Actors – I Just Booked My Breakout Role! Now what?

Success in Acting
Finally! After what seems like forever, (probably because it WAS forever), you land the juicy job that gets you noticed. Welcome to the land of frenzy, Actors!
Your life is about to change with this breakout role. Instead of working 14-18 hour days a couple times a week, you’ll be working those hours three to six days a week.
This leaves you zero time to do much of anything else. Clean the apartment? Ha! Go out with friends? Double ha!
It’s time to put your team together.
Time is the keyword here. With a breakout role, you only have a small window to market yourself and line up your next job. You must do this while you’re “hot” because there’s always someone waiting in the sidelines that looks and acts just like you.
So what now?
LILLIAN LaSALLE of Sweet 180 Management in New York tells us what to do next.
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Some of Lillian’s clients are soap star Alicia Minshew, Joey Slotnick from upcoming film The Goldfinch, Victoria Cartagena of Jessica Jones and the upcoming A&E crime drama You, as well as

Aasif Mandvi formerly of The Daily Show, Amir Arison and Hisham Tawfiq of The Blacklist and Michael Nathanson, Marvel’s The Punisher.
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Why, when and how did you get into the entertainment management business?
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My father was an entrepreneur and I was always interested in the Arts. I attended the High School of Performing Arts as a theater major then the Conservatory of Music at SUNY Purchase where I was an instrumental performance major. A physical setback kept me away from playing after graduating, but being that I always had a head for business, I decided to start helping my artist friends get gigs. It started in that very simple way. Then I got an internship at an agency, made some company moves and ultimately decided that I wanted to be a manager so I could have a more collaborative relationship with my clients and produce.
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How do you choose which clients to accept?
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This is a very hard question to answer since it’s a little different with every client I have taken on. There are some qualities I look for, but for the most part, it’s a feeling I get when I am sitting down with that person. Assuming by the time they have gotten a meeting with me they have the talent, I am looking for clients who are very likable as people, are self creators, (ideally creating their own work), business minded, (not so ego focused that they cannot see that this is really like any other business and there’s a certain presentation and protocol that goes with that), intelligent, (because we are going to, as a team, have to figure things out together a lot), and has a certain drive to succeed that is palpable. The other less obvious reasons to sign someone has to do with my gut feeling and nothing else. And this part I have not been able to explain to anyone. It’s very personal.
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What is your ultimate goal as a manager? What is your ultimate goal in life on a personal level?
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My goal as a manager is to make sure each client is being kept in the now. Meaning, just because clients are not working at the moment, doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to talk about. I do a lot of planting seeds in my work as manager and I tell my staff, talk, talk, talk about what is happening here at Sweet 180. These seeds get planted when we speak to directors, producers, casting directors and agents and sometimes, when we are lucky, they grow into an opportunity. But this is a long term process. Clients have to be in it for the long game. As a producer, my goal is to continue to have some of our projects in development, both in TV and FILM come to fruition.
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On a personal level, as a business owner, the key word is balance. After twenty years, I am still challenged with finding balance between my work life and my personal life. Also, many of my clients cross over into my personal life so where do I find time for my own self care, leisure time and time with my two kids and husband? It’s a juggling act, but somehow I get through every week. I did take seven years part time and directed my own documentary that is doing very well on the festival circuit right now. That seemed impossible when first starting. But it happened. I very much want to write a book.
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What happens when an actor books a job for a few episodes and production decides to extend the contract for more episodes?
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This question is tricky so I will try to dissect it. If you mean, when an actor books a recurring role on a series, there is not necessarily a contract for that recurring role, just a verbal understanding that there are more episodes to come. If a studio wants to lock an actor into committing for a certain number of episodes, they may want a contract, or sometimes, the representation wants this guarantee for a number of reasons. Contractually speaking, language can range from allowing the possibility to extend to not being mentioned at all. Ultimately, these contracts and even verbal agreements are negotiated between two parties who want to make it as clear and easy as possible for the actor. Negotiations, as we call them, are not always as complicated as some people think they are. I like to enter into a negotiation with the idea that with the artist’s interests at the forefront, it will all work out.
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If an unknown actor books a lead role in a new series that takes off, it’s possible that their life will change overnight. How do you, as a manager, prepare that actor for such a change?
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The biggest challenge I have seen actors deal with in the face of this particular scenario, is the sheer visibility that comes with it, how they draw healthy boundaries between a new fan base and their own personal life and holding up the responsibility it takes to carry a show, which includes a lot of work that is outside of showing up to set to shoot. Being the face of a show, or feature, or franchise, you are employed by a company, just like any other company and you are an extension of that company’s goals. Press and marketing are big ticket items on the budget lines of these shows. Social media is now a very large component of these factions. So you have to show up and do your job, with a smile and a lot of energy, but you also have to attend to your other job – representing the show.
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The second biggest challenge is physical and mental burn out.
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I tend to be in an ongoing conversation with clients around these issues. Some calls are at midnight, the night before a big shoot, let’s say. I don’t give pep talks. Because nothing I can say will equal what they will individually will be going through. So I try to live through it with them as things come up. I prepare them by letting them know what to expect but ultimately, the talent decides what kind of contributor they are going to be to a workplace environment and how aware they are going to be of their own limits.
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What are the next steps for an actor who just landed a breakout role?
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Your team is your family. Having a lawyer, PR, business manager, agent(s) and manager in place is key. I am usually the one making these introductions, to new talent especially.
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How do you keep an actor who just landed their first huge role grounded? Have you dealt with actors that overnight get swelled egos? How do you keep them in check?
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Never!!! Seriously, YES and I ask that you refer back to question one. I can usually tell a person’s core values in the beginning of our relationship and the first meeting. And in getting to work on the smaller things I am observing how they are behaving towards not just me, but their comrades in the field.
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Do you have different advice for young performers vs. adults when they get their breakout role?
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No.
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Many actors will never have a breakout role. What do you say to them when they ask you why they continue to get bit parts but never book a main role?
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Don’t give up. If I haven’t given up on you, that means there is still time and real possibility. However, there are some times when clients need an overhaul in their attitude and perception towards the business. I find there is a direct correlation between this attitude (and their ways of thinking) and how much they work.
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Anything else you’d like to add regarding advice for breakout roles?
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Enjoy every minute of it. Nothing lasts forever and remember that it’s all just one small part of the longer story that is your artistic life.
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You can connect with Lillian LaSalle and Sweet 180 Management here:
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Instagram: @the29th
Twitter: @sweet180mgmt

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