SPOTLIGHT ON: Avery Sisters Entertainment

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Contributed by Gerra Avery

1.  What makes you unique as an agency?

I think we are unique because we are a family owned business. We all work well together and bring that sense of family to our relationships with our actors. Do not get me wrong, it cannot all be daisies and roses, but we all genuinely care for one another and that is the foundation of our agency.  

2. How long have you been in business?

We have been in business since 2004; 2007 we took on actors. So 14 years.

3. What do you look for in an actor who is seeking representation with you?

We look for what we do not have, actors with credits, and that wow factor.  BUT Ultimately it boils down to well-trained professionals who are ready to hustle!

4. What is your best piece of advice for actors working in the SE?

As mentioned above, the best actors are hustlers. You must constantly be moving to make things happen for yourself. You MUST put in the work! When we see this in an actor, it makes us work harder for them.  

5. Share a success story with us. Keep in mind it can be for you as an agent or specific to a client and their journey.

With so much gratitude, we have had so many! But what comes to mind is one actor in particular, one of his first tapes: he wore a fur and bones around his neck then dimmed the lights for "ambiance." We hung in there with this actor because of our relationship with him and now he is a series regular on a very popular show.  It warms my heart to even mention that story.

Learn more about Avery Sisters Entertainment on their web page here! 

THE AGENT/CLIENT RELATIONSHIP: Pitches

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The subject of agent and client relationships comes up repeatedly in my discussions, particularly with actors. It can be a little touchy, but it’s important to address. When you sign with your agent, you need to discuss procedures. Where you are in your career and your credits will likely inform how your agent approaches submissions, pitches and negotiations for you.

This week, let’s look at pitches.

PITCHES

Pitches are a great tool for both a casting director and an agent. The agent is a valuable source for introducing new actors to casting, especially if it is an actor who has recently moved to the area. Agents also help to highlight any special skills you may have. Be sure your agent knows exactly what those are. You never know when there is a project looking for talent with a professional sports history or extensive improv experience.

Also if an actor has worked with a director or has a professional association with someone working on a project, this can be a great networking opportunity. There are occasions when a breakdown comes out, you are submitted on a project, but casting does not ask for you. If it is a perfect role for you, then your agent may reach out and ask to have you be seen for that role. All of these are great opportunities for an agent to pitch an actor for a specific project.

Sometimes, actors hear about a given feature or episodic, and they want to be pitched for it because they are fired up about the project. This excitement is terrific, but if there is not anything right for you, then there is no reason for an agent to pitch you. Additionally, just because your buddy who is also 6’2” and has been asked to audition does not mean that you were forgotten or left out. You cannot be pitched for every project. Your agent needs to be careful when they do this and how frequently. If you are pitched too often, it can make you and the pitch less effective. Trust that your agent will submit you and pitch you when the time is right for it.

SPOTLIGHT ON: PRIVILEGE TALENT AGENCY

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Jacob Lawson Weighs In

1.) What makes you unique as an agency?

I think the agencies in Atlanta have a lot more in common than we have differences. We are all working to raise the standard of the Atlanta and Southeast market as a whole to be on par with what is going on in the traditional powerhouses of New York and LA. Maybe one thing that makes PT a bit different is the competitive nature that Corey and I bring to the business. We've both been training and competing from a very young age and I think bringing that mentality to running an agency has worked in our favor.

2.) How long have you been in business?

We've been in business just over 5 years.

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3.) What do you look for in an actor who is seeking representation with you?

With our roster being relatively small, we are always looking to add where we feel like we have a deficit on our roster. It is much easier for someone 50+ to gain traction when seeking representation with us than it would be for someone who is, say, in their 20s. Having a unique skill set such as weapons training or speaking multiple languages never hurts either. Being a strong, smart, well trained actor is always the most important thing however so get in class!

4.) What is your best piece of advice for actors working in the SE?

Treat this like a business and not a hobby. Find a way to work on it every day. Get in class, network, create your own content if you have no other outlet.

5.)  Share a success story with us. Keep in mind it can be for you as an agent or specific to a client and their journey.

It always feels good to get someone their first booking, particularly when that person is struggling financially. I will never forget we had a guy who hustles harder than just about anyone else we work with; he never makes excuses, always shows up when being in person is an option. This guy had a callback for SAG commercial in North Carolina and on the way his car broke down. He ended up walking in the rain to get to a bus station to make the rest of the trip. Making the call to let him know he booked was soul-filling, that sort of thing sticks with you.

Learn more about Privilege Talent Agency on their website here! 

THE AGENT/CLIENT RELATIONSHIP: SUBMISSIONS

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The subject of agent and client relationships comes up repeatedly in my discussions, particularly with actors. It can be a little touchy, but it’s important to address. When you sign with your agent, you need to discuss procedures. Where you are in your career and your credits will likely inform how your agent approaches submissions, pitches and negotiations for you.

Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing each of these finer points.

SUBMISSIONS

Technically, the first pitch for any agent on a project is with their submissions. When an agent sees a breakdown and recognizes that you are right for the role, they add you to the submission. It requires just a tap on the keyboard, but there is definitely more that goes into it than just that click. The agent has to do their best to read between the lines of the role description and decide that either you are a good match, or it is worth a gamble to add you to the mix.

Keep in mind that casting directors will have more information about the project and role than the agent. Having been on both sides, from a casting position, if the character description on the breakdown is too lengthy and detailed, it can limit the number of submissions by the agent. But as a casting director, I want to see every possible option. So I approach the role description with great care. The descriptions generally do not give an exact age, mostly there is an age range such as 50’s or late 30’s to early 40’s. Ethnicity is almost always given. Again dependant on the project and casting director, some description of the character is given, maybe relationships (brother, sister, mother to another character), personality traits or brief history. In all, if the agent is given five to six lines, it’s a lot. Often, it is not more than two or three.

The agent has to make a guess based on that very brief description whether you are a good match. If there are five roles on a given breakdown that you are a good “fit” for, then the agent needs to decide if they put you in for them all or just one or two. Sometimes casting requests that the agent not repeat and multi-submit actors, and other times casting does not mind. It is different for each casting director and project.

In other words, for a good agent, there is a LOT that goes into that submission. It is not cut and dry, nor is it simple. If you truly trust your agent, then allow them the space to make these calculations, work their magic and get you those audition opportunities.

SPOTLIGHT ON: J Pervis Talent Agency

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Joy Pervis Weighs In

1. What makes you unique as an agency?

The energy and drive of our JPTA Team.  Each of our agents have their own diverse strengths, and egos are not allowed in our work space.  Most importantly, we continue to adjust and grow with our ever-changing industry. The landscape of our business looks completely different than what it looked like even 5 years ago. Our long-term relationships (over 25 years) in the Los Angeles market have allowed us to grown our clients and expand beyond the regional mindset.

2. How long have you been in business?

We just celebrated our 10 year anniversary in 2017!

3. What do you look for in an actor who is seeking representation with you?

Other than kids and young teens (who do not need heavy resumes and reels to book), our aim is to continue filling our roster with working actors who have solid credits. Through referrals or showcases, we may sign a person who is “new to the business” with a unique look or natural talent based on their personality, drive, charisma, and likability. We give them the opportunity to grow on our roster IF they demonstrate good work ethics, dependability, remain dedicated to advancing their skills through ongoing training, and after a growth period begin to receive call-backs which ultimately turn into bookings.

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4. What is your best piece of advice for actors working in the SE?

Learn to accept criticism and build on it. Agents are not here to stroke you and tell you how fabulous you are. A good agent will be 100 percent transparent with you and give you the advice and sometimes criticism needed to advance your career. This is a competitive industry. SE actors have to work over-time to compete with seasoned LA actors who are competing for the same roles. Being an actor is your profession and you are the product. Your job is to make YOU (the product) as alluring as possible to your buyer (CD/Director/Producer/Network/Studio). Allow your agent and coach to act as your “focus group” giving you the tips and advice to perfect and grow your brand. Be open-minded and enjoy the journey of becoming a viable long-term product versus a short-term product that fizzles out quickly.  

5. Share a success story with us. Keep in mind it can be for you as an agent or specific to a client and their journey.  

Our success stories have come from the smallest bookings to the largest bookings. From the newbie actor to the most seasoned actor.  But if we had to say just one, it would be the story of a collective group of actors who have worked years in this business, attended too many auditions, callbacks, producer sessions to count but just couldn’t book it. After accepting that final audition just before they walked away from the business to “take a break,” they are told they booked the one that launched their career… You know who you are! This is a tough business. It is easy to get discouraged and give up. Rarely are success stories created over-night. In fact, it is the overnight sensations that have been working on their craft for many years before they make it big. If you really want it, you have to be 100 percent committed.

Stay motivated, stay positive, and never give up!

Learn more about the J Pervis Talent Agency here! 

Is My Agent Doing Everything They Need To For Me?

I get asked this question a lot.

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It’s a difficult one to answer. At the end of the day, it’s a relationship. Everyone knows that relationships are hard. They take a lot of work on both sides. They can be messy and infuriating, but they can also be amazing and fulfilling.

Although you feel that you are open-minded in your assessment. One side of the story often makes it difficult to tell. Once you begin to question, then all too often resentment is the next step. As in any relationship, the struggle to recover from that negative energy, can make it difficult to salvage.

At the end of the day, the number one job of an agent is to get you opportunities. These opportunities can come in a lot of different forms, but by far the most important is auditions. If you are receiving regular audition appointments, then your agent is doing a large part of their job. They are submitting you on the breakdowns that come out, and casting is asking for you mostly off of the agent’s submission/recommendation.

Ultimately, you may want to consider whether you are doing everything you need to for your agent?

The agent’s work is only one part of the puzzle, and in the big picture, it’s a relatively small one. You have to make sure you are always doing everything you can to set yourself up for success. Try making the job easy for your agent. If casting wants to pitch you on a big project, and your agent has to chase you down for your latest reel, then you are definitely not making it easy.

Arm your agent with ALL the necessary tools and just see where that takes you. It may well lead to something amazing and fulfilling.

Looking For An Agent? Part Three

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There are a lot of agencies out there.

Keep in mind that the more established agencies may have deep ties to casting and to the entertainment community, but that does not mean that a smaller or newer agency lacks the ability to represent you very well.

You can try sending open cover letters to submissions for every agency in town, but I recommend that you gather plenty of information and pitch yourself to a specific, handful of agencies. Be sure that they do not already have a number of actors who are similar to you and use this as a selling feature.

Customize your email and/or letter. Refer to specific agents, personalize the note. If you saw them on a panel and were impressed, mention it. If you have a showcase or performance coming up, then offer free tickets.

Referrals are increasingly important, and some agencies will not consider talent who have not been referred. If you have two or three vouch for you, even better. These individuals can open the door for you and boost your credibility.

If you receive a flat no, then back away. You can try again after about six months if you are still in the market. If you do not have any luck with your top choices, then move on to another handful. Continue to be proactive, and you will land an agent, but it may take awhile.

Most important of all is to use this time to get stronger and stronger in you work as an actor and train, train, train.

SPOTLIGHT ON: People Store

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1. What makes you unique as an agency?

What make us unique is our ability to forge lasting and meaningful relationships. Our top priority has always been to fight for our clients, to guide them in every aspect of their career in order to help them achieve their goals. We do this by utilizing our relationships with casting directors all across the country, by staying at the forefront of technological advancement, and by thinking outside the box.

We were the first agency in Atlanta to join the Association of Talent Agents (ATA) and over the years have developed relationships with agencies and managers in other markets to broaden opportunities for our clients.

Additionally, we pride ourselves on our warm and welcoming company for both our clients and our staff and it is this balance of smart and tough business dealings and warm family environment that makes us so unique.

We love our People Store family, our valued colleagues around the country, and of course helping our clients achieve their wildest career dreams here in Atlanta and worldwide.

2. How long have you been in business?

We have been in business in Atlanta since 1983, and to say that we have been here a long time would be an understatement. Atlanta is our home, and it is this stability, consistency, and commitment to Atlanta which casting directors and agents around the world have come to associate with People Store.

3. What do you look for in an actor who is seeking representation with you?

We are looking for, first and foremost, talent. Innate talent, that natural ability and charisma that you feel when an actor walks into a room for the first time. You know it when you see it, or at least we do!

We want clients at the top of their game, in skill, training, and savvy to the modern business world of acting; actors ready to work, to do their own part for their own careers, and willing to trust us to do our part in taking them to the next level.

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4. What is your best piece of advice for actors working in the South East?

Our best advice for actors in the South East is to stay here! With all of the movies and TV shows shooting here in Atlanta, we are on the cusp of something truly exciting in the industry. People Store is committed to making Atlanta the arts hub we know it can be, and it’s going to take talented actors to help make that dream a reality.

Actors are finding more and more opportunity right here. It’s not like it used to be, you don’t have to go out to LA to find work, LA talent is coming here to get cast, and as our region continues to grow our local talent will continue to flourish.

5. Share a success story with us. Keep in mind it can be for you as an agent or specific to a client and their journey.

It is tough to pin down one specific story, with so many series regulars and consistently working actors on our roster, we have been extremely fortunate. We are just as excited when a young talent books their first credit as we are booking a lead in a major motion picture.

A wonderful example would be someone like Shannon Purser. We saw her at a talent showcase and brought her on. Her very first booking earned her an Emmy nomination for Stranger Things, internet fame, and she has worked consistently since then.

There is so much talent here in Atlanta, and it is a joy for us to find it, cultivate its growth, and ultimately help them achieve their dreams!