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    Posted February 7, 2011

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Agent Access Auditions - Big Success

By Keith Howard, Director of Auditions

Equity members began enjoying a terrific new membership benefit late in 2009: an ongoing series of open auditions attended by NYC-area AEA-franchised agents. Over thirty sessions of Agent Access Auditions (AAAs or "Triple-A's"), all of them free of charge to members, were held in 2009-10. Seventy-four agencies - every active, local franchised firm - attended at least one session.

That's the good news. The better news? AAAs are already working. Several members have told us that they have signed or are freelancing with agents who saw them at these auditions. And Triple-A's are continuing, with three sessions scheduled in January 2011, three in February, and many more throughout the year.

Not surprisingly, Triple-A's have become very popular among Equity members, with a total of 1,046 members participating in 2009-10. During that year, the average participating member was seen by four agencies - agencies for which s/he might not have had the chance to audition, had it not been for this new Equity program.

Member Pearl Rhein, who has recently worked at La Jolla Playhouse and Alabama Shakespeare Festival, attended two sessions, auditioning for Abrams Artists Agency, Emerging Talent, Paradigm, Peggy Hadley Enterprises Ltd. and The Roster Agency. She sees AAAs as a career tool - one that complements her other efforts. "I attend EPAs. I also go to agent seminars and one-on-ones, which charge $25 - $50 to meet one agent at a time. AAAs are especially good, because you can be seen by as many as three agencies at once, all at no cost."

Triple-A's are the brainchild of Equity Councillor Bob Knapp. Mr. Knapp, along with Agency Committee Chair Judy Rice, Eastern EPA Committee Chair Linda Cameron and Equity staff, worked with members of the National Association of Talent Representatives (NATR), the organization that represents many agencies, to give Equity members seeking representation this fantastic new chance to enhance their career opportunities. Mr. Knapp states, "I've been working on this for a decade, because I felt it was vital for all members to have access to the agents Equity franchises. I'm thrilled that AAAs have been such a success!"

To accommodate agents' schedules, Triple-A's are usually held on Monday evenings. Volunteer Equity monitors run the auditions with the same remarkable efficiency and supportive attitude that they bring to EPAs and ECCs.

While AAAs usually alternate between musical sessions (with members performing songs) and dramatic sessions (monologues), Equity has not hesitated to create special auditions when appropriate. For example, three agencies who work mostly with young people attended a special AAA held for members under 18. And Equity owes special thanks to Lucille DiCampli of the agency McDonald/Selznick Associates for proposing a special Triple-A, held just for dancers. In fact, not only did MSA propose the dancers' call, the agency also provided - free of charge - the services of a professional choreographer and assistant to work with auditioning dancers! MSA has offered to do this again in 2011.

Agencies have been very positive about the new program, several telling us how much they enjoy this chance to see actors they would not have been able to meet otherwise. As of January 2011, over half of NYC-area agencies have already planned their 2011 AAA attendance.

The program would not be possible without the contributions of dedicated staff members. These include National Director of Membership John Fasulo and Agency Representative Calandra Hackney. Making AAAs work on a day-to-day basis are the Eastern Region Auditions Department staff, including Assistant Director Robin Welch and Associate Angel Wuellner.

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