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Careers Clinic: Why did a prospective agent ‘ghost’ me?

John Byrne. Photo: Catherine Usher John Byrne. Photo: Catherine Usher
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I have been looking for a new agent and have had a few meetings over the last two weeks that all seemed very positive.

The meeting I felt went best was with a particular agent who, although not the lead in their office, struck me as very hungry and enthusiastic.

That agent also seemed genuinely excited about the prospect of working with me and had a lot of good ideas about how my career could go. It was left that once my round of meetings was over I would follow up with a decision.

I decided to go with this agent, but when I called they weren’t available, so I left a message. No response after a week, so I called again. Still no luck.

I then tried a polite email and a text but still nothing. By this time the other agents’ deadlines had all passed.

You can imagine how frustrated and disappointed I am.

Is there anything I can do to rescue the situation without becoming a stalker?

JOHN BYRNE’S ADVICE I would like to tell you that what you are describing is unusual. Sadly, as an actor who had a very similar experience recently told me, ‘ghosting’ can be just as common in the career arena as it is in the dating game.

One lesson from a first date that can be transferred to business is that no matter how positive an initial discussion feels, it is always best to reserve judgement until you have seen how things play out in the longer term.

I’m fully behind the principle that if an actor takes the time to attend a meeting, be it a casting or with an agent, they deserve at least a clear yes or no in a reasonable period of time so they are not left hanging and potentially missing out on other opportunities. From a casting viewpoint, it is entirely understandable why the volume of applicants may make specific individual feedback impractical, but a simple acknowledgement still shouldn’t be beyond anyone’s capacity.

When it comes to a one-to-one meeting where you both invested time and effort, being left hanging just feels rude. Taking it at face value that the initial meeting was as positive as you say, there are lots of reasons why the goalposts may have changed. Another actor with a similar profile to yours may have said yes sooner, the agent you met may have left the agency or your headshot might have reminded their boss of an ex-partner they can’t stand. It’s a shame nobody has the courtesy to tell you what actually happened, but since you may never know, there isn’t much point dwelling on it.

There will always be times in our careers when we invest a lot of energy and hope in an interaction, but it comes to nothing. On the positive side, the opposite is also true: sometimes an opportunity will arise based on a chance conversation you have forgotten or a good performance you gave when you thought nobody important was watching.

My advice would be to get in contact with the other agents if you feel one of them might be good for you. You don’t need to go into detail, just apologise for responding late and see what they say. Whatever the outcome, don’t let this one disappointment colour your next agent meeting or casting, by making you either too defensive or overly keen to impress.

One definite thing to take away is that if this is how the person you met does business, you wouldn’t want them on your team anyway. Stick to being you, and refocus on finding representation. You will then have a much better chance of connecting with somebody who will be  the right fit.

Contact careers adviser John Byrne at dearjohn@thestage.co.uk or @dearjohnbyrne

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