An Actor’s Life In New York City Part 3.
Representation. This is by far one of the most difficult things to get as an actor in NYC. A lot of people will tell you, “You need an agent”, but what no one will tell you is how to get one.
For 3 years I had no representation despite taking many meetings with different agencies. It was always the same thing, “You’re a 6′ 3″, handsome white man? We already have, like, 10 of you.” I didn’t understand how anyone got an agent! I mean, you must be really interesting looking if they’re going to sign you, but then how did those other 6′ 3″ handsome white men get in?! Another popular one was “You need more work on your resume.” To work, you need representation. To get representation, you need work. It all felt like a Catch-22 to me. And remember, at this point I had 2 recurring roles in 2 television series, an Off-Broadway show, and a huge national commercial that was discussed on The View. I felt that I was a pretty good prospect, but, apparently to everyone else, I wasn’t.
Instead of wallowing, I made the decision that I was a good, if not great, prospect and decided to do something drastic and slightly unkosher. Fed up with taking meetings that left me feeling less than, I compiled a list of email addresses for 107 agents and managers that I pulled from “The Callsheet” on backstage.com and IMDbPro. One by one, I wrote a personalized email to each agent and manager describing what I had done and what I bring as an actor, along with my headshot and resume. I pressed “Send” 107 times and then the big wait began.
I started to second-guess what I had done and made up a ton of reasons why my email wasn’t good enough or why I wasn’t good enough and why no one was responding to me. This is called “Actor Crazy”. Throughout the week, only 3 people got back to me. One who said, “We can’t represent you at this time,” another who said, “Looks great, Paul! But I already have a few of you in my roster,” and finally, one who said, “I’m interested. Let’s meet.”
IT WORKED! I couldn’t believe it. A manager was actually interested in me and saw my worth. I went to meet with him, did a few cold reads of some old TV scripts, and he liked me, he really liked me (cue Sally Fields). He just had to get the go-ahead from the LA office and about a week later I signed with him and he’s still my manager to this day.
The acting business is fickle, arbitrary, irrational, and oftentimes requires risks to be taken to get yourself out there. Since signing with my manager, I’ve auditioned for big TV shows and films that I never would have been seen for before. The last puzzle piece fell into place.
But how do you stay positive when you don’t book anything for a year or more?