Joe Tremaine interviews Dance Agent Terry Lindholm.
By Diane Christiansen
Success = Preparation + Opportunity
I learned this equation as a kid, and it is still the most valuable math lesson I have ever been taught. Success is not a fluke. It is the result of countless hours spent in preparation for the opportunity of a lifetime. We must prepare for success in order to seize it. A big part of preparing to succeed is putting in place the people and the infrastructure to keep your enterprise afloat. Even before your career is fully off the ground, you need to assemble the team that is best-suited to take you to the top. Some people make the mistake of waiting for opportunity to arrive before seeking out support. Surely you’ve heard the horror stories of successful individuals who somehow lost it all and later discovered the people they called friends were taking them for everything they had. Support is easy to obtain after the fact, that is, after you have attained success. Just ask MC Hammer. But the people you want to have on your team are those who truly believe in you, so much so that they are willing to accompany you on your journey to greatness, starting at the ground floor. In essence, they are investing in your future. They give their time and energy to help you fulfill your potential, and only when you succeed with their support will they get a return on their investment.
So let’s talk about who you need to your team.
- * Devil’s Advocate – The much-needed opposite of a “Yes Man,” this is the person who you can always count on to give it to you straight. Since straight-talk can hurt feelings, this person needs to be someone you trust implicitly and who has weathered a few storms with you. When everyone else is telling you to go right, your devil’s advocate will help you consider the possibility of going left. Ultimately, the decision is yours, but at least it will be an informed one.
- * Cheerleader – Whether you didn’t land the role you wanted or you don’t like your new headshots, this is the person who will always help you find the silver lining in a bad situation. Your cheerleader is not there to enable delusion, but rather to help you maintain perspective. Especially in this industry, you’re going to need a reality check to keep you grounded in what matters and to avoid losing yourself in what casting thinks of you.
- * An Agent – Obviously, right? But not just any agent will do. You and your agent need to be on the same page about the direction of your career. If you see yourself as an ingénue and your agent is submitting you for villains, then there’s a mismatch. Of course, one school of thought might encourage you to take whatever you can get. But how committed will you be to landing roles you don’t see yourself playing? Remember that you and your agent are in a partnership. Therefore, it’s best to find an agent that understands your niche and can find you the roles that allow you to shine.
- * Mentor – You need to have a person on your team who has walked the path you’re traveling and can alert you to potential pitfalls ahead. A good mentor will be a sounding board for the ideas you have about your career, never telling you what to do, but serving as a fountain of knowledge and experience to help you make the best decision for you. Whether by directly advising you with tips to improve your odds of success, or indirectly by connecting you to others in the industry with a good referral, your mentor can be an invaluable resource.
- * Hollywood Outsider – We’ve all heard of those folks who “go Hollywood,” and it never seems to be a good a thing. Having someone in your circle who could care less about who’s who in Hollywood will remind you that there is life outside of acting. So whenever you need to get away for a minute, your Hollywood Outsider can give you the balance you need to refill your tank from the depletion of Hollywood.
Part 2: “It’s gotten really competitive since the onslaught of the So You Think You Can Dancers,” said Tim O’Brien, dance agent and President of Clear Talent Group, of the current reality facing professional dancers in Los Angeles. When Master Dance Teacher Joe Tremaine recently sat down with Tim, and Shelli Margheritis of McDonald Selznick & Associates, two of the city’s top dance agencies, each of them opened up on what else dancers need to know when seeking representation and what the agents expect of them.
MAKING THE MOVE TO A LARGE MARKET
Agents recognize that making the move to Los Angeles or any large market, is a tough decision. They also admit that sometimes the only way for you to realize if it’s the right decision for you, is for you to make that move. If you plan to take that step, be prepared. Understand that this industry comes with a lot of rejection. It can be a lot of fun and it can be a great career, but it’s definitely not easy. Then, once you’re in that city, be sure to take class and get a feel for the flavor in that particular city, as each market has a different vibe.
MOVING TO L.A. / GETTING REPRESENTATION
Once you make the move, especially to Los Angeles, you will want to seek representation. Having an agent helps you hear about the best jobs, gets you in for agency auditions and helps protect you once you have booked the job. Each agency has their own guidelines for finding talent and receiving submissions from prospective talent. Some hold their auditions once or twice each year, you can find out the dates of those auditions by contacting them directly. Most talent agencies also accept submissions either electronically through e-mail or in hard copy format, but the role of digital media cannot be ignored. Due to the demands on each agent’s time, they usually prefer receiving links to performance reels posted to online sites such as YouTube, as this allows them to quickly review the dancers look and technique and efficiently share that link with the other agents in their office.
WHAT AGENTS LOOK FOR
Contrary to popular belief, agents have a wide range of what they seek in a dancer they want to represent, but a great look and that indescribable “it” factor always top the list. Remember that each and every project has different requirements, whether it be a niche forte or good, well-rounded dancers, and the agents goal is to fill those roles. They do warn however, to be on top of your game, especially if you are specialized. For instance, if you’re a b-boy, you better be the best b-boy and know all your tricks. They also stress the importance of technique. The more technique you have the farther your dance career will take you.
AGENT’S JOB / YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES
An agent’s job is to represent talent and help guide their career. They do this by helping you choose the right headshots, helping craft your resume, getting your electronic breakdowns posted and prepping you for castings, which they then submit for projects that are being produced. Next steps include securing the audition, following up on the call back, finalizing the compensation negotiations for the dancer and the follow through for the rest of that production. In the meantime, they are already preparing you for the next project that will help progress your career. Shelli and Tim both stress that good communication is the biggest factor in having a successful relationship with your agent. It is your responsibility to keep them updated on your availability, the choreographers you have worked with, what your dream jobs are, etc., so they can pitch you for those projects and know that you will be available when they do. Always remember, you are your product, and your product is only as strong as the re-investment you make in it. Your agent is there to sell that product and the better they know your product, the better their rate of success.
Today we’re going to discuss a big topic of concern all actors face. The number one question we hear when actors come in for private acting coaching or to our acting school in Los Angeles is, “What do I wear?!”
The best way to answer this question is by first focusing on what NOT to wear. The casting director doesn’t want to come into a waiting area that looks like a Halloween store exploded! If an 8 to 10 year old girl is called in to audition for the role of a fairy, there’s no need to go full Tinkerbell. Leave the wands and the wings at home, little ladies. What the casting director wants is far simpler and much less expensive than going to a costume shop every time you have an audition.
Here’s what you need to know about audition ensembles: whenever you go into a character specific audition (i.e. fairy, space camp kid, soccer player, etc.) all you need is a HINT of the character. Little fairies wear sparkly shirts; space camp kids have jackets with a spacey looking patch; and soccer players wear jerseys (leave the cleats on the field!). I think you get the picture.
One thing we tell our students in our kids acting classes and acting classes for teens, is that casting directors have already seen your headshots, so they know what you look like even before you step into their office. Don’t distract him or her with complex costumes or over the top outfits.
As for non-character specific auditions, always wear a color that compliments your skin tone, hair shade, and eye color. If you don’t know what colors look good on you, ask a friend, a parent, a sibling. Also, a great way to boost your confidence is to wear a color that makes you feel good! Just make sure to stay away from the following colors: black, white, grey or red. These colors don’t translate well on camera. Black makes everything look dull, white can blow out the camera lighting, no one ever remembers grey and red tends to do funny things to skin tones and camera settings.
Now that you know how to look your best, go out there and break a leg!