When it comes to the relationships with my clients, they’re founded on the basis of business. We come together for the purpose of establishing and attaining career goals with obvious financial benefits for both parties. But being a talent manager, I naturally grow close to my select roster of actors. I go on a journey with them overcoming difficult times, managing sticky situations, strategizing career moves, and celebrating successes. I learn about their goals, dreams, fears, and insecurities. I listen to them talk about bad auditions, how all their friends seem to be booking while they’re not, how exciting it was to meet their favorite actor on set, and how surreal seeing themselves on a billboard is. I spend time with them in their trailers, in business meetings, at birthday parties, and industry events. Over the years, it’s hard not to grow attached to a person you learn so much about and spend so much time with.
And my clients care about me, too.
I know they do because they’re good people with big hearts—it’s why I chose to represent them. But that doesn’t mean I’m to be as open and honest with them as they are with me. Definitely not. While they’re free to shine their beautiful, artistic souls onto me, I have to be a lot more careful. If I’m not projecting positivity and confidence, my clients will worry about how this is effecting their career. Yes, if I’m feeling under the weather or a tragedy strikes, they’ll wish me well and send condolences, but this shouldn’t go on for too long.
Before I was into Twitter, an old boss used to monitor my Facebook posts.
I liked writing motivational quotes and tips for all my actors that followed me. But one day, I wrote something about feeling the blues on a rainy day. I felt supported and comfortable with my community of actors and didn’t think anything of it. My boss immediately called me into his office and told me that I needed to take that status down because my clients would worry about how well I was performing at my job. At the moment, I thought he was a jerk that just ‘didn’t get it,’ but now I know that he was probably right. What kind of brilliant businessperson’s strategy includes showing your clients that you’re even slightly sad or going through something personal? And while this may seem obvious to you that I should keep my personal life out of the business, the easily blurred lines and lopsidedness of the actor-manager relationship took me a while to fully understand.
I remember a certain heart-to-heart with an actor.
He was having an exceptionally hard month between fighting with his father (whom I met a few times) and a long slew of callbacks not leading to bookings. I was doing my best to assure him that his talent was real and that it would make an impact on this world. After 2 hours, I let it slip that I also had been feeling down that week. My actor listened to me explain about my ‘thing’ and said some nice words, which were appreciated. The next day though, he sent a text saying that we really needed to keep the positivity ‘up’ because it was what he needed. Meaning, Don’t freaking tell me about your woes again. It absolutely made me feel stupid for mentioning anything about myself. But, of course. Most actors are already dealing with so many thoughts, why would I pile anything more on top of that? Nobody goes to see their therapist to hear about the therapist’s issues. After that, I learned my lesson.
And in case this is sounding like I’m bitter, I’m not. I understand how and why this is and I’m okay with this part of my job. I fully accept my role. Finally.
So how am I feeling today?
Brilliant! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I’m ready to be the best damn manager I can possibly be.