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Agent criticised for asking actors to donate money in exchange for potential representation

More than 550 readers voted in The Stage poll on casting. Photo: Sean De Burca/Shutterstock Photo: Sean De Burca/Shutterstock
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An agent has been accused of “exploiting” actors after suggesting performers would be considered for representation if they donated to a personal project.

Elaine Eaglestone, who runs film, TV and theatre casting agency Eaglestone Management, said she was trying to raise money for a short film she is producing.

In a Facebook post, which has now been deleted, she asked actors for a £10 donation and a link to their Spotlight page, saying that it would not guarantee a place on her books but “it gets you in front of me to show me what you got”. She conceded that some would see it as a “bribe”.

In the post, which began “Books are open for donations only currently”, Eaglestone wrote: “I’ve donated to many crowdfunding campaigns for films to help indie filmmakers, and I’m offering actors a chance to do the same but also be seen by myself for possible representation.”

The post, which was shared widely on social media, continued: “I don’t open the books very often, as I don’t have the need to. I’m sure I will even fill the spaces I have left with those who take the opportunity. Some will see it as a bribe, some will see the opportunity they have in front of them, that will depend on the type of person you are.”

Actor and former chair of the Actors Centre Paul Clayton argued that asking people to make donations to be considered for representation was “pure exploitation”.

He told The Stage: “Many young actors think that an agent is the answer to their success, so exploitation such as this is quite simply inexcusable.”

Equity’s president Maureen Beattie added on Twitter: “So, I was just thinking that if an agent posted a suggestion that actors make a financial donation FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER to be in with a chance to be represented by them, all you deeply savvy folk out there would know not to touch it with a very long stick, wouldn’t you?”

Eagleton has since told The Stage that her agency’s books are open to everyone, rather than just those who donate to the film, and that the post was “completely taken out of context” as part of a “hate/slander campaign”. She said she had contacted the police about the matter.

She added: “Yes, I am producing a short film and have asked people to donate to the film, of which all of the money is going to the production company to pay for the film.

“My books have just been opened for the first time this year. I did say if people would like to donate to the film I would consider their representation, as I would any other client.

“I do not wish to comment any further at this stage.”

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