[Headshot Photography Santa Monica by Vanie]
Blog written by Sarah D.
I’m honored to have my returning client Sarah D. as a guest blogger on this post! I think her story is well written and an invaluable source of information for the novice actor. Please enjoy and share!
We have all heard it before:
“It’s called show business.”
“Well, yeah, duh,” we all say to ourselves, but the reality of it is that very few actors actually understand the business aspect of it. We’ve all taken classes, read books, drowned ourselves in plays—truly committed ourselves to the craft—but when it comes to the BUSINESS of acting, it’s really learn-as-you-go.
Now I’m not here to tell you how it is. I wish I could say I’ve figured it all out and here it is for you, in a nutshell and on a platter. I can’t. But I CAN tell you about a recent situation I found myself in, which didn’t end so pleasantly. I had a case of bad manager blues.
ULTIMATELY, THE RELATIONSHIP WENT SOUTH. I needed to end it. I discovered I signed a bad contract that left me NO exit clause. In fact, according to the wording, if I went to my manager and said I wanted out, he could fine me for early termination. Yes, shame on me for signing that.
After consulting a lawyer, it was determined that the contract was unenforceable due to the fact that it had no exit clause for me, and all the penalties were against me, none for him. Too bad that did not absolve me from walking away from the agreement without legal assistance.
NEEDLESS TO SAY, it has been quite an interesting year. One filled with frustration and angst. But I have learned a lot from this situation. I have certainly grown more critical and stronger as a businesswoman.
Here are just a few tidbits you should keep in mind.
• It’s OK to NOT sign a contract on the spot. In fact, you SHOULD have a copy of it reviewed by a lawyer, be it friend or family. Not all contracts are alike, and it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to protect yourself.
• Make sure you have an exit clause. If something is not working, you need to be able to get out of a contract, clean and fast.
• Your manager should have an office– AN ACTUAL OFFICE. And no, the coffee bar at a fancy hotel does not count.
• If your agent or manager is legit, they will have access to the breakdowns and be able to submit you electronically via Breakdown Express.
In order to get a Breakdown Express account, talent agencies must be licensed and managers must belong to the Talent Managers Association. Managers are NOT REQUIRED to join the TMA, so be wary of those who are not.
• Remember, your manager and agents work for you and with you. This is a no-brainer, but in a town of people pleasers it’s good to remember, don’t let someone you are working with tell you that you aren’t good enough. YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH, and if they don’t agree then they should not be representing you.
• Keep a detailed diary of all your meetings and their content. If things go bad, you have a written record you can use to prove your case.
• It is ok to set boundaries. Some managers are more hands-on than others, but they do NOT need to know who you are sleeping with or what you ate for breakfast. Really, they don’t.
• And one last thing: Never, EVER, pay an agent or manager unless you book something. Do not pay them for their “time,” advice, or whatever they may be claiming compensation for. They make money when YOU make money; generally, 10% – 15% of whatever you book.
I love helping you by putting out this free information (often written on weekends and evenings) so please help me spread the word by commenting and or sharing this post on your social feed!🙏🏻