What happens when your agent leaves your agency?

March 28, 2010

You have worked long and hard to get into an agency and surround yourself with a solid team to represent you and your career interests. You may even have a personal relationship with your agent, invited them into your life and consider them to be part of your extended family. So what do you do when that person is no longer at the agency that represents you?

I’ve been represented by three dance agencies in L.A. (DDO Artists Agency from 2002–2003, MSA from 2005–2008 and Clear Talent Group from 2008–present). Being selected by Bill Bohl at my first big audition for DDO was great. I then went to audition for the NBA’s Los Angeles Laker Girls one week later. Being a Laker Girl took up most of my time the year I was with DDO. So even though I loved the agents and the agency, I didn’t get a full experience with them as I was working constantly for the Lakers. Trust me, I’m not complaining. When I moved back to L.A. in 2005 to compete on “So You Think You Can Dance,” I auditioned and was selected by MSA. Working with agents Lisa Coppola, Terry Lindholm and JC Gutierrez, along with interaction with staff and choreography agents Julie McDonald and Tony Selznick, was an amazing experience. I felt like they were part of my family. In a career shift, I signed with Clear Talent Group to be represented across the board for Commercial, Theatrical and Dance in 2008. Working with Pete Engle and the staff at CTG had a great impact on my vision for my career and my future.

At no time has anyone that I originally signed with left the agency. But in a recent communication, I was told that one of my favorite agents had left the agency and was now working for a different agency. Less than one day ago, I was sent an e-mail from another agent I know who was planning to part ways with their agency as well. In my response, I was glad that they were following their hearts to move on to other areas of entertainment, but I felt so bad for all of those people who would hear the news and ask, “Now, what do I do?”

As a performer, having your agent leave impacts your career either positively or negatively. You may not have the rapport with the remaining agents that you had with the agent who signed you. It may become a relationship building time as your agency looks for a replacement. You may also feel like you are being lost in the shuffle. To this I say, stand strong! Be confident in your talent because agencies will notice who is booking jobs and it is their job to identify your strengths and weaknesses. They are businesses and want to make money too. If you are an asset to them, they will make sure to reach out to you and ease the transition. In some cases many clients have followed their agents to their new place of employment because of the relationship they’ve built over time. In other cases, agents do not pursue positions in the same field.

I caution dancers who have a great thing going at one agency who may want to walk away if and when their favorite agent leaves. Weigh your options with other agencies. If you are the most booked female Asian break-dancer at one agency, you may leave to go to another agency and not be at the top any longer. You may also continue to have the support of the agent for whom you are following, so it is a toss up either way. This situation is very difficult so be careful and always work on all of your relationships with agency staff.