When I was living back East, I used to play center field for the Artistic Endeavors Baseball League. Most of the members were part of the creative community, and playing with them was a cool way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I have an especially fond memory of a surprising play that won a big game for us.
It was the bottom of the ninth and my team had a one-run lead. Our summerlong adversaries, theEquity Sluggers, were up to bat. They had a man on base but they also had two outs. Then Mister Big Shot Broadway Star stepped up to the plate. He swung twice—nothing but air. But on his third try, the tap-dancing son of a bitch slammed the ball right over my head toward a game-winning home run.
Without thinking, I took my eye off the ball and started running back toward the fence. I blindly threw my hand up in the air at a random moment and heard a thud as the ball landed right in my glove. A miracle catch. Game over. Victory!
Looking back, the million-dollar question is: Did I get lucky, or did all those years of practice put me in a position where I was able to get lucky?
I often look at my career as an agent the same way. A lot of my choices are based on skill and years of experience, but sometimes I just get lucky.
There was this one time when casting was looking to hire a large Samoan actor in his 30s who was good at comedy for a recurring role on a network show. Guess what? I was the only agent in town who had a large Samoan actor in his 30s who was good at comedy. So that deal was mine, all mine.
Was that good agenting or was it dumb luck?
I would say it was a combination of both. That role popping up was pure luck. There’s no way I could’ve seen that coming. But I would argue it was smart on my part to sign a talented actor who was in a category that wouldn’t get much play. Sometimes, having faith in a long shot can pay off in a major way.
In other words, a good agent creates his own luck.
That reminds me of a time I got stuck going to a play I didn’t want to see with a girlfriend I was getting ready to drop. (Yes, I use agent terms in my personal life.) The whole night was going to be a bust and I was in a crappy mood.
So there I was, tolerating a boring piece of classical theater next to a girl I would be dating for maybe another three hours when all of a sudden, a talented actor appeared onstage and took my breath away. She was gifted, funny, attractive, and a hundred other adjectives that all screamed SIGN ME!
Long story short, I introduced myself after the show, we decided to work together, and she booked a series regular role on a half-hour show inside of nine months. This actor is now making over half a million dollars a year because I attended a show I didn’t want to see. Looks like we both got lucky on that one!
Part of being an agent involves putting yourself in situations where Lady Luck might smile. That’s why I still attend workshops. You just never know.
And for the record, that miracle catch wasn’t luck. It was skill. And that’s all I have to say about that….