Begin Again: I Got an Agent
Did you know that Jeopardy’s most famous contestant, Ken Jennings, was dethroned after 74 consecutive wins by a realtor from California named Nancy Zerg? When asked how she was able to do it, she said she psyched herself up for the game by repeating, “Someone’s got to beat him sometime, it might as well be me.” A friend told me that anecdote years ago, and the words have become my mantra as I pursue goals that feel, to me, as daunting as toppling a gameshow superstar.
“Somebody is going to land an agent, book that job, and live their dream—it might as well be me!”
Well guess what? It finally was me! (Well, at least when it comes to the first step of the process.) After a lot of hard work and the support of many wonderful people, I have officially signed with LDC Artist Representation. Getting an agent has been even more joyful and validating than I even anticipated—I’m thrilled! Lucille DiCampli (who by the way is fabulous and kind) will likely feature heavily in my column going forward.
But for today, I want to talk about my journey to this milestone. I hope my experience can be helpful for those who are also seeking representation in this crazy post-pandemic world. We need to stick together!
Landing An Agent
As you likely already know, agents are super important for a professional performance career. They are well connected within the industry and can get you into doors you likely couldn’t open on your own. Knowing this, I set up a meeting with talent consultant Leesa Csolak. Her company, Launch Talent, offers online courses to dancers like me who need direction as they begin their careers. Working with her was fantastic! She seems to be an endless vault of industry knowledge, and I’m so grateful to have her on my team.
Step 1: Gathering My Assets
The first thing Csolak told me in our meeting (excerpts of which you can find in Dance Magazine’s latest YouTube video), is that dancers need to create stellar audition materials before contacting agencies. From headshots to dance/acting/vocal reels to resumes, you need to have everything squared away. I’ve covered the topics of headshots and reels in previous columns. Csolak had me send a copy of a resume I’d used previously and helped me restructure the layout to fit industry standards. She then let me know which details she thought would be relevant to potential agents and which to leave out. Her perspective was so helpful! If you have a connection within the industry who is well versed in resumes, I highly recommend passing yours along to get feedback. None of us can do this alone!
Step 2: Researching Agencies
Next, I took the time to research agencies I might be interested in working with. There were four or five that had been on my radar since I was a young dancer, but I knew there were more out there that could also be a good fit. Csolak recommended I go to the Drama Book Shop in midtown Manhattan where an up-to-date list of NYC casting directors, advertising agencies, and production companies could be procured. I picked up said list (I highly recommend checking out the shop, it was amazing!), and highlighted the agencies I thought might be a good fit for my goals. Then, I checked out their websites and social media sites to do a deeper dive.
Step 3: Attending Mock Auditions
Once my audition materials were polished and I had a solid list of agencies I was interested in, I attended mock auditions, hosted at Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center, for agencies like Bloc Agency, Clear Talent Group, and MSA Agency. At these events I, along with a host of other dancers, learned combinations from choreographers associated with the agencies before auditioning the choreography for the agents themselves. (In one, we even got to sing 16 bars for them!) Unlike a regular audition, we were given feedback on our performance in real-time. Happily, I got positive feedback from each agency. I left each experience feeling proud, yet unsure of how to turn that positive feedback into a real-life contract. All of the mock auditions finished with a Q&A, and each time the dancers were told that it’s a difficult time for the industry right now, and that most agencies are prioritizing talent who have been on their roster since before Covid. On top of that, there is much less work now than there was before the world shut down, so it’s harder for performers to land agents generally. It was disheartening to hear, but I was undeterred. I believed in myself, and had confidence that the right opportunity would be there for me, at the right time.
Step 3: Going to Cattle Calls
I suppose this headline is a bit misleading. I submitted one single self-tape for one single agency call. I was told that hundreds of others also applied, and truthfully, I’m not entirely sure my video was even watched. I was rejected via email with a response that mentioned something about their roster needing a specific type of artist. Fair enough.
Step 4: Website Submissions and Cold Calling (or rather, emailing)
Next, I checked out the websites of the various agencies I was interested in and read their submission policies. For those that required me to fill out an online form to apply, I carefully followed instructions (and also understood that I would probably never hear from them again). For those who allowed direct contact through email, I sent a brief message that included my interest in their agency, my headshot/dance shots, resume and reels. I also had a couple of friends who offered to connect me with their agents via email, vouching for my talent and work ethic.
In a vote of confidence, Lucille DiCampli responded to my email almost immediately. They let me know they were interested in me, but weren’t quite in a position to audition new talent due to Covid restrictions. They recommended I follow up later.
So, I waited.
Until six months went by, and I once again resubmitted my assets to a range of agencies.
Step 5: Landing A Meeting!
On a beautiful day in June 2022, I sat on my couch writing a story for Dance Magazine when an email from Lucille DiCampli came through on my phone. I snatched it off the couch, opened the email, and squealed so loud my dog jumped up in a panic. They wanted me to come in for an in-person meeting later in the summer!
I immediately called Leesa to see what this meant. “Agents are busy people, they wouldn’t set up a meeting with you if they weren’t very interested,” she said. “This meeting will likely be to see if you are a fit personality-wise. Be yourself, keep things positive and confident, and everything should be great.”
Next, I reached out to my friend Tilly Evans-Krueger, who is signed by Lucille and currently a swing in Moulin Rouge on Broadway. She gave me a rave review of the agency: they are quick to respond to emails and nearly always come through for her if there’s an audition she wants to attend. She also said Lucille is well connected and, because it’s such a small agency, she never gets lost in the crowd. As far as what I needed to do to prepare, she confirmed Csolak’s suspicions. “In my experience, this meeting is Lucille’s chance to tell you about herself, and what her agency can do for you,” she said. “Congratulations! Enjoy it!”
Step 6: The Room Where it Happens
My meeting with Lucille went wonderfully. She welcomed me with warm arms. She was enthusiastic, kind and generous. She told me about her 30 years in the industry, how they have handled Covid (they didn’t close down at any point), and she shared her honest yet hopeful perspective on the industry as it slowly recovers from the pandemic. Then, she asked me about my goals for my professional career before finally saying, “The bottom line is, we want to work with you. We will send over a contract by Monday.”
My heart swelled with joy. After all those years struggling with a chronic health condition, I wasn’t certain I would get to dance again, let alone sign with an agency in the greatest city in the world. It was validating, and rewarding in every way. I can’t wait to see what this partnership brings.
Step 7: Living Happily Ever After
I’m just kidding, I know this is where the real work begins. But by golly I believe in celebrating the wins along the way. I know what it’s like for my dreams to come down mid-flight, so I’m going to live it up! Thank you for cheering me on and for believing in me up to this point. Head on over to Dance Magazine’s YouTube channel to get a closer look at the process!
See you next time!