How to Talk About Your Ex (Agent)

So imagine that you are at a meeting with a brand new prospective agent or manager, and then they ask you, “So, why did you leave your last agent?”

How do you answer this question? My advice for you is that you don’t.

Now, I don’t mean make up a story or be cryptic. I just mean that the details of why you left your representation are no one’s business but your own. And I don’t want you looking like someone who gossips, someone who complains, or someone who places blame.

So what do you say instead?

Watch this week’s Acting Business Bite and I’ll teach you how to keep it cool, keep it professional and keep private details private while still cultivating a relationship with new potential representation.

Do you have a way that you answer this question that’s really worked well for you? If so, I want to hear about it. Please share your experiences in the comments below.


16 Responses to “How to Talk About Your Ex (Agent)”

  1. Melanie says:

    Great advice, as always, Dallas! This has brought up another question for me, and maybe this has been discussed before. Is it necessary/expected that you actually leave/fire the previous agent before finding a new one? Do you need to be in agent limbo while seeking new representation? Most people look for a new job before giving notice at their old job – although, of course, you do run the risk of it getting back to your current company/agent. And if the relationship is really bad or you’re not being sent out at all, I suppose ending that relationship won’t leave you in a worse position than you’re in already. But it seems to me that many people make sure they have another agent lined up before leaving the first.

  2. Maggie says:

    Dallas, you are PSYCHIC! So relevant is my life right now. In many ways. Thank you for your boundless generosity, insight, and empathy. Brilliant woman! Here’s to all of YOUR dreams coming true, as well.

  3. Maggie says:

    Hahaha! “So relevant IN my life right now.” I think I tapped into the Yoda keyboard there for a moment in that first reply. LOL

  4. Larry G says:

    When asked that question – it is THE perfect opportunity to address
    your vision of the roles you should/could be auditioning for. Start by saying you had “creative” differences as to how you see yourself in
    the market place, then expand on your vision. If the agent you are interviewing agrees with your vision, you are on the same page and a likely partnership would be worth pursuing.

  5. Lauren says:

    I was working with an agent for a year contract when I realized that this agency really didn’t have the connections or pull that they said they did. I was also very new at the time to the industry and was just excited that someone wanted to sign me. I did book some work through them that was legit and wonderful but as I’m meeting new agents now I realize that NO one knows this agency and those who do kind of turn up their nose. I do want prospective agents to see my as somebody who has had an agent/client relationship before, but I don’t really like the idea of being associated with this particular agency. Advice?

  6. Mark says:

    Dallas, I usually agree with your fantastic tips, but not this time. Almost every new employer/business associate will ask that question at some point in an interview and it’s a test. If you say, as you suggest, something like “I don’t want to gossip”, you are setting yourself up for a potentially awkward situation because you could imply that the interviewer is actually looking for ‘gossip’. Furthermore, saying things like “It just didn’t work out” could appear evasive or even defensive. I would steer away from those types of comments, as they could easily infer that the last relationship was unhealthy and/or had bad blood. The interviewer is looking to see if you will avoid the question, when actually she wants an honest response. How you interact with the interviewer will also indicate how professionally you will communicate with one of her valued clients.

    I believe you should just politely state that you enjoyed a good relationship with your last/present agent and that the situation was perfect for that stage in your career. I think you’d find most interviewers would move on after a comment like that (and it also suggests that you would never speak badly of them either).

    • Mark, I really like your feedback, here. My intention was to help actors NOT appear evasive and I think you’re right… I could be more clear. So, thanks again for your take – In particular the way your recommend answering this question.

      Thanks for posting!

      • Mark says:

        No worries, Dallas. Your insights are invaluable. I think you’ve done more to help actors adopt the necessary practical business tools to navigate a notoriously tough profession than any other consultant/trainer in the market. Keep up the good work.

  7. Joe Thornton, Jr says:

    Hi Dallas,
    What you said is EXACTLY my response to the question. I even used the term ” I decided to go in a Different Direction”. I used the same responses when I refer Actors to my ex-Agent/Manager because I feel they could benefit from their representation. That way, everyone is happy and it’s much more professional because not every agent/manager is for everyone.

    Good topic as usual!


  8. Jaron says:

    perfect timing for this blog post!

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