The Breakup

Apr 9, 2012 by     16 Comments    Posted under: Relationships, Representation, Three Actors

Broken Heart

It happened. We broke up. My (now former) commercial agency and I parted ways. Thankfully, of all the breakups I’ve ever had, this one actually went pretty well.

Let’s back up. I signed with CESD about a year and a half ago, after a friend of mine referred me and we had a stellar meeting. Everyone over there are consummate professionals, and I knew when I signed with them that it was a business relationship I was going to trust.

So what happened? In short, we weren’t making money and my contract expired. For the first year auditions came in waves, but they came. For the past few months, though, for whatever reason we weren’t able to get me any auditions, so when my contract came up to be renewed, they decided not to re-sign me.

What I Learned

1) Go in trusting

When I first signed with CESD I knew they were a top agency and that I was going to trust them for the extent of my contract (18 months). I knew that even if things were slow they were doing the best they could and it was worth being with them. This allowed me an incredible peace of mind during the inevitable ebb and flow of auditions.

2) Maintain Relationships

This experience was a stellar reminder that it behooves every actor to maintain contact with everyone, especially people you work with or could conceivably ever work with. Because I had stayed in contact with people I’d met years ago, I didn’t have to start from ground zero.

What I Would Have Done Differently

1) Marketing

I would have been more active in marketing to the commercial world. I always sent thank you notes to anyone who brought me in, but I wasn’t consistent in targeting the top commercial CDs and continually updating them on my career. More active marketing might have kept the auditions coming.

2) Communication, communication, communication

I would have had a direct conversation with the agency when the auditions dried up. “What can I do?” Clearly something had stopped working, and I would have made more of an effort to figure out what was going on, and more importantly what I could do about it. The earlier you have this conversation, the better. Once a problem has persisted for a while it may be too late to fix it.

3) Classes

I was in the midst of a lot of commercial classes (Killian’s Workshop, improv at UCB) when I started at CESD. Both being in those classes, and having them on my resume, I think were helpful in generating a lot of auditions. As time went on, however, I began to focus a little bit more on other areas of my career. Not coincidentally, my commercial auditions started to dry up. All this to say, that were I to do it over again I would have stayed more active in commercial classes.

The Rebound

As with any Hollywood breakup story, it wouldn’t be complete without a new love. Upon parting ways with CESD I first conversed with my manager and then immediately called over to my friends at Brick Entertainment. I’ve known Kenny and Nelson for about two years, after initially meeting them on twitter (that’s right). I told them I was recently single, but that I only wanted to mingle with them. I went in for a meeting, we discussed what I’ve been up commercially, how each of us see me in the commercial world, and ultimately decided to work together. They are two of the smartest people in this business, and I’m thrilled to be working with them.

Final Thoughts

If you decide to stay around this business long enough to find success, it’s all but inevitable that you will work with many different agents and managers. Remember to always treat everyone with respect (i.e. don’t badmouth your ex), and always be maintaining all your industry relationships. You never know where you’ll be in 5 years.

Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.