In the 7 years that I’ve been working as a host, I’d often wish that someone would’ve told me then what I later learned about landing an agent. Ask anyone in show business and they will share the importance of having a good agent, as well as a reputable agency representing you. Speaking from my own experiences, it can be a daunting task even landing a meeting, not to mention an agent. If you’re lucky enough to get a meeting, what do you say or do once you’re there and what should you bring? It’s important to arm yourself with as much information as possible in your search for the right agent. The fact is that in my career as an HR person, it’s not much different than interviewng for any job that you are qualified for and excited about. If you are a host seeking representation, there are a handful of top agencies coveted by talent. One of those talent agencies is the Bobby Ball Agency.
The Bobby Ball Agency (BBA) was founded in Phoenix, Arizona in 1963, before moving to Los Angeles, California in 1985. BBA was a huge dance agency and one of the first agencies to represent dancers in Los Angeles. Their divisions have included representation in music, celebrity, look alike and sports. Currently BBA has one of the most successful commercial, print, voice-over, theatrical, stunts and hosting departments.
Christine Tarallo is an agent with BBA representing hosts and on-air talent. Landing an agent is the one situation where the role is reversed. Generally, as a client you would get to select who you want to do business with. In the case of an agent, they make the selection. If you’re continuing your search to sign with an agency, Tarallo shared her insights with me on landing host representation.
I grew up in Miami, Florida. I was a dancer from the age of 2! I was also a professional classical stage dancer from 1985-1998 in Las Vegas, Broadway Tours, Tokyo, London and Norway.
Going From Being Talent to Representing Talent
Dancing evolved into talent representation. I began as a hair and make-up artist representative for a couple years, then a print and commercial agent for 12 years. During my time as a print agent I also became the Director of Operations of the agency for about 8 years. I began to realize I wanted to get back to my roots and work closely with the talent again and return to my passion of guiding and building careers. The hosting thing just happened – one day I was covering the host agent’s desk and a big negotiation came in. I had so much fun working with the talent and handling the deal that I haven’t looked back since!
The $50,000 Question – Blind Submissions and Landing a Meeting
Yes, I do accept blind submissions. What would make me want to call a person in from a blind submission is if they have a nice heavy resume and a solid reel. That always catches my eye, but if the talent is in more of a development stage I’ll check out the reel and look for a certain naturalness and ease in front of the camera. I try to find unique looks, cleverness, honesty and specialty skills that could help me with pitching the talent.
Pet Peeves When Meeting with Talent
Perfume! While I always ask if the talent has any questions at the end of our meeting, I don’t want to feel like I’m being interrogated. A couple questions are fine, but I don’t have time to teach a seminar.
Unusual Thing Someone Did to Try and Get Signed
A guy dressed up like a police officer and asked to speak to one of the agents. He got to the agent, but definitely did not get signed.
Current Trends in Hosting
I think hosting is all over the board. Many projects are looking for personality driven hosts whereas other projects need hosts who are absolute experts in a particular field. I do see that there seems to be a lot more “dude” driven shows than not. I think networks are tending to go for more organic situations than “set-up” type reality shows. The host has to have a real connection and ease with the topic.
Expectations from Clients or Potential Clients
The talent must constantly be working on their reel. Also, all on-line submission service profiles must be kept current. All personal blogs, web-sites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn accounts must be updated on a regular basis. I hate looking on one of my talent’s blog or web-site and seeing it hasn’t been updated in 6 months! How can I send that material to a casting director? It’s embarrassing and to me it means the talent is not serious about pursuing or working hard for a hosting career.
Defining a Good Host
A good host is confident, clever, quick, and great under pressure, easy-going, flexible, a lover of life and people. Someone who has the gift of gab and willing and eager to put in the work, as well as keep their web site, reel and social media updated.
Training Recommendations for Hosts
I suggest that one watch lots of TV first and foremost. Then take tons of improv and commercial classes. There are great hosting classes out there but I only recommend spending enough time in them to understand camera angles, and any other “technical” hosting-isms to be comfortable in front of the camera. The rest of it is all about personality, spontaneity, and the ability to handle any improvised situation. Hosting was looked down upon a few years ago, now everyone wants to do it or think they can do it as long as they know how to talk.
Suggestions on Competing for Gigs with Hosts Who are Household Names
Focus on your special skills. If you were a college athlete then try to carve out a little niche with that specialty in mind. Same with fitness, carpentry, design, cooking, comedy, travel, or whatever your specialty niche is.
Words of Advice
Working towards a career as a successful host is a full-time job. If you can’t commit at least 15 hours per week to maintaining your “business” then you probably should look for something else!
Good luck to my fellow colleagues on your quest!