in production or in development; did you ask them what they need from you; etc.
When you have done everything in your power to build this relationship in a year, then you can leave. You’ve exhausted every avenue.
And look, I know that some agents are better than others in terms of their ability/clout to get their clients into the door. I totally know that. Some agents have better/great relationships with casting directors and other industry people. So I know that all agents are not created equally. But don’t jump around from agent to agent when you haven’t done your part to build the relationship first and foremost.
Also, leave if your agent is hostile or unsupportive. If the atmosphere is hostile and unsupportive, leave. But you should have already sensed that from the first meeting with them. You’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. You know in your gut if something is not a right fit. I remember meeting an agent–who on paper–seemed like a great fit. But as soon as I stepped into their office and met them, I could feel this was a hostile environment. When we talked, they had a hostile point of view about how an agent-actor relationship should work. They believed that an actor shouldn’t tell an agent what to do, they shouldn’t ask an agent to pitch them for things, etc. Basically, the agent runs the show and the actor is the passenger with no voice.
I clearly was not down for that. I’m looking for collaboration. I discovered during this meeting that the agent was a former actor and I understood why they were hostile: They had a failed purpose with acting and they were taking it out on other actors. No thank you. I was out the door for that agency.
Sometimes, when an actor has momentum and trajectory, they leave their agency for another one that can open bigger doors for them. If you are booking a certain level of work with one agency and find that you’re stuck on that level for a while–and that agent can’t get you bigger auditions–then you can set your sights on a higher-level agency that can get you bigger auditions and opportunities. So, as your career progresses and gets bigger and bigger, you can move up to an agency that can handle that higher level and caliber of your career status. So if you’re stuck in co-star land and want to graduate to guest star, recurring guest star and series regular status, then look at a higher-level agency that can get you those auditions. Just make sure that you leave your current agent cleanly, with a sense of integrity and ethics. Express gratitude to them for getting you to this level and now you’re ready to go with another agent who can get you to a higher level.
So my advice is to leave after you’ve done everything you could to build that relationship in a year’s time. Or leave if the environment is hostile and unsupportive. Or leave when your career evolves into a higher status and you need a higher-level agency that can support that status.
See you next week! Maybe next week’s entry will be another video blog!
Shout out to my younger brother Bobby who encouraged me to do a video blog this time around! He reads my blog every week and is a big supporter of my career! I’ve only done one other video blog before (In 2016, right before I shot a film and I was sharing my character’s wardrobe with everyone)
Click on the link below to get a quick tip of the day regarding callbacks! (Shout out to the motorcycle gang at the end of the video!)
Happy Sunday! Not too long ago, I posted a blog entry about what a win is and what defines one. For example, is it only a win when you book a job in the entertainment industry? I wanted to shed some light and a new perspective on what a win is. Here is the link to that particular blog entry: http://wp.me/p8uI5M-mS
Well, now that you have a greater understanding of what a win is, and you’ve had some wins in your life and in your career, what did you do to celebrate them? Did you take the time to celebrate that win or did you forget about it and move on to the next thing on your “to do” list? You know, that list of things you keep crossing off and you keep crossing off and don’t ever acknowledge the progress you’re making because you’re only focused on the end goal? “I just want to keep crossing things off my list and then I’ll celebrate! I can’t stop moving now!”
Celebration is important. The definition of celebration is: To observe (a day or event) with ceremonies of respect, festivity, or rejoicing.
How cool is that?! To observe a win you’ve had with respect, festivity or rejoicing. Sing praise! Rejoice! Hallelujah! Give back to yourself for the work you did to achieve that win. Celebrate! Woo hoo! Sing out loud from the rooftops how kick ass you are! But wait. How many of us actually celebrate? How many of us actually carve out time to celebrate that win we just accomplished? Remember, now that you have a clearer understanding of what a win is, celebration should be a frequent part of your journey.
Celebration should be immediate. It should be done quickly in order for you to cement the win. To cement the accomplishment. Don’t let time pass because then you will forget the win you had. When you celebrate, you are planting your marker on the ground as an acknowledgement of what you’ve achieved. You are staking your claim with celebration. You are claiming for yourself. When you celebrate, really give it to yourself. Remind yourself why you are having this celebration in the first place to really cement it in even more. For example, when I get celebrate with a massage, I think to myself during it, “I’m getting this massage for that kick-ass callback I had. I’m getting this massage for that kick-ass callback I had.”
Celebration is a form of respect for you and the work you’ve put in to achieve something. Something you’ve moved forward. A discovery you made in the journey of your life and career. Life and this career is already challenging as it is, so celebration keeps us on the path. It reminds us that we are winning and advancing forward. If you don’t celebrate along the way, you lose perspective. If you don’t celebrate the little things along the way, you’re not going to celebrate the bigger things either. Crazy, right? You’re thinking you’re only going to celebrate when you win that Oscar. Or that Emmy. Or when you get your first series regular role. Or when you sell your first script. “I’ll finally celebrate when I get that big thing!”
The irony is that if you wait to celebrate until you achieve that big thing, you won’t enjoy nor celebrate even then! You’ll finally get that series regular role but you won’t celebrate because you’ll think to yourself, “But yeah, it’s a series regular role on a smaller network. I wanted a series regular role on HBO!” Or “I won an Oscar, but it’s only for supporting actor!” “I booked my first role, but it’s only five lines!” Your expectations are higher than your gratitude. Celebration keeps you in gratitude and it helps you to see the through line of your journey. Celebration keeps you present versus you only focusing on the goal ahead and not taking stock of your progress.
Celebrate and honor the audition you had just as you would celebrate the series regular booking. Celebrate it all because it’s all part of the journey. They are all connected. The audition led you to the callback and the callback led you to the network callback and that led you to your booking, etc.
You can’t and won’t enjoy the bigger things if you don’t acknowledge and celebrate the little things as well along the way.
And celebrations don’t have to be expensive. They don’t have to cost you a ton of money. Actually, you will discover different categories of celebration. One celebration will be appropriate for one type of win while another celebration will be appropriate for another type of win. For example, when I have an audition, I’m not going to celebrate afterwards by taking a trip to a beautiful, tropical island. I’ll most likely save that for when I sell my first feature film script.
So, as you move forward, start looking at ways you can celebrate and how you can organize them into different categories like small, medium and large celebrations. In my DOIN’ (Declaration of Independence) aka my business plan, I have my celebrations categorized into small, medium and large celebrations. I even took it a step further and defined for myself what wins would constitute a small, medium or large celebration. This helps me so that I can apply the right level of celebration to the win I just had.
Check them out below and I hope to hear from you about your own list of celebrations!
**Below is just a few examples of what kind of wins would constitute a small, medium or large celebration for myself:
Small celebration: Audition; callback; put up a scene in class; film festival acceptance; film festival screening; finish writing a scene in a film script or episodic script; submit script to a writing competition; etc.
Medium celebration: Booking paid acting work on TV (co-star; guest star) and feature films (supporting; principal); finish producing a short film; etc.
Large celebration: TV series order; feature film script sold for development and production; series regular booking; earn a significant pay increase; winning one of the following awards: Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy, SAG, etc.
Small celebrations (sampling)
Get a full-body massage
Buy a nice bottle of champagne
Go to a drag show with friends
Go to a movie
Buy a new chocolate I haven’t tried before from Trader Joe’s
Medium celebrations (sampling)
Veuve Clicquot or Krug Rose with friends
Buy clothing from Rik Villa or Brandon Kee
Have dinner at a nice restaurant with friends
Purchase painting from a new artist
Large celebrations (sampling)
Buy a luxury car
Buy a home
Take a vacation in Hawaii, Cape Cod, the Dominican Republic, France, Spain or Australia
Purchase painting from Kehinde Wiley, Keith Haring, Roy Nachum or Jean-Michel Basquiat
The only reason why I want to be a showrunner is because I love telling people what to do.
LBH (Let’s Be Honest)
According to Google, a showrunner, in the most basic terms, “is the person who has overall creative authority and management responsibility for a television program.”
I want to lead and run my own TV shows.
ICYMI, In Case You Missed It, no one is going to create my career for me but me.
Showrunner: Ryan Murphy, Gloria C. Kellet, Mike Royce, Tanya Saracho, etc.
However, I want to be in front of the camera as well. I want to see my face up on that screen in addition to developing and writing the stories I’m interested in telling. I want to see my face on billboards and magazine covers. I didn’t have anyone that looked like me or sounded like me when I was growing up. THIS IS VITAL TO ME that I represent up there as well. I BELONG.
OTOH, On The Other Hand, when I was growing up, I wanted to be Madonna. As an adult, I still do. Hell, when I come back in the next lifetime, I want to be Madonna.
BTT, Back To Topic!!
DGMW, Don’t Get Me Wrong, I want to be me too. I love being me. And it feels so good each time I infiltrate mainstream public consciousness with my work, my voice, my sensibilities, my art.
So maybe it’s more like Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Issa Rae, etc. They are behind the camera as showrunners and in front of the camera as the stars.
But damn, I love movies too. AAMOF, As A Matter Of Fact, movies are my first love. I originally came to Los Angeles to be in movies. I love movies and I love being in them.
Hmmmmm, so maybe it’s more like Tyler Perry, Tina Fey, Dan Bucatinsky, etc. They are actors, writers and producers on both the film and television fronts.
Yeah! Actor, writer and producer for film and television.
I want it all!
I want to be in front of the camera and behind the camera. Film and television. Infiltrate the mainstream. Change perceptions. Fuck with perceptions. Challenge perceptions.
DIY, Do It Yourself, because no one else is going to do it for me. Work hard. Build relationships. Make bold moves.
This will be it.
It will happen. I have the talent. I have the intelligence. I have the work ethic. I make things happen. I make a set better. I uplift people. I administer tough love. I am a mensch. I love this explanation of a mensch from Wikipedia: “According to Leo Rosten, the Yiddish Maven and author of The Joys of Yiddish, a “mensch” is “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being ‘a real mensch’ is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.” The term is used as a high compliment, implying the rarity and value of that individual’s qualities.”
This will be it.
MMW (Mark My Words)
EOD (End Of Discussion)
LBH, I really want to win some Emmys, Golden Globes, Oscars, etc. as that actor, writer and producer just so that I can go to the after parties with my awards in hand and channel Madonna’s dance spirit and outfit below. Riccardo Tisci, Tom Ford, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, John Galliano and Rik Villa will each take turns to dress me.
Photo courtesy of Majic Painting
On August 26th, 2017, I celebrated 15 years of living in Los Angeles!!!!!!!!!!
I celebrated by attending a Moët champagne and Veuve Clicquot champagne taste testing, amongst other cool things!
I am so blessed and grateful for the journey that I have been on as a person and as an artist. I am blessed and grateful because I came here to create my dreams and I am still in the game. I am blessed and grateful because I am still living my dreams and enjoying them whereas I have seen countless others give up on theirs. I can’t tell you how blessed I am that I am still living my dreams. I am blessed and grateful to have turned many no’s into yes’s. I am blessed and grateful that I have changed perceptions and enlightened many people on what I can do by honestly being who I am. I learned who I really am by moving to Los Angeles, living on my own and becoming an adult.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I went to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. I am from the East Coast. However, Los Angeles is my home and I look forward to the next 15 years here.
I want to thank the following people and things that have contributed to my experience here in Los Angeles. This is just a sampling and not a comprehensive list:
My family: both biological and the ones I’ve created here
My friends past and present
My teachers past and present
Relationships past and present
Places of employment
My former co-workers
Past apartments I’ve lived in
My agents past and present
Various crew members who also make the magic happen