This week Casting Days caught up with Jessica Lowe, agent at Simon How Agency, to get the low down on what it’s like to be an agent, along with some really useful tips for actors!
CD: What made you become an agent?
JL: I trained as a performer but quickly realised that I was interested in the other side of the industry. I started out as a children’s agent before moving over and working with adults. I’ve always been interested in the industry from a young age so it just made sense.
CD: What’s your typical day in the life of an agent?
JL: It’s busy!! It does differ from day to day but first and foremost I’d look at my emails and see what I need to deal with urgently. It’s then a case of looking through briefs and submitting our actors for the relevant work, chatting to Casting Directors, looking over and negotiating contracts, invoicing, meetings with new and existing talent, showcases, performances, booking in clients…. The list is endless but it makes the days go fast.
CD: What characteristics in an actor excite you?
JL: Passion, knowledge and commitment are really important. It’s great to work with actors who know their industry and are really passionate about what they do. I like to know that the actors I’m working with will give everything they have to auditions and are being proactive when we are not in contact.
CD: What do you look for in an actor who approaches you for representation?
JL: As well as the above, I think personality is a huge part of being an actor. As well as the usual, such as look, skill set etc I also need to be able to work with and get along with the actors that I represent. You communicate with each other sometimes daily and it’s important that there is a rapport between you.
CD: How should an actor approach an agent?
Generally an email submission is fine however it is great if they can invite us to see their work. I obviously cannot take anyone on whose work I haven’t seen. Saying that, if you’re not currently in anything a showreel is a great way for me to see what you can do and failing that, I will ask actors to prep a monologue for me if I’m keen to meet with them.
CD: How can actors ensure they stand out to casting directors?
JL: Be professional, friendly and PREPARED!
CD: What advice do you give to your actors before an audition?
BE PREPARED! You only have one chance to make an impression so don’t waste it. It’s crucial that you also know the Play/Film/TV Show that you are auditioning for so make sure you do your RESEARCH. As well as being off book and knowing your material, make sure you look into the casting director, director, production company and see their past work, it helps to give you an idea of their style and more of an idea of what they might be looking for.
CD: What would be your response to an actor who says “My agent isn’t any good! I never hear from them!”?
JL: I work hard for all my actors, as I’m sure all agents do. During those quieter periods, as much as I need to trust an actor that they are keeping on top of their game (going to class, learning a new skill, networking, researching, emailing) the actor also needs to trust that I am still working as hard for them as I always do. If you haven’t heard from your agent, they might be thinking exactly the same about you. It might be worth you picking up the phone or dropping them an email and asking them what you can do to help things along. It’s important that you take charge of your own career, not wait for other people to do so. Remember, it’s a hugely competitive industry and your agent is probably doing everything they can to get you in the room.
CD: What do you enjoy most about being an agent?
JL: The best part of what I do is calling to tell someone that they are confirmed for a job, especially when it’s a job that they really really want. Whether its’ a big feature that someone has had 4 recalls for or someone’s first job, if it’s something that the actor is excited about and has worked hard to get then it’s the same buzz.
CD: What’s the best piece of advice you could give an actor?
JL: There is so much advice out there for actors and I think you have to take on and absorb the bits that work for you as an individual. However, what I do think is important is to have a hobby outside of the acting industry. This is your craft, your job but I think it can be all consuming and it’s healthy for you to have another release to keep yourself sane. It’s also about taking time out for yourself and to be able to separate yourself from your work.
CD: Is there anything ie. attitude/approach that you note about actors you represent who are successful at auditions?
JL: I think nerves can play a huge part with casting. I’ve heard it before: “He was great but just too nervous”. Nerves not only affect your performance but also how you come across in the room. The Casting Director/Director need to be able to trust that you are going to pull it out the bag when the time is right and not crumble. Have confidence when you are casting. Yes it can be daunting but remember that a Casting Director is hoping you are ‘the one’ for the role. They want you to do well, they have invited you in and you have every right to be there. Own it.