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Acting Agent Reddit AMA

“You can’t compare yourself to your friends as every actor is different. Every role is different. With that being said, you need to brand yourself.”

Reddit “Ask Me Anything” threads can be a fountain of information (or craziness, depending on the subject). Earlier this week, a “former Hollywood agent” took the opportunity to participate in one and gave frank answers to questions from aspiring actors. Below are some of the highlights.

When one commentator mentioned he hadn’t been booking as many roles as his friends who are also actors, the former agent pointed out that measuring yourself against your peers isn’t always an effective way to judge oneself:

You can’t compare yourself to your friends as every actor is different. Every role is different. With that being said, you need to brand yourself. There is only so much your manager/agent can do for you. What is your IMDB rank? I had a client that was in the same situation as you, I started doing publicity for her and getting name in the news, that increased her ranking by about 500 points in just a day. She began booking right after because IMDB showed her as on the rise. That is not all there is to it but make yourself available on social media, interviews, red carpet events any and every opportunity to get your name spread by other people will increase your chances of getting casted for a major role.

The former agent also pointed out what actors should be doing beyond putting together a strong reel, including why face time with agents at workshops is so important:

Having a great reel is not enough. Agents have to submit you to casting agents and most of them do not want reel footage. Having a co-star/under 5 credit would open more doors for you and get you in the door to see a smaller agent. I liked meeting people at workshops. 1. It game me the chance to meet people in person. 2. I got the chance to see your face and movements in person. 3. It gave me the chance to check to see if you would present any “problems” in the future. The biggest thing that will get you banned in Hollywood the fastest is having an attitude. Hollywood is a very small place. If you have been here you will find that you meet people from other shoots, workshops, etc all the time. It is the same for agents, most of us have done business together. So having an attitude will get you to a place where no one wants to work with you. Headshots get thrown in the trash more often then not unless it is just amazing. I used to get hundreds every week. I would suggest go to casting workshops, join reputable acting school and get in their showcase, and when you do meet an agent you want to represent you, be very humble cause you are a dime a dozen. If we don’t like you, we won’t represent you. We are after people who will make us money, troublemakers don’t make money, they get kicked off sets and give our agency a bad reputation. My number 1 bit of advice is be nice to everyone!!! I once booked a client for a music video for a major pop star but on a different set she was rude to the girl she felt was just “make-up.” The girl turned out to to be the cousin of the pop star. Guess who got fired. You never know who is related to who. Send me a message if you want more advice.

One commentator who has no acting experience but is interested in becoming an actor asked the former agent what he/she should do once getting an offer of representation. The former agent instead gave him a list of what he needs to accomplish before that even happens:

You will def need to take classes, get headshots, and start out in smaller roles just so you can get some credits on the back of that headshot picture. The worst thing you can do it start submitting to roles with a blank resume.

Following up on that, the former agent pointed out that the most important thing for an actor to do is to gain experience to put on a resume:

If you have SAG-AFTRA eligibility, you are golden. With that even if you only have a few credits, we can start to submit you for higher paying but smaller roles to build your credits. If you are not don’t have eligibility, then you need to have at least enough information to fill up the majority of the back of your headshot. Meaning enough credits, classes, and talents to fill in that information. We could get an amazing headshot but turn it over and the back is blank, then we don’t see any dollars signs if you couldn’t even get a web series. And your demo reel better be filled with actual footage of you acting not just of you filming yourself in a scene. That does nothing for us, and casting agents don’t like it because often times it isn’t well filmed. So there really isn’t a right answer as to when to get an agent but for me, i didn’t sign clients unless they had good headshots, a decent resume, and actual footage.

Later, the former agent when more in-depth on the importance of having the proper type of credits on one’s resume:

Stage acting and film acting are two very different animals. If I get a resume from two different people who are exactly the same in every way except one has only student film credits and the other has small roles in plays, I’m more likely to bring in the student [with]film credit because at least they have been in front of a camera. The type of acting required for film is also different from stage acting. The two are not the same and are not looked at as the same.

More specifically, the actor should focus on gaining experience in the type of acting he or she wants to pursue:

Training depends on what kind of actor you are trying to be. If you are going for comedy, we want to see showcases, comedy shows, UCB classes, or classes for any legit comedy collective/school as comedy is all about timing. For all others, that is great if you went to Julliard/Yale but those school tend to classically train students and proper training can sometimes be too proper. I had two clients that went to Julliard. One was amazing but we still had to send her to local classes in order to get her to loosen up a little. Film acting is different from classical training and it can be hard for students to make the adjustment. If you look around, you will find classes from local studios that offer workshops, showcases, etc. Most of them get a reputation for being good or bad. Attend classes at the good ones. If you don’t have credits, we want to see where you attend those classes and at least an effort to get acting roles on your own. Meaning, web series, student films, indie films, etc. Those don’t offer pay, but will get you great footage that can be used to get casting agents to look and see what you can do. So short answer, if you don’t have credits footage is the next best thing. Where you take classes doesn’t really matter as long as you are taking them.

The former agent was a bit more vague on what makes a good headshot, but did share some key advice:

Headshots are tricky. We are looking for something that pops out. I know that isn’t the best answer but its the only one I can give. There is no right answer. If you are wearing too much make-up it is a turn off as we don’t know what your natural face looks like. The background shouldn’t make you blend into it or over shadow you. Profile pics are usually not good as we are looking to see your face. Your face should be unobstructed and the best advice I can give you is don’t get super creative on the pose. Go with what has worked. When we submit your headshot to a casting agent, they get a very little thumbnail of your image and thousands of others. The people who get called in for the auditions are the ones who had headshots that made them stand out from the rest. A good headshot makes you “pop” not blend. If you have headshots, send me a pic and I’ll let you know. Also, the best headshots are not always the most expensive. We used to send people to this photographer that only changed $75 bucks. Soon after getting them, they always booked. She was amazing at getting the best “look.” The other thing is that when you take a headshot, know what your type cast is. The object is to get your foot in the door and get work, so dress and look the part you would most likely get cast for. If a casting agent can see you as that character, then they will cast you as such.

Also, the former agent touched upon what many young actors are doing today — creating their own content:

If you are going into comedy, I want to see a great comedy sketch that is going to make me laugh. If you are going a different way, a web series that gets a lot of views is marketable to me. Where I used to work, if we got a comedian that came in and hit all his comedic beats, did a scene in different way and made us laugh, they were in. We have taken people just by youtube videos they submitted because they were just so good. If we laughed, chances are casting directors will too. On the other hand, dramatic actors can’t always do sitcom work well so it took a little bit more to empress through a dramatic youtube video. I would suggest creating something that is a little bit of both. Every agency is different so that’s the best advice I can give.

The question of whether or not actors should submit themselves for roles in which they don’t fit the gender or racial requirements for the part. The former agent answered:

Unless you are a name actor, you should never submit yourself to a role that doesn’t match your gender or race. If you have an agent, ask them for a submission report. We all have one. It will give you a list of what roles they submitted you for. The problem may be that they are not submitting you for the right roles not that they aren’t any that you are right for. It used to be that there were not roles for black females but that tide is changing on that. Pilot season is starting soon and I happen to know there are many roles available and not all of them are looking for name actors to fill them. Get a submission report, talk to your agent about your “type” cast, and then get headshots and footage that match the upcoming roles that you might be right for. Another thing is to make sure you know which roles are upcoming and available so that you can make sure your agent is submitting you for them. Send me a message if you want more personal advice. I would love to help.

Again, the former agent kept stressing how important gaining experience is before landing an agent:

If you are really good, you may get an agent but most likely you are going to need to get credits first. I would suggest attending a non-school based acting school. They often have “showcases” that agents come to in order to pick up fresh talent. I signed a few clients from those. Otherwise, make sure you sign up for the gig sights and submit yourself for smaller roles in order to get some credits. Casting workshops are also great places to meet people and network. Also, consider doing a webseries. Most of the time, those don’t pay very well but if you find the right now, you can get SAG elg. out of it. The most important thing is to make sure you have the right headshot. Even though it might look good to you, I used to get hundreds in the mail every week. We do not read the resumes until the picture jumps out at us first. If you have a bad headshot, you will get nowhere. Have a professional look it over before you miss out on something that could have been great for you.

Lastly, the former agent pointed out that acting is a field that is open to all types of people:

I think anyone can be an actor. Every type is always needed in the entertainment industry. Some type may get more work than other but that doesn’t mean that looks will keep you from making a lucrative career. When I’m looking through headshots, the first thing I notice is looks but not “beauty”. I’m looking to see if you look different from everyone else. What makes you stand out. Whatever that feature is, that is what should be featured in your headshot and that is what will make agents and casting directors take notice. I had one client that booked many many roles simply because she wasn’t classically pretty.



Reddit, Acting Against Hate Speech, Bans ‘The_Donald’ Subreddit

The influential pro-Trump community broke the rules on harassment and targeting, said Reddit, which also banned other groups.

SAN FRANCISCO — Reddit, one of the largest social networking and message board websites, on Monday banned its biggest community devoted to President Trump as part of an overhaul of its hate speech policies.

The community or “subreddit,” called “The_Donald,” is home to more than 790,000 users who post memes, viral videos and supportive messages about Mr. Trump. Reddit executives said the group, which has been highly influential in cultivating and stoking Mr. Trump’s online base, had consistently broken its rules by allowing people to target and harass others with hate speech.

“Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people,” Steve Huffman, the company’s chief executive, said in a call with reporters. “‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that.”

Reddit said it was also banning roughly 2,000 other communities from across the political spectrum, including one devoted to the leftist podcasting group “Chapo Trap House,” which has about 160,000 regular users. The vast majority of the forums that are being banned are inactive.

“The_Donald,” which has been a digital foundation for Mr. Trump’s supporters, is by far the most active and prominent community that Reddit decided to act against. For years, many of the most viral Trump memes that broke through to Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere could be traced back to “The_Donald.” One video, “The Trump Effect,” originated on “The_Donald” in mid-2016 before bubbling up to Mr. Trump, who tweeted it to his 83 million followers.

Social media sites are facing a reckoning over the types of content they host and their responsibilities to moderate and police that content. While Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit and others originally positioned themselves as neutral sites that simply hosted people’s posts and videos, users are now pushing them to take steps against hateful, abusive and false speech on their platforms.

Some of the sites have recently become more proactive in dealing with these issues. Twitter started adding labels last month to some of Mr. Trump’s tweets to refute their accuracy or call them out for glorifying violence. Snap also said it would stop promoting Mr. Trump’s Snapchat account after determining that his public comments off the site could incite violence.

On Monday, the streaming website Twitch suspended Mr. Trump’s account for violating its policies against hateful conduct. Mr. Trump’s channel had rebroadcast one of his campaign rallies from 2015, in which he denigrated Mexicans and immigrants, among other streams. Twitch removed the videos from the president’s account.

YouTube also said on Monday that it was barring six channels for violating its policies. They included those of two prominent white supremacists, David Duke and Richard Spencer, and American Renaissance, a white supremacist publication. Stefan Molyneux, a podcaster and internet commentator who had amassed a large audience on YouTube for his videos about philosophy and far-right politics, was also kicked off the site.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has said it refuses to be an arbiter of content. The company said it would allow all speech from political leaders to remain on its platform, even if the posts were untruthful or problematic, because such content was newsworthy and in the public’s interest to read.

Facebook has since come under increasing fire for its stance. Over the past few weeks, many large advertisers, including Coca-Cola, Verizon, Levi Strauss and Unilever, have said they plan to pause advertising on the social network because they were unhappy with its handling of hate speech and misinformation.

Andrea Hickerson, associate dean of the College of Information and Communications at the University of South Carolina, said the growing actions by social media companies would help cut down “on the noise and unwarranted confusion around the truth.”

“There is a lot of popular rhetoric about ‘the media’s’ negative impact on civil discourse, but now social media companies are acknowledging that some of its own users are the problem,” she said.

Reddit, which was founded 15 years ago and has more than 430 million regular users, has long been one corner of the internet that was willing to host all kinds of communities. No subject — whether it was video games or makeup or power-washing driveways — was too small to discuss. People could simply sign up, browse the site anonymously and participate in any of the 130,000 active subreddits.

Yet that freewheeling position led to many issues of toxic speech and objectionable content across the site, for which Reddit has consistently faced criticism. In the past, the company hosted forums that promoted racism against black people and openly sexualized underage children, all in the name of free speech.

That has haltingly changed over time. In 2015, Reddit introduced anti-harassment policies. Later that year, it banned several subreddits that targeted black or obese people. In 2016, it rolled out additional anti-harassment measures and tools. It also took down forums dedicated to openly buying and selling drugs.

But the company’s executives have struggled in particular with how to handle “The_Donald” and its noxious content. Reddit said people in “The_Donald” consistently posted racist and vulgar messages that incited harassment and targeted people of different religious and ethnic groups on and off its site.

“The_Donald” has also heavily trafficked in conspiracy theories, including spreading the debunked “PizzaGate” conspiracy, in which Hillary Clinton and top Democrats were falsely accused of running a child sex-trafficking ring from a pizza parlor in Washington.

Reddit said that as of Monday, it was introducing eight rules that laid out the terms that users must abide. Those include prohibiting targeted harassment, revealing the identities of others, posting sexually exploitative content related to underage children, or trafficking in illegal substances or other illicit transactions.

While the site had already banned many of these behaviors, the latest changes take a harder line on speech that “promotes hate based on identity or vulnerability.”

Mr. Huffman said users on “The_Donald” had frequently violated its first updated rule: “Remember the human.” He said he and others at Reddit repeatedly tried to reason with moderators of “The_Donald,” who run the subreddit on a volunteer basis, to no avail. Banning the forum was a last-ditch effort to contain harassment, he said.

“We’ve given them many opportunities to be successful,” Mr. Huffman said. “The message is clear that they have no intention of working with us.”

Many Republican lawmakers have accused social media companies of censoring conservative viewpoints on their sites. Mr. Huffman said banning “The_Donald” was not an attempt to specifically target conservatives.

“Absolutely not, full stop,” he said.

In a statement on Monday, Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, did not address Reddit’s move but directed people to Mr. Trump’s app or to text the campaign directly.

The new bans follow the resignation this month of Alexis Ohanian, one of Reddit’s co-founders, from the company’s board of directors. Mr. Ohanian, who said he had been moved by the protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis who was killed in police custody last month, asked to be replaced on Reddit’s board with a black candidate.

“I’m writing this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: ‘What did you do?’” Mr. Ohanian, who is married to the tennis star Serena Williams, said in a blog post at the time. “To everyone fighting to fix our broken nation: Do not stop.”

Michael Seibel, the chief executive of the Silicon Valley start-up incubator Y Combinator and an African-American, has replaced Mr. Ohanian on Reddit’s board.

Reddit executives said the site remained a place that they hoped could be a forum for civil political discourse in the future, as long as users played by its rules.

“There’s a home on Reddit for conservatives, there’s a home on Reddit for liberals,” said Benjamin Lee, Reddit’s general counsel. “There’s a home on Reddit for Donald Trump.”

Kevin Roose contributed reporting.

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SEC Acting Chair Unpacks The GameStop, Reddit, Robinhood, Wall Street Debacle


The stratospheric gains in shares of GameStop have turned our understanding of what's possible in the stock market upside down and inside out. This appears to be led from the ground-up communities on Reddit and by the use of apps like Robinhood. And while investors try to unpack what happened, so will the U.S. government. That effort will be led by the Securities and Exchange Commission. And the acting SEC chair is Allison Herren Lee, who joins us now.


ALLISON HERREN LEE: Thank you, Ailsa. It's a pleasure to be here.

CHANG: Pleasure to have you. So do you think what's happened this past week was a market failure or overall kind of a good thing in some ways?

HERREN LEE: Well, let me just start with our markets are the best and the strongest in the world. So, you know, in general, getting more information into the markets is a good thing and something that we all strive for. Now, this idea that, potentially, valuations are being disconnected from stock prices - that's not a good thing. And that's something that - I think you're going to see it change. You're going to see it come back to fundamental valuations. And we - our focus is on making sure that we protect investors when that happens.

CHANG: OK. Well, on that point, the SEC has said that it is looking to identify potential wrongdoing in the recent run-up in stocks such as GameStop. Tell me; what have you found so far?

HERREN LEE: I could tell you the angles. We're looking at this from a number of different angles, and they're very significant. So in the first place, of course, we need to look closely at the conduct of certain - of the broker-dealers, those financial intermediaries through which retail investors access the markets. We need to make sure that the decisions that they make when they look to restrict or limit trading are compliant with regulations, that they're transparent to their customers and that they're consistently and fairly applied. So that is sort of job one that we are working on.

Secondly, with respect to potential manipulation in the markets, that's another area where - this is our bread and butter at the SEC. We know how to do this. Now, this one has a little bit of a different spin to it. It's going to be a little bit more challenging because of the nature of it, but our enforcement division will rise to that challenge. And they are working, you know, around the clock right now to figure that out.

And then let me just mention one third area that we're looking at very closely, and that is these issuers. Now, for the most part, there's no new information in the market from these issuers. But we are going to make sure as we - you know, as we look to what they're doing, whether or not they are trying to raise money in the middle of this. And if so, can they adequately disclose the risks associated with that? And are insiders in these companies trading? So we're looking at this from a number of different angles...

CHANG: Yeah.

HERREN LEE: ...All focused on investor protection.

CHANG: Well, on the point of market manipulation, I am curious how you feel in general about short selling. This is when you bet against a company the way hedge funds did with GameStop. How concerned is the SEC about this kind of activity, about shorting stocks?

HERREN LEE: So that's a complicated area. I mean, we all know that shorting can serve some very important purposes in terms of hedging and, you know, even just taking a view on the value of a company. But it can also jeopardize market integrity. So we are examining what role that may have played in the recent events, and we're looking at all the implications there. For example, how well are the existing regulations and transparency requirements being enforced? And do we have sufficient data on short positions that are held by significant market participants? And do we have sufficient guardrails around those to address market risks that we may identify?

CHANG: Now, I have to ask you - the SEC was formed at the height of the Great Depression to protect investors, but obviously, a lot has changed since the 1930s. How well do you think SEC rules reflect this new reality we live in today with social media and trading apps like Robinhood?

HERREN LEE: Well, you know, the more things change, the more they stay the same, Ailsa. I will say that I have watched the tried and true principles upon which the SEC is founded - I have watched them work well for decades. We adapt. We understand how to adapt. We have an extremely expert staff who has seen decades of different types of misconduct taking different forms, but they fit into some pretty predictable buckets. So, you know, I think we have the tools, and we are using them.

CHANG: And just in the minute or so we have left, how concerned is the SEC that all of this upheaval could bring down the broader market somehow, where millions of people have their retirement savings?

HERREN LEE: We have seen nothing to indicate that that might - that - you know, these are a few different names. We're looking closely at those names. I haven't seen anything that suggests that it would bring down the market. I will say, though, that, of course, we have to be focused on anything - when we see stock prices depart so widely from fundamental valuations, we know there is a chance that people are going to get hurt, if not almost a certainty. So we want people to know that there are risks involved here. We want to educate them on those risks. And we don't want people to be making decisions - investment decisions based solely...

CHANG: Right.

HERREN LEE: ...On what they see on social media.

CHANG: Acting chair of the SEC Allison Herren Lee, thank you very much for your time today.

HERREN LEE: Thank you, Ailsa. It's a pleasure.


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