How many times when you were growing up did your parents tell you that you needed to respect other people, or cooperate with others? Well, it's good advice and you should apply that to your agent! Scott Powers (http://www.scottpowers.com/), Acting Coach, expands on this topic.
If it's one thing for years that agents, managers and casting directors say in interviews, at forums, seminars and classes all over town and agree upon, it's that they want personality from the talent. Talent and good looks figure in somewhere down the list, with talent sometimes near the bottom.
More recently, two more attributes have been making enough repeated mentions to make them eligible to join the firmament: Respect and Cooperation. Perhaps this is a manifestation of the current dismal, unresponsive economy and the corroding desperation that is seeping into our society. As a result, there has been a marked increase in surliness and meanness. While it is never welcome in any circumstance, in our industry it can be especially damaging.
It would be wise to have Respect for those who can hire or represent you. It has always been a buyer's market and always will be. To quote a prominent agent: "We only work with the people we want to." Remember, these industry professionals are here to help you and guide you. They want you to succeed. And, of course, they benefit as well. Resisting their well-intentioned efforts never ends well. Keep in mind that agents, casting directors and managers all work killer hours, don't make as much money as you think, work with unreasonable clients, and you should be a bright spot in their day, not yet another source of friction. Do not treat them like dirt. Similarly, they don't have to be put on a pedestal, either. I recently watched in amusement as an actor tried to have an argument with a director. The results were as expected. Director won, actor lost. More precisely, actor fired. Moral of the story: Do not argue with "them." If they make a suggestion, it's for your own good, and for the good of your relationship with them. Do not practice the "tell me the truth as long as it's what I want to hear" syndrome. That actor went on to make snarky comments about the incident. It only served to make him more of an untouchable in the eyes of those who could hire or represent him in the future. Remember, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Cooperation is also becoming more and more an issue. This industry is based on projects: a show, a commercial, a film, etc. All different skills must mesh together seamlessly to produce the final product. An actor should stand out by fitting in. There is no "I" in team. Being a team player is critical. Being a rock in the stream of progress is a quick way to no-pay-land. I once had a discussion with an actor who claimed he wanted to act in films and said the reason he wanted to be an actor because he didn't want to be a team player. Needless to say, he didn't last long in this business. If somebody asks something of you, please do it. Everything you do must make their job easier. Asking, "What can I do to help you" is music to their ears. It's no different than any other job, except you're still hoping to get the job or representation after each short term job won. For all of those who have had the experience of working n the "real world," if you can't (or won't) work with the boss, you're SOL. No different here. Is someone is still intent on alienating everybody around them, the best answer is to put together a one-man show and head off to Don't Tell Mama's with relatives and any friends in tow to provide the comfort blanket star reassurance. If that's not in your career game plan, cooperation might come in handy.
All the agents, casting directors and managers we work with here have huge respect for actors. They all know the incredibly tough job an actor has, day in and day out. "They" are all hired in one way or another to get the best output from the actor. Collectively, actors are "the money." An individual actor may not be.
A close cousin of Respect and Cooperation is Be Nice. As always, you don't know who can help you or who can hurt you. You may never know who really gave the nod to hire you. Or said, "Mmmmm, we'll pass." It's easier to hire a nice person than a thundercloud looking like the world owes them a living. Have you ever noticed that successful people tend to smile a lot? There's a lesson there they've learned a long time ago.
The next time you interface with "them," think about how you can add just a little bit of Respect in the interface. Then add, How can I introduce Cooperation into this equation? No, you're not going to be a suck-up -- that's easily detected. Every interaction should be a positive experience, initiated by you. You're being professional and you're making yourself easily hired. Add in a dollop of Be Nice and that's a winning actor out there.
You'll notice them; they're the ones always working.
If you want to be successful, take your parents age-old advice--it will get you places. What can you do to be more respectful and cooperative?