Open Letter to a Would-Be Model

April 18, 2010

Dear Would-Be Model,

There’s been a lot of hype (yes, I said “hype.”) about a so-called fashion scene in central Texas where models get discovered on the street, transported overnight to New York, and then lead a life full of excitement and excess.

Now, I’m not denying there are some dashing young co-eds on campus who could definitley do editorial. My point is that the press has put certain managers and franchises in the fashion spotlight, suggesting overnight success without also painting a picture of reality.

I’ve been an agent to actors and models for over five years. Plenty of pretty people walk through my door, but only two of them since the inception of Agence have gone on to get gigs in bigger markets like NYC and LA. Both of them were terribly beautiful, tall, and in their teens. Pretty or not, if you are a 5′ 7″ twenty-something, you aren’t going to cut it in the editorial world. It’s not realistic.

So, what is realistic, then? Commercial work. The bulk of a print model’s bookings in Texas is for advertising, or “pretty people promoting products.” Agence models recently landed print campaigns for Dave and Busters, T Mobile, and 3M, to name a few. It’s not glamorous, but then again, neither is starving yourself to meet strict industry standards in the fashion world. I digress.

If you still think you’ve got what it takes for the catwalk or a Chanel campaign, contact me. I won’t ask you to spend a single penny on modeling conventions or a portfolio. If a reputable NY agency signs you, they’ll put you up in their model apartment, take care of your pictures, and get paid when you start working. Pretty simple.



Sam Eidson is Bobbi Alexander

February 8, 2010


There are actors who will only act when given a gig, and there are actors who will act no matter what–even if it means assembling their own bogus country band and belting out  “they’re so bad, they’re good” ballads.

Agence’s recent roster addition, Sam Eidson, is the latter. His hilarious group, Hard Gravel, is anything but politically correct and absolutely NSFW.

But we reckon you’ll likely laugh your chaps off.

Janie Smith on Getting Back Into the Biz

January 19, 2010

Janie Smith’s come a long way from modeling for major airlines “back in the day” (seen below, third from left). Meek and quiet when we met, Janie will do just about anything now to land in front of a lens–including a cold swim for a commercial in mid-December. Brrr.

AT:  We met when I opened Agence and you were getting back into the ‘biz.’ Why did you decide in your “mature” years to start modeling again?

JS:  I enjoyed doing publicity for the airlines many years ago when I was a flight attendant, and I had just finished several lifestyle shoots for a Waco newspaper. Then I saw you on the news one night being interviewed about your new agency. You said you were looking for models between 6 and 60. I thought about it and said, “Why not?”

Eastern Air Lines L1011 Engine

AT:  Of course, what started as a stint in modeling took off into acting, too. I was impressed with your willingness to go there. Was that a big leap for you?

JS:  Are you kidding? It was like jumping into the Grand Canyon! I had never acted nor wanted to. But you called about an audition for Ford and asked if I could swim and ride a bicycle—and I said, “Sure!” Little did I know I would be a senior tri-athlete, running through the woods, jumping over rocks and logs in Bastrop Park, riding a bike up an down hills, and swimming in a lake in the middle of December! I dove into the freezing water and came up gasping, “What in the world have I gotten myself into?”  But I loved it. And I’d do it all over again.

AT:  What advice do you have for other would-be actors/models in your demographic?

JS:  I’d tell them to “Go for it! You might be really surprised what you can do! Plus, you get paid to have fun!”

AT:  What has been your favorite booking?

JS: That’s hard because I have several favorites. One commercial spot stands out for 3-Mobile because of the costumes, makeup, location, crew and of course, craft services was totally unbelievable—stuffed grape leaves for snacks and steak and salmon for dinner!  The producer and director were from the UK and treated us like royalty and I even had my own assistant! It was amazing.

AT:  What would be your dream booking, or the role I’d call you about and you’d drop the phone in excitement?

JS:  I get excited with every booking! There’s a couple that would make me drop the phone and start dancing—anything to do with fishing or outdoor adventures, and anything that had great locations, costumes, hair, make-up. Maybe something futuristic or even working with dinosaurs!

AT:  Dinosaurs? Wow. Until then, tell me the greatest thing about getting back into the ‘biz’ for you.

JS:  It has added something new and exciting to my life and it’s so much fun! It’s not anything I ever planned to do, but I’m happy to have this opportunity. I’ve met so many interesting people, have made some great friends, and continue to learn a lot. Every shoot is different and I love to watch everything that goes on behind the scenes. It’s also pushed me to stretch out of my comfort zone. I could barely say my name loud enough for anyone to hear in the first class I ever took, auditions were not fun, and I just wanted to ‘get booked off the web site’. But that’s all changed! Classes have also helped tremendously, and now I actually have fun doing most auditions.

AT:  I know you are a wild outdoorswoman who fishes and hunts. What else do you do that might surprise those who don’t know you?

JS:  I’ve been really adventurous. Jumped a train, flown jet planes, driven racecars, backpacked around Europe, white water rafted, and a few other things I won’t mention. Now, I’m a little older and wiser, but I’m still up for adventure or I wouldn’t be involved in this biz!

AT:  What can you not live without?

JS:  I couldn’t live without my faith! It’s seen me through some major life tragedies. I feel blessed in many ways with a great church, friends, and family—including my wonderful husband of almost 32 years, Joe. I have so much to be thankful for.

AT:  Alright, so what’s next for Janie Smith?

JS:  Hopefully, that phone call where I drop the phone and start dancing! Seriously, I’m ready.

Robert and Blake Spoof CSI for John Deere

December 14, 2009


Two of our favorite actors, Robert Kraft and Blake Smith, recently booked this John Deere industrial directed by Jeffrey Travis. The promotional commercial spots are in a mini-series format, spoofing CSI. Both Robert and Blake can be seen in episode one, but be sure to watch the entire set. It’s worth it, and you may learn a thing or two about proper lubricant.

Beth Sepko Talks Success and Staplers

November 3, 2009

jwj Beth Sepko 032This year has been a bust for many in the entertainment biz, but Beth Sepko isn’t buying into that. Austin’s Emmy-award winning casting director stayed busy and booked countless actors in locally shot films and TV series. So, we are humbled Beth took time out to answer our burning questions.

Actors, take notes!

AT:  Beth, how does it feel to be the woman every actor in Texas wants to get in front of right now? What are your thoughts on that and your success as a casting director?

BS:  This is tough to answer. I feel incredibly fortunate to have consistent work, especially in casting more than one network television series at a time. It’s terrific that my accomplishments are recognized to a point where I’m sought out by producers and studios. It is also incredibly stressful with the pressure to service each project and find the right actor for each role.

Being sought by actors? There are mixed “feelings” there. I am appreciative of actors who rearrange their schedules at a moment’s notice to make it to an audition. That is a benefit to the position I’m in.  But to have a large number of actors desperate to audition in front of me mostly makes me uncomfortable. I’m not someone who enjoys going to mixers where actors chat me up. I usually avoid such events. When I have a role that suits an actor, I will give him a shot. But actors need to stay in classes and be ready when the shot comes.

AT:  And how did you get to this point? You are an agent turned casting director, right?

BS:  I did start as a talent agent in San Antonio in ’88. Six years later, I made the move to casting. I was an assistant to Kitty Blair, who specialized in commercials. It was two years later that I landed my first principal casting job on a Disney movie called “Rocketman.” Each new gig led to another, and I’ve now made a living as a CD for over 15 years.

AT:  If you were told you had to retire from this industry, what would you do instead?

BS:  I would go into non-profit work full-time. I sit on the boards of both Reel Women and the Austin Film Society. I find the work these organizations do to help young people quite rewarding.

AT:  Until you do that, what projects are you currently casting and/or have coming up?

BS:  We are 8 episodes into the 4th season of “Friday Night Lights.” There are 18 episodes to go on the current studio order, which we think will lead to a wrap on that project. My office recently wrapped “Machete” for Robert Rodriguez. We cast 23 principal roles and hundreds of extras for that film. Robert is keeping us on for “Predators”, but there may not be any principals to cast. We are also casting the 7th segment of Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood.” I’ve been busy working on a new series currently titled “The Deep End,” filming in Dallas. Our hope is that ABC loves the show and orders another full season.

AT:  Do you think we’ll continue to see more films and series shot locally with the incentives package in place?

BS:  The latest incentive package put TX back in the game again. We are still getting beat by other states offering better incentives, but I hear there are already several films planning to come to Texas at the beginning of next year, as well as another major network series considering coming in.

AT:  In one sentence, what advice would you give Austin actors?

BS:  Keep training.

AT:  You see talented people all the time; which talent would you most like to have?

BS:  I wish i could write! I’m very impressed by the writers I’ve met in recent years.

AT:  Besides actors who aren’t prepared, what is your biggest pet peeve?

BS:  Actors who don’t bring headshots with their resumes stapled to them! Also, actors who drop by my office. When I don’t have work, I don’t go to my office. If I am in my office, I’m busy working!

AT:  What three adjectives would your friends use to describe you?

BS:  I am guessing funny, loyal, and kind.

AT:  I’m sure people think you are rubbing shoulders with the stars regularly. So, it’s 7PM on Saturday night. What are you likely doing?

BS:  If I am at a wrap party “rubbing shoulders with the stars,” it is a work function and I treat it as such. You will not see me drunk and dancing on tables. I do have a great group of friends I cut loose with, but my Saturday nights are pretty boring right now. I’m so busy with work during the week that my weekends are all about relaxing.

Thanking Our Lucky Stars

October 29, 2009


When I started this “Little Agency Who Could” five years ago, I certainly didn’t think I’d be winning awards for being the best. But thanks to the Austin Ad Fed’s annual “Big Wig Awards,” Agence Talent has won the acrylic star every year since its inception! Last night’s Halloween-inspired soiree at Mercury Hall was no exception.

I am proud to preside over a winning agency–but more importantly, to keep company with the top creative professionals in the community. Kudos to the Ad Fed for recognizing those of us who work in conjunction with the ad biz to keep it kicking butt!

Zion’s Going Green

October 20, 2009

Edited Black dress dhills_091001_9925If you haven’t already heard of Zion, you likely will–and I don’t mean just on this blog.

Zion is one of those women with more charm and chic-ness in her pinky than most people have, period. Her charisma is contagious. So, when Zion told me about a contest she was entering, without knowing much about it, I declared her the winner. Now, a little over a month later, Zion just heard word that she is one of Project Green Search’s top ten finalists. In November, she heads to LA to compete for the top prize.

Well, I think she’s already won.

Zion’s Profile for Project Green

Spotlight On: Phillip Emanuel

September 28, 2009

phillipPhillip Emanuel is an agent’s dream. Always available and on time. Never an excuse nor complaint. Clients love him. Oh, he also books jobs.

So, just how does he do it?

AT:  Phillip, where does that positive attitude come from and how can I get some?

PE:  I just try not to take life for granted. I wake up in the morning and think to myself–I’m in good health, I can see, I can hear, I have all my limbs. I have nothing to complain about. There are people with a lot less than me who still enjoy life to the fullest. How can you get some? Take two aspirin, get a good night’s rest, and call me in the morning.

AT:  When I see you, you’re smiling. What brings you the most joy in life?

PE:  Great friends and family, and the freedom to pursue my dreams in life.

AT:  When did the acting bug bite you?

PE:  When I was 4 or 5 and my mom made me do the annual church Christmas play. At first, I really hated it! But I think you hate everything your parents make you do at that age. As the years went on, and I started having bigger roles and doing different shows with my youth group, I eventually loved being on stage.

AT:  You’re the “King of Callbacks and Bookings.” What is your secret to auditioning?

PE:  Relaxing and listening! They both stem from training. If it’s a big audition, my nerves are much more tame if I’ve worked on something with a coach beforehand. For the smaller auditions, a lot of the training that I’ve gotten from acting classes help out tremendously. I try to shake out as much of the nerves as possible with a quick warm up, listen to what the casting director asks for, and give that.

AT:  What is your dream role to play?

PE:  It’s not really what role, it’s who I would love to work with. That’s Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, Jamie Foxx. Oh, the list goes on and on.

AT:  What’s the best part of being an actor, in your opinion?

PE:  The variety. I’m a project person. I love to work on something, enjoy the finished product, and move on to something new. Oh, and as my career progresses, the traveling!

AT:  A genie gives you a magic lamp; what are your three wishes?

PE:  To spend a month on a tropical island, doing anything I want; To travel through the universe on a spaceship that goes warp speed since I’m a Science Fiction buff; To have a very successful acting career because in this industry, that’s never promised.

AT:  What is your most treasured possession?

PE:  A box of old stuff from High School and my younger years. Sometimes I like to go back and read the old letters, and look at pictures and baseball cards. If there was ever a fire, I would try to save that box first.

AT:  What’s next for Phillip, the actor, as well as the regular guy?

PE:  I’m in rehearsals for a new play, “Murder Ballad Murder Mystery” at the Vortex Theatre in late October. Everyone should come see it. As for the regular guy…continuing to chase the dream!

Jeff Runnels in Der Vater

September 24, 2009


There is so much talent in Austin.

Herzlichen Glückwunsch (that’s “kudos”) to Der Vater (2009), directed by Jamie Moore and acted in by Agence’s Jeff Runnels. This short film shows a shining example of creative talent coming out of this town.

You can view Der Vater in its entirety here:

Black and Whites by Don Couch

September 18, 2009


Photographer Don Couch travels the world capturing images for magazines like National Geographic, so we are lucky to have him as our “unofficial staff photographer.” Don is the shooter responsible for the dramatic black and white images rotating on our homepage. We give you thanks, Don!

See more of Don’s work and some of our other talent on his website:

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