I think the number one most important piece of advice in this business is to just be professional. You need to respond to people on time, do your homework and prepare, show up on time, and exit promptly. You can build a relationship and still be polite, which is exactly what you’re going to do with your managers and agents. You have to like each other or it’s simply not going to work, but you also have to remember that they are working for you and you’re both working together to push forward.
So. When do you say goodbye? And how?
It’s not easy! It’s really not — leaving your rep is like breaking up with someone; you have to really dig deep and figure out what the problem is, if it’s fixable, and what you’re willing to do to adjust for it. Ultimately, it’s time to start shopping around and making your farewells when:
– You guys don’t agree on how you’re pitched. Now. Now, now. You should’ve come to agreement at the initial meeting, but perhaps things have changed. Look carefully though: sometimes we think we’re younger/hotter/more amazing than casting does!
– You aren’t getting out. Yes, it’s your job. Yes, it’s their job. At some point, however, you have to consider whether you’re getting the best bang for your buck; maybe there’s someone else out there who can pitch you more often or harder.
– You see your type on his or her roster. I’m a redhead. In this industry, THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE. So if you see someone exactly your time, competing exactly for the same roles (moreso with your manager, which is more intimate), it may be time to go.
– You have the feels. At the end of the day, I can’t tell you for sure when to bolt in the night (don’t bolt in the night). You know it. You’ll just KNOW it. You’ll feel rotten and frown-y and wonder where you went awry.
So what happens next? After you make sure you’re not in breach of contract…
You either call and make an appointment to chat or you sit down and write a (well-proofread) farewell e-mail. I suggest chatting on the phone and sending the document by certified mail, so you have a paper trail. It should be short, sweet, thankful, and kind.
I have loved working with you and COMPANY so much for the past few years/days/minutes, but after giving it a lot of thought, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t think I’m the best fit for COMPANY. I know how hard you’ve worked and I appreciate that effort more than I can express — I am sure you will give your other clients the same incredible diligence you gave me.
…Or something to that effect. And if they dump YOU? Cry. Do it. Cry for a hot second then sit down and write them a thank-you letter for all the work they did while you were there. THEN have an actor panic attack and start submitting. (No, don’t do that.)
Bottom line, though: don’t flip a table, just keep it nice and cool and you’ll land on your feet.