Who does your lawyer or agent work for?
When I was an actor in the early 1800s (ok, not that long ago, maybe the 1850s), every one of my friends (and myself included) desperately wanted an agent. We sent out 100s of headshots, went to pay-to-meet classes, and so on. Landing an agent was like getting the Head Cheerleader to go to the Prom with you.
And just like landing the Head Cheerleader, it usually wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be (please – no letters from the Head Cheerleaders Union or anything – I do acknowledge that my last statement was a sweeping generalization).
A lot of my writer consultation clients come in drooling for an agent as well.
And even up and coming Producers are desperate to find the right lawyer to rep them and their show as they head out into the world.
I’m not dismissing the work that agents/lawyers/managers and other reps do, mind you. At the right point in your career, these folks (and there are really good ones out there) are essential for you to climb up to the next rung of success on the ladder of your career (and tomorrow I’ll talk about my secret for getting an agent).
But what happens is that because most people put them in that Head Cheerleader category, the relationship starts off a little wonky.
I worked for an agent for a while, and I was always shocked to watch super smart actor/business people (actors are running their own business after all), speak to their agents (or not speak, actually) . . . all doe-eyed, listening and doing everything they say. Even when it wasn’t the right thing for them!
“My agent said I should take the job/turn it down/not audition/audition/move to LA/Chicago/Mexico.”
Same is true for producers and their lawyers.
“My lawyer said I should offer this/walk away/give more/say no.”
When I hear people make these kinds of statements these days, I always say . . .
“What do you want to do?”
You’d be surprised how many times I hear . . . again . . . “Well my agent/lawyer/manager thinks . . .”
Ahem. What do YOU think?
You should 101% listen to your representation. That’s why they are there. Just like the President listens to his cabinet. Just like a Chairman of the Board should listen to his/her board members.
But at the end of the day, who does your representation work for?
They work for you.
You pay them. So you call the shots.
So when faced with a decision that is going to affect your career, get all the opinions you can, from your agents, lawyers, parents, shrinks, whoever . . . and then find a quiet place and make the decision that you want to make. (Use the 10/10/10 rule to help you – ask yourself “If I say Yes, how will I feel in 10 minutes? How will I feel in 10 months? How will I feel in 10 years?)
And if your agent or lawyer doesn’t agree with you and wants to drop you because you want to make a different decision than they would? Guess what, they weren’t the agent or lawyer for you in the first place. Sayonara, muchacho!
It’s hard, I know, I’ve been there. It took a long time for you to get people “on your team,” and you don’t want to lose them. But this is your career. Not theirs.
See, the thing about agents and lawyers is . . . they have other clients.
So if something doesn’t go your way, they’ll be ok.
But you? You at least want to know that you made the decision you wanted to make, so you’re not regretting it for 10 minutes/10 months or 10 years.
Because, well . . . how many clients do you have?
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