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Agent's Corner


Q&A with Commercial Agent of the Year, Hugh Leon


I recently had the pleasure of talking with Hugh Leon from Coast to Coast Talent. Hugh has been the Talent Manager's Association's Commercial Agent of the Year for the past 2 years, and has been nominated for the past 9 years. He was gracious enough to take the time to give us some insight from a commercial agent's perspective.

Judy:  What do you look for in an Actor that comes in for representation? What do you tell actors after you sign them? 
Hugh:  There are four things that I typically look for when considering taking on a client:
  1. Do you have a commercial look? I know this is subjective, but the first thing I need to evaluate is whether or not you are something I can sell.
  2. Do you fill a need for us?
  3. Can you handle copy and How do you handle direction?
  4. Personality! Do I feel that you are going to be high maintenance? Are you somebody that I know I can send out there and  be confident in your ability to do well, be professional, charming and personable? Finally, will we get along?

We conduct a thorough orientation after signing. Both sides should know what we expect from them and what they expect from us. Make sure that they have the right photos, are enrolled in a good class, like yours, even if they already have training. I only recommend 3 places, and Keep it Real Acting is one of them. After you feel that you are at the top of your game, then do showcases. Also, Improv training- and not just 101, but one of the big stages like UCB, iO West or Second City.

Judy: What's the best way for an actor to bolster their relationship with an agent?
Hugh: The best way to foster a good agent relationship is to comply with what we ask from them. Make sure they have the right materials, stay on top of their game and don't fall into the woodworks. We don't always have time for drop-bys. Instead shoot us emails to catch up! Its important to keep in touch without being over burdening or obnoxious. Always remember: We are 10% and you are 90%… What are you doing for your 90%?

Judy: What tips would you give to an Actor who is in a slump (not booking)? 
Hugh: They have to understand that when they are going through a slump and it starts to trigger their psyche; maybe they are down about personal stuff, and it really starts to mess with their confidence. A lot of actors' inner feelings can't be hidden. Their confidence is not the same. 

Find a way to reach within, to concentrate on the positives, even if there aren't many. You may even have to go back and tell yourself "I'm talented," "I have my house," "I have my friends." Find something on the inside that really shines through to make the confidence and inner light shine again. The People that are booking are the people out there that are just happy. They found peace and happiness and they just shine! 

Get into a class and you'll find breakthroughs! You'll be able to watch yourself on tape. The class itself has other actors in it going through similar career swings. It'll give you the opportunity to get out of your head and have someone point things out and notice the little things that are there. To me, the buttons at the end really make a difference. They'll separate you from the pack, when other actors are saying the same lines.

Judy: What is the most rewarding thing for you as an agent? What part of being an agent is most fulfilling?
Hugh: Booking is my favorite thing… Helping them fulfill their dreams. When an actor gets really excited, and they scream and yell, that makes me happy! Show a little excitement. It makes me want to have you book again. One of the most fulfilling experiences is when someone is in a slump, we have a little pep talk, and then they go out to book!

Judy: What advice would you give to actors who are without representation?
Hugh: There are a lot of actors that aren't represented, so make sure you stand out. Many actors put the cart before the horse. Set yourself up for an agent before you get one. Actors should get decent pictures with the right background. Actors should also have commercial training- not just theatrical training. Have your ducks in a row, know your business and get your feet wet before you even approach representation. Do your research.Get to know who you are approaching and how you are coming across. You can't just show up on a baseball field and say "Ok, I want to be a Philly!" Why should an agent represent you? Give them a reason for it.

Hugh Leon is a partner and head of the adult commercial and celebrity departments at Coast to Coast Talent Group, one of the leading talent agencies in Los Angeles since 1987. Coast to Coast represents youth and adult actors for commercials, print, voice over and film/tv. Hugh has been an active participant in the entertainment industry for over 4 decades. He began his show business career as a child actor in Philadelphia before moving to New York City, and later to Los Angeles. After graduating from UCLA, he worked at a couple of agencies before joining Coast to Coast in 1996. Hugh's lifelong experience in show business has contributed to his unparalleled success in representing commercial & celebrity talent. He has been nominated by the TMA 9 years in a row and winner of 3 'Commercial Agent of the Year' Seymour Heller awards (2007, 2012, & 2013). Hugh has also been featured in numerous television program interviews, and is quoted in countless national industry publications.