The Highs and Lows of an Icing

Posted January 24, 2014

So, you totally nailed that audition yesterday and now you are just waiting for a call to hear you booked the gig. Instead, you get a message that the client wants to “ice” you or “put you on hold”. What does that mean!?!

First of all, these two terms are used interchangeably by most of the industry. Basically, the client likes you (they really like you!) and they might want to book you. However, they haven’t quite made up their mind yet or they may be waiting for a big wig or higher level decision maker to approve their talent choices. Or, they may have narrowed down the choices to one or two folks and they don’t want to risk losing an option while they pick.

When you agree to an icing or hold, you are agreeing to keep yourself available for the shoot date. That means you make arrangements for your work or schedule and you do not make other plans or accept other jobs on that date. However, the client still has the option to release you from the hold, or not book you without consequences. If you were “booked” and a client changed their mind, they would be required to pay a cancellation fee. An icing gives them a chance to lock in the talent they want before they are ready to move forward with a firm booking.

Icings are good. In fact, they are GREAT! It means you did a great audition and the client saw something they liked. 4 out of 5 times, an icing will be a booking for you. That fifth time when you don’t get the job usually happens when multiple talent were iced for one role. By the way, I’ll always warn you if you are one of multiple people holding for a role so you can set your expectations accordingly.

It never feels good to be passed on for a job, but it can actually be even harder when you were iced. To come so close and miss out? Some talent would rather have assumed they never had a shot. I encourage you to remember that an icing, regardless of what happens next, means that you were a client’s pick for a job. They saw something they liked and that almost always leads to a future gig. You are now on the client’s radar and they will be more likely to recognize you at another casting or think of you for an upcoming role.


Posted January 23, 2014

Poor neglected blog. When agency life is busy, the blog suffers, but I promise to try and get some helpful posts up regularly this year. If you have a blog topic request, feel free to leave a note on Azalea’s Facebook page!

Applying to Azalea

Posted October 30, 2012

Are you thinking about applying to Azalea Agency for representation?  Let me give you some advice that will help you make the best first impression that you can make!


Do your research.

Take the time to read through Azalea’s website and our FAQs.  The website will answer many of your questions about how our process works as well as how the agency works.  It can be intimidating to put yourself out there and it will help you feel more comfortable if you have an understanding of the agency.


Follow directions.

Under the sign with us tab, directions for applying are outlined.  Azalea asks to see a headshot and a full body shot.  Please don’t send two headshots or just one image total.  We need to see a headshot AND a body shot in order to get a good idea of what you look like!


Send good pictures.

You absolutely do not need professional photos to apply to Azalea.  If you have them, GREAT!  If you do not have professional photos, take the time to have a friend or family member shoot a couple of digitals images for you to use.  Yes, you can dig through your facebook gallery or that shoebox of photos under your bed, but you may end up with blurry shots, photos that have friends in them, or bad lighting.  A great party shot may be the way you like seeing yourself, but remember that this is a professional job opportunity!


Find a well lit spot in your home (sunlight is great) with a plain wall behind you.  Snap a full body shot and then a face shot (remember to smile).  You don’t need a fancy camera, even your cell phone will take a good image if you keep the background uncluttered and you have enough light!


Know your information.

When you are applying, don’t skip an entry and take your time.  Did you know nearly 30% of the entries we get list the current date in the “date of birth” slot?  Read carefully.  We ask for information that is important for us assess if you are a good fit for Azalea.  Before you hit “submit” look over everything and make sure you don’t have any typos.


Keep it Classy.

You are applying to work with Azalea.  Treat this like you would treat any other job opportunity.  No one has ever been turned away because of their email address, but you will certainly look more professional if your email implies that you are.  A simple email with your name is always a better choice than an something like “”.  Remember, email addresses are free.  It’s not a bad idea to create an email to use for professional reasons.  The first impression that you make matters!

The Power of Social Media

Posted April 24, 2012

Are you plugged in?  Azalea certainly is.  Azalea Facebooks.  Azalea tweets.  Azalea has a Linkedin account.  I don’t have to mention Azalea has a blog too, right?  While I don’t spend time online playing “Farmville”, these outlets are vital to the business and keeping in touch with clients and talent alike.

Just last week on Twitter I was able to connect to two new clients, book a job, learn about a play that one of my actors was performing, and show off some new work Azalea talent have performed.

If you aren’t already, take the time to “like” Azalea on Facebook.

Follow us on Twitter.

You might learn something new about Azalea and the industry!

The Art of Slating

Posted April 10, 2012

When preparing for an audition, you surely read and reread your sample script again and again.  You practice in the shower.  You tape it to your steering wheel as you drive to the casting.  You have a spouse, friend, or the cat listen to you tweak it until it’s perfect.

You’ve got it nailed and you are ready to dazzle.  Then, somehow, you blow your first impression before you even get to the script with a lousy slate.

Let me back up.  First of all, what’s a slate?  Simply put, your slate is you stating your name and agency on camera before your audition.  Occasionally, you will be asked to add additional information that is important to the project, like your height or kids may be asked their birthday and age.  It’s a reference tool for the client reviewing the audition.  It gives them a chance to get a feel for your look and sound.  I generally see clients searching their stack of headshots for your face after they watch a slate.

It sounds simple enough, right?  And yet, so many actors have a difficult time taking advantage of the slate.  The good news is, once you’ve mastered your slate, it will be easy to deliver it on demand without much thought.

The best way to perfect your slate is to practice on camera.  Try working on it 10 minutes a day for a week while recording yourself so you can watch it and review your slate.  It will well be worth it and seeing yourself on screen as the client will is the best way to be objective!

Your slate should be simple.  There is no need for a long introduction or a flourish of words.  Try something simple and direct such as “Hello.  I’m Mandi Morris and I am with Azalea Agency.”

Some talent will also add on the name of the character they are reading for, a technique often requested for film auditions.  I recommend reserving this for occasions when it is requested only.  The role being auditioned for will be obvious in most commercial and industrial projects.

The client should feel three things from your slate.

1.  Confidence.  The most common mistake I see is talent stating their name as though it were a question.  Their inflection goes up a bit at the end of their name and makes them sound as though they are looking for confirmation.  “Hello, I’m Mandi Morris?”  Make sure you have a period at the end of that sentence.  Avoid looking anywhere but the camera during your entire slate.  If you are holding a script, keep it down at your side and off camera.  Stay in the moment.  Too often an actor is thinking about their first line and the anticipation of performing the scene during the slate.

2.  Friendliness.  SMILE SMILE SMILE.  A slate is the time to be yourself, not a character.  This is your chance to assure the client that you are kind and easygoing, an absolute joy to have on set.  Take a deep breath, put on your most sincere smile, say your slate and end again with a smile.  Again, maintain eye contact with the camera after you’ve finished speaking for a good solid moment before you rush into the script.  If you act rushed, the client will also feel rushed.  You are in control of your audition, so make sure you know what you are doing!

3.  Clarity.  Enunciate!  We introduce ourselves and say our own name so often in our lives that we rarely think about it.  Avoid mumbling and take your time.  It is very important that a client hears your name the first time so they can remember it!  Equally important, practice saying Azalea Agency.  I’m a fan of alteration (could you tell?), but I know better than anyone that I’ve created a bit of a tongue twister for an actor who is not careful and rehearsed.  It may help to say it slowly a few times to get all the sounds right.  “UH-ZALE-YUH AGE-N-CEE”.

I realize your slate is a brief moment in the course of booking a job, but it is a vital one.  A good slate projects a professional and polished image (there’s that alteration again).  These skills are also applicable for voice over castings, just pretend your microphone is your camera and never forget that you can most definitely “hear” a smile.

Business Hours

Posted March 29, 2012

When I first opened the agency (over a decade ago, ahem), Azalea’s business hours mattered.  I was often asked if I worked weekends or had evening appointments.  Technology wasn’t what it is now and accessing my work email anywhere but my big Dell desktop at the office was a nightmare.  The original phone system was a complicated affair and when I wasn’t in the office, the office was basically closed.

And so, Azalea had strict business hours that we made everyone aware of and that I tried not to stray from.  It was the only fair way for clients and talent to know how and when to reach me.

As time went on, staying “plugged in” was easier and easier.  My phone and my Palm Pilot (remember those!?!) became one.  I not only joined the Apple cult, but I upgraded to a laptop.  The iPhone was released.  More and more of my business calls with clients took place from one cell phone to another while we both ran around town rather than each of us at our desks.  Requests from clients started coming in at 7am, 6pm, 9pm, 2am.  My clients were experiencing the same “office freedom” that I was and were working when it was convenient for them, not during “business hours”.

My job is to be available when the clients have work!  Rigid 9-5 hours no longer made the agency reliable, it made Azalea stuffy and old fashioned.  I strive to work on projects in conjunction with my clients.  I try to be available as much as possible when the rush is on and I deal with the day to day business tasks when I have time.  Usually that is still during the regular old business day, but sometimes it is in the evening or on Sunday morning or whenever I have time to focus and crank things out.  I often get email responses from talent saying “why are you working at 9pm!?!”

The flip side of this is that it’s hard to get away from work.  Having easy constant access to my phone calls and emails means I have to sometimes shut everything off to keep myself from working around the clock!  I try to respond to the urgent things ASAP and everything else within one day, but I do try to avoid the office (no matter how virtual) on the weekends and most evenings if I can.  I think many of my clients feel the same way!

These days when I’m asked for Azalea’s business hours I usually say “9-5ish or when you need me”. I’m trying to walk the line between instant gratification and efficiency!  I hope this means that when you need me, I’ll be available!


Posted January 4, 2012

2011 was a wonderful year for Azalea Agency!  I think we are finally seeing a rebound from the recent slump in the local industry.  In face, we had such a busy fall season that the blog has been gathering a bit of dust.  Sorry about that!

People often use this time of year to make resolutions and reorganize their lives.  Don’t forget to include your marketing materials and career when you make your to do list!

This is a great time of year to shoot new headshots, tweak your resume, and pick out a new audition outfit!  Clean out your talent bag and make sure you are ready to go when the next big shoot books you!  And lastly, freshen up your professional attitude!  Be ready to smile and dazzle the next client, especially in these dreary winter months.

Meanwhile, I vow to keep the blog more updated this year!

Cheers to 2012!

No Pay, Low Pay, & Extra Work

Posted August 18, 2011

As an agent, my job is always to try and get the best pay scale available for my talent and myself.  I mean, I love buying shoes and if my actors and I aren’t banking then my shoe closet starts to look a little stale.  Regardless of my efforts though, there will always be projects that come my way that pay nothing or are so low that you will only break even after filling your car with gas and buying lunch.

So, why do I say yes to these projects?  Well, I don’t always.  However, if it’s a loyal client of mine I may agree to a low paying project knowing that it is atypical of that client and that my help in a pinch will be remembered and rewarded by that client in the future.

When it comes to no pay projects, I’m far pickier.  The first question is always “why is there no pay?”.  Usually the nonpaid projects I get are student films.  I believe is supporting student projects as much as I can if for no other reason than knowing that these students are Azalea’s future clients.

Regrettably, some projects don’t compensate talent because they simply don’t want to.  They don’t think they need to pay an agent and professional talent when they can advertise on craigslist and find actors or models who are willing to work for nothing.  These projects simply don’t respect the amount of work and energy that a professional talent puts into their craft.  These are the jobs I ALWAYS turn down.  It’s one thing to try and make a project work on a budget, it’s another to take advantage of good actors.  Please keep this in mind if you find yourself trolling the internet for gigs.

Now, just because I might say yes to a project like this, doesn’t mean I expect my talent to do it.  Talent with a robust resume likely don’t need the additional credit.  I certainly don’t expect folks to rearrange their schedules like they would for a killer awesome gig.  However, if you are on the greener side of the industry you can look at these jobs as great opportunities.   You might make a little cash, but more importantly, you get invaluable time on set and a credit for your resume.  It’s like paid on the job training.  It’s even better if you are working with an established client who may be impressed and use you for another project (hopefully one with a great budget) in the near future.

Extra work falls into this same category but has a few extra perks.  First of all, extras regularly have the chance to be upgraded on set and I see it happen about 10% of the time.  So, what started out as a long day in a holding tent could be your big break with an upgraded principal role.  Also remember that extras are usually only hired for full fledged quality shoots so you are working with a client who is established.  You cannot beat making a great impression on a client in person and extra work is a good chance to make that happen.

That said, at some point extra work may no longer be worth your time.  Many of my established actors have been working long enough that their reputation proceeds them and extra work or low paid gigs don’t hold the same benefits that a newbie can look for.  I understand and support a talent’s choice to stop doing low paying or extra work, but I say that hoping that people take a humble approach to paying their dues in the industry or being a good sport.  If a client requests you specifically, think hard before you say no.  If you’re in a dry spell and haven’t booked anything for a bit, it might be a good idea to take one of these jobs to keep you fresh and working.


10 Tips to Improve Your Auditions

Posted August 2, 2011

Are you doing your best at every audition?  A good audition goes far beyond your acting skills or your pretty face.  When you are meeting a client, you are not only showing your ability, but also your personality!  And you might be surprised by what an impact that can make on a client’s decision.

Today I am going to list off some of the most powerful things you can do to improve your auditions!

1.  Be on time.  If your audition is at 10am, show up at 9:55am.  Do not show up at 9:40am when a client is not ready for you and has to shuffle you to an area where you can wait.  If you arrive more than a little early, wait in your car or grab a drink from a near by drive thru.  Most importantly, don’t be late!  When you are late you back up the schedule which may make the client miss their lunch break or have to stay after their business hours.  If you are running late, call me so I can let the client know!

2.  Be patient.  There may be a back up when you arrive at your audition.  Maybe someone didn’t read my first tip and has thrown the whole schedule out of whack.  Maybe there is a problem with the equipment.  Regardless of why the audition is late, you can be sure the client is stressed about it.  Don’t make it worse for them by acting irritated.

3.  Smile and be happy!  Odds are good that someone else DID NOT get to audition because you did.  Be glad you have the opportunity.  Don’t answer the question “how are you today” with “ok”, “I’m sick”, “my wife is mad at me”, “my car is broken” or something equally negative.   You are great.  GREAT!  An audition is a job interview and you want to leave the impression that you are an easygoing happy person who will be a joy to have on set.

4.  Don’t judge yourself, that is the client’s job.  The worst thing you can do at an audition is announce “that sucked” the moment you finish your lines.  The client might have loved it.  Don’t tell the client that it sounded better in the car on the way to the audition or that you didn’t have time to practice.  Just do your best, smile, say thank you, and leave it.  Don’t put subconscious hints in the client’s mind (hints that may be inaccurate) that you are not an awesome choice.

5.  Dress correctly.  I know, I know!  We’ve been over this before.  I can’t stress it enough though.  I hate getting calls that someone ruined their shot at gig because they wore the wrong thing.  When in doubt, dress BETTER than you think you should.

6.  Memorize your script.  You will always look more professional and more proficient if you have your lines down.  If you can’t memorize the whole script, memorize the first line and the last line so you can deliver those straight to camera.  Also, make sure that every time you say the client or product name in the script that you do so while looking at the camera.  Just like people enjoy hearing their own names, a client likes hearing the product name said with confidence.

7.  Arrive prepared.  Bring a copy of your script with you and 2 copies of your headshot resume.  Show the client that they don’t have to do extra work for you or ask for things.  Know your sizes and the agency’s contact info in case the client asks for it.  Be efficient.

8.  Be polite to everyone.  If you yell at the woman working the front desk, you can be sure she will tell the client who was in the casting room at the time.  Hold the door for the person walking behind you.  If appropriate, ask the client if they would like you to send the next actor in on your way out.  Treat other actors in the waiting room kindly.  They may be competition, but they may also be future costars.

9.  Don’t shoot the messenger.  A casting director rarely has any input in who is cast for a project, so if you aren’t booking a job, don’t blame them.  However, a casting director does chose who they bring in for auditions and who their client sees, so it’s important to have a good relationship.

10.  Accept constructive criticism.  If a client tells you that you’ve done something wrong at an audition, thank them for the feedback and figure out how to improve on that point.  A client that is willing to offer advice thinks you are worth the time and energy.  If they don’t feel like you have a future in the industry, they wouldn’t bother.  No one likes being critiqued, but try to approach it with an open mind.

Summer Slump? Hardly.

Posted July 7, 2011

As I know my talent have noticed, it’s been a bit slow this summer.  Generally, May and June are hopping, but one of the things I count on in this business is that no year is like the year before.  This past February had me running in circles to keep up with all of the castings and that is rare, so it seems natural that a time I usually count on as busy will be laid back.

Now, there have been some great bookings the past couple of months, but nearly all of them were direct bookings with no casting.  I admit, those sorts of gigs are far nicer for me as an agent, but I know talent like the chance to auditions and earn a gig.

The good news is that things are picking up nicely and my clients seem excited about jobs that are in the prep stage now.  That means fresh auditions and go sees are close behind.

So, how can you make the most out of a slow period?  Easy, focus on your skills and materials while you can!  It’s a great time to shoot new headshots or reassess your current images.  Maybe it’s time to swap out your main photo with a different image from the same shoot.  Clients love seeing a new angle!

Take a few minutes to look over your resume.  Are there new projects you can add?  Have you learned any new skills that might perk up your “special skills” section?  Is it time to edit a few old gigs and replace them with something newer?

While you are tweaking your materials, think about polishing up your skills as well.  Perhaps a class or workshop would be worth your time.  Even the most seasoned pro can benefit from a class occasionally.  You might learn something new and odds are good you will get your creative juices flowing!  I find that more and more clients appreciate improv skills from talent.  If you feel like your camera tricks are strong, consider a local improv class to learn how to think on your feet!

I know it can be frustrating to wait around during slower periods, but remember that the industry goes through slumps and rushes all the time and before you know it you will be running around from client to job to audition again soon!  So sit back, enjoy the summer, but most importantly, make sure you are ready to go when the phone starts ringing!


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