Apples and Oranges – Meeting Industry Pro’s in Person

Written by Gywn Gilliss

Professional Interviews CAN be nerve-racking OR they can be FUN!

There are TWO IMPORTANT THINGS to remember!

THE FIRST important thing is that you are there because they are INTERESTED in you!

A client recently asked me naïvely if her offers to have 3 agent meetings were because they were just being “polite”. NO, they were NOT being polite. No one has time to waste going through the process of interviewing you or making you drive there, park (pay for a cab or a bus) and spend 10-30 minutes for NO reason!

If after a meeting you do not get a response such as an offer for signed representation, a follow-up meeting so both parties can be “sure” or at the very least an offer of free-lance representation, then YOU are doing something WRONG! You are not creating the most positive presentation OR you are not giving them the right information – i.e that you are a winner and will book a lot of work! There was a disconnect somewhere.

The exception to this? Sometimes after speaking with you and discovering more about you an agent may feel that you are too similar to a current client, something that wasn’t apparent at first meeting. So, your strategy? Stay in touch and know that you have a potential agent for the future. Things change, clients leave. When the time is right, you’ll hear from them.

THE SECOND important thing is – They NEED to know how to represent you, hire you or cast you!
So no matter what you discuss or chat about you HAVE to get this valuable information into their consciousness IF you want a successful follow-up relationship.

OK…now comes the APPLES and ORANGES technique.

Every Agent interview I’ve ever experienced and that of thousands of clients goes something like this:


“So what are doing now?” OR

“What’s happening with you?” OR

“What have you been doing recently?”

It’s a trick question and doesn’t mean LITERALLY “What are you doing now”? It means, “Tell me why I should work with the next minute or so.”

They NEED to know if you are bookable, are you marketable? are you likeable? Will you come through for them so they can make that precious 10% if they commit and work hard for YOU. But most actors answer the question literally. BIG MISTAKE!- Unless you are currently starring in a Broadway show, just booked a major film, just got cast in a network commercial that will earn you big bucks – you get the picture.

So what do you say if you haven’t got recent major credits?

Let’s start with the DON’T’s-

Example #1:

AGENT: What are you doing now?

ACTOR: Um, nothing. It’s been slow.

Example #2:

AGENT: What are you doing now?

ACTOR: Uh, I’m in class and…um, I have a job at a bar.

Example #3:

AGENT: What are you doing now?

ACTOR: I was an extra in the new Oliver Stone movie and I did a short scene in a 10 minute Student film a few weeks ago.

All of which will NOT get ANY professional interested in you. It doesn’t tell them that you will be successful or know how to run your career effectively OR what parts you can play, get cast in or that ANYONE else thinks well enough of you to cast you in anything major! Did you ever see an agent smile with a blank look on their face and say sweetly,“Really nice to meet you…let me know when you’re IN something…”?

This is their friendly attempt to get you to LEAVE. They don’t want to offend you, they realize you aren’t ready for an agent, aren’t getting work on your own and want them to do all the heavy work of selling you without making any money for the effort. OF COURSE THEY WANT YOU TO GET OUT OF THEIR OFFICE.

Now, let’s flip it…when you hear the classic line, “What are you doing now?”(APPLES), answer ORANGES.

So, instead of answering the absolute boring truth you answer YOUR truth, YOUR story. Tell them about your type, your passion, your most successful portrayal, the most exciting audition you ever had. Tell them a story they will enjoy hearing. You are accomplishing two things-showing them who you really are and entertaining them- that you are a brilliant actor who can sell himself. It’s not always important

that you have major credits from two weeks or two months ago. It’s important that they can rely on you to MAKE your career successful. It’s your SPIRIT and INTENTION that will get them on board.

Some of the DO’s.

Example #1: AGENT (APPLES): What are you doing now?

ACTOR (ORANGES): I’m very pro-active, submit myself all the time and I’m developing a fun,new webisode with a few really good actors who are friends. I play a character just like Tina Fey from 30 ROCK-I wrote it as well and we’re even looking for sponsors to promote it and make it very financially successful. I THINK WE FOUND OUR FIRST ONE. There’s a budget! And that Indy film I shot a few months ago is headed for Sundance! I’m excited! The performances are so good – it might win an award. I played a quirky nurse in a starring role and it was an absolute hoot! The director wants to cast me in his next feature. (Very few agents could resist an actor who might be seen at Sundance or who created a project that might make $$ and that a film director wants to hire you again!)

Example #2:

AGENT (APPLES): What are you doing now?

ACTOR (ORANGES): Auditioning like crazy and by the way I study with Blah-blah, who I think is the best in the business- his students include Ed Norton, Demi Moore, Sean Penn…(name 3-4 prominent actors/movie stars/B’way stars). My career is on a path like theirs! And I’m consistently building my network of Top A list Casting Directors- just last week I met the CD’s from White Collar / LAW & Order-LA! They think I’m perfect for this undercover cop role. I play a lot of those.

(Most agents would be thrilled that you count yourself in the same circle as major movie stars as far as your training and that you are making an effort to meet all the top CD’s so you WILL work on major shows).

Example #3:

AGENT (APPLES): What are you doing now?

ACTOR (ORANGES): When I got cast in the Oliver Stone film I was excited to play a featured role – got a chance to meet him and talk to him! And I’m shooting a really great film script with a young director (some say he is the next Steven Soderberg) next week. It’s a new genre for him- romantic comedy and he thinks I’m his perfect romantic heroine!

Agents are very pleased when you keep working on projects with potential up and coming directors or that you’ve met a major film producer/director. If you were really only an extra in a crowd scene with 100 other people,then DON’T mention the Oliver Stone film but talk about the great work you did in the smaller project that has potential to be very successful.

Talking ORANGES: Never lie or boast. Just be passionate and excited about your experiences. See the potential in everything and express yourself uber-optimistically. It’s not cool to be cool. Agents have to see the potential and will misconstrue the “laid-back” for the “loser”. So, be a winner!

Happy Oranges, Mangoes, Strawberries!

Successful Marketing!


Gwyn Gilliss is the Founder and Executive Director of TAM, The Actor’s Market, a marketing firm for actors. They provide monthly FREE seminars/teleseminars, FREE weekly marketing tips as well as access to top photographers, graphic artists and videographers who provide every marketing tool an actor needs. Gwyn’s acting career spans several decades during which time she appeared on and off-Broadway, in classical roles in American Repertory companies in over 18 contract and recurring roles in Daytime/Prime time TV, Films and dozens of network commercials/V.O.’s. As the foremost Marketing/Career Coach she is available to work One-on-One with ready-to-succeed actors.

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