So what happens if the agent’s preferred mode of communication isn’t working for you? It’s a tough situation to be in, so take a deep breath and realize that you are likely already frustrated. Asking your agent to change what is working well for him/her, and in doing so causing him/her to be less effective for every talent on their roster probably isn’t a good idea. That doesn’t mean you are stuck, though!
Agents work in a world that talent never see. Talent work in a world that agents seldom understand. Like peanut butter and jelly, the two can work in conjunction to create a timeless partnership, but taking time to figure out the other person’s world can help bridge that gap.
I took an acting class last year. It had been years since I had performed and frankly, it brought back a lot of really exhilarating feelings, but it also drudged up a lot of fear and anxiety I used to know all too well. As an agent, I had forgotten some of the trials that actors face on a daily basis and I was thankful (after surviving the month long torture session at the hands of a very talented and grueling coach) that I could be reminded of what I felt as a talent. Sympathizing again with the actor’s emotions, dreams, and road-blocks helped me connect better with my actors and think on their terms when discussing their opportunities.
Actors can do the same thing by exposing themselves to the production side of the industry. Previous blogs have suggested interning to see what life on the other side of the camera is truly like. Actors and models who have freelanced or interned for the agency are shocked to learn what an average day is like. And like my sympathy for the actor, those actors who have seen the daily highs and lows of being behind the desk become more understanding and forgiving of the agent’s position.
So you don’t prefer the agent’s mode of communication, right? All of the sympathy talk is leading us to this point. Your agent is a human, too. Your agent has feelings, hopes, dreams, desires, and dares to think that all the hard work will pay off one day – just like you. If you find it impossible to communicate with them as they have requested, ask (through their requested mode of communication) to have some of their time. If you can get them out of the office for coffee or a drink it’s even better. Let them know you are frustrated with the form of communication. Be clear about what exactly you need rather than what you aren’t getting. And then be open to allowing the agent to suggest a plan that might be a compromise you can both agree to try.
You have an agent working hard for you. Don’t lose it over something that can be easily fixed with a little time, tact, and professional consideration!