Woman being interviewed.

3 Questions Talent Agents Should Ask Before They Rep You

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How well does your agent know you?

When you are in charge of auditioning on your own, you have the ability to quickly decide whether or not you are a good fit. As we’ve discussed before, being objective about your talent and abilities is key! You know what you’re willing to record and not willing to record.

That said, what happens when you get an agent?

Are you destined to receive any and all casting calls, or will those auditions be more tailored to you and your preferences?

An agent can only see what they see and hear what they hear. They aren’t inside your head and don’t know your preferences unless you expressly tell them.

Here are three questions any good agent will ask in order to make the most of your time and abilities – before taking you on.

1. Are you open to coaching?

How easy are you to work with? Are you open to feedback or guidance? Do you come across as needy or entitled?

Talent agents are thinking predominantly of the bottom line. They are efficient and expect you to play at their level. To that end, if you’re new to the field (or to an agency), talent agents will want to know if you are coachable.

Being coachable means that you:

  • Keep an open mind
  • Take direction well
  • Possess humility
  • Receive constructive criticism
  • Apply learnings without grumbling
  • Seek out opportunities for growth

A talent agent is not your mom, babysitter or life coach. They are there to get you work. Make it easier on them by being open to their guidance and showing how coachable you are from the beginning.

Being accountable for your attitude and knowing your role in the relationship goes a long way to booking work through a talent agent.

2. Do you have any concerns regarding the kinds of jobs you audition for?

This could be on a personal or professional level. For example, you may be strongly opposed to recording for tobacco companies if someone you loved passed away from emphysema.

Other influencing factors may include religious beliefs, politics or brand affiliations. Language choices may also contribute to defining your scope of work. In order to communicate to anyone else what your boundaries are, you first need to define and articulate them for yourself.

Looking at the flip side, you may have areas of voice-over work that really excite you. Being passionate about issues, ideas and causes can play a role in the sort of work that you do. One of the most important jobs a voice actor has is to sound believable to their audience.

Here’s a framework for how to do that:

  • Discover who you are and what makes you tick (take a personality test, perhaps!)
  • Develop a personal and professional brand
  • Draw lines in the sand for what work you are willing to voice
  • Know what your signature voice is
  • Identify the types of projects that most excite you — you’ll voice these more convincingly

3. Do you have any potential conflicts to be aware of?

What are you currently the voice of? In the world of agency and union VO, conflicts need to be declared to ensure that you don’t record or advocate as a spokesperson for a brand that competes directly with one of your clients.

A good example:

As the voice of Ford, you would not record voice-overs for Jaguar. As different as those carmakers are, you can appreciate that brands will want exclusivity around their sound and do not wish to confuse their sound with other voices and brand identities in the automotive sector.

To further paint a picture for you, Walt Disney was very protective of his voice actors early on. To keep their identities secret, Disney chose not to credit the voice talent in any of his productions between 1937 and 1942.

In an extreme case, the actress who voiced Snow White was contractually obligated to not voice any other characters. The reasoning for this was to preserve her voice for all time as Snow White. While this arrangement limited Adriana Caselotti’s career in many ways, the Disney franchise treated her with great respect and she’ll always be remembered as the iconic voice of a beloved Disney princess.

What Do You Think?

Are there any questions you believe talent agents should ask you before you sign on to their roster?

What have you found helps here?

Looking forward to your reply!

Stephanie

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