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Monday, 02 February 2015 00:00

Q&A with agent Rebecca Kirby

dsl signAgent with Michelle Braidman Associates Ltd.

Rebecca Kirby joined the Michelle Braidman team in 2007 after two years at Ken McReddie Associates Ltd. She graduated from De Montfort University in 2003 with a BA (Hons) in Performing Arts.

Do I really need an agent straight away?
Ideally, yes. A good agent will have the experience, expertise and contacts to open doors for you that will otherwise be difficult. However having said that, it is better to be care of Spotlight and submit yourself for roles than be represented by a bad agent.

How do I choose which agents to write to?
Go to the PMA (Personal Managers' Association) website where you can find a list of all the reputable agencies that adhere to the PMA's codes of conduct. There's also Spotlight's book Contacts. Ask other actors, directors, and tutors for their personal recommendations.

If I'm invited in for a chat, what is the agent really looking for?
If I have brought you in I will have already seen you perform, so I know you can act. I now want to find out about you as a person. Where are you from? When did you start performing? Do you dance? Can you sing? What instruments do you play? What are your hobbies? What's your dream role/job? All of these things help build up an idea of the kind of person you are. I'm trying to assess if we would work well together.

I want an agent to be a mentor not just someone who sends me for auditions. Is that pie in the sky?
Just like actors, every agent is different. That's why it's so important at the start of your career to meet as many as possible, be it in one on one meetings or talks at places like your drama school, Spotlight or the Actor's Centre. You need to make sure that your agent is the right fit for you.

I have to balance a career with paying the rent, does an agent always appreciate that?
There are only a select few actors who are lucky enough to work consistently enough to never rely on another source of income. Agents understand this. It's important for you to find a flexible way of supporting yourself between acting jobs. Agents will only get frustrated with you if you prioritise your 'day' job over auditions and acting commitments they have worked hard to get you.

I am very ambitious and want to get off to a flying start in my first couple of years, will an agent understand that?
Of course! Any agent will want that too. If you are not working they are not taking commission. It's important to realise that it's a marathon not a sprint though. You should be focusing on having good meetings with industry professionals with a view to longevity in your career.

Should my photos be honest or flattering? Colour or black and white?
They should be honest. That doesn't mean they have to be unflattering! It's you on a good day. It needs to look like you when you walk into an audition. For example, if you never wear make-up don't start on the day you have your headshots taken, or don't straighten your hair when you usually wear your hair curly. Unless you always sport a beard, go in clean shaven. Despite what you may think, a little bit of stubble does not make you look older! Always wear something plain and unfussy so you are the focus of the shot, rather than your outfit. Take a range of tops in different colours, with different necklines to change into during the session. Most photographers work with digital cameras these days, so all your photographs will be in colour. It will be up to you and your agent to pick which ones you want to transfer into black and white. B&W has always been the industry standard in the U.K., where as it the U.S. it's colour. I think it's important to have both and tailor the photograph to each casting submission.


With thanks to Rebecca Kirby