Gail McCauley gets JobShadowed about her career and the company she founded. She can be found on her website www.azmodelandactormanagement.com and on her Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview.
I am the President and Founder of ‘Arizona Model and Actor Management, a Sag/Aftra licensed model and talent agency located in Scottsdale, Arizona.
How would you describe what you do?
We are a full service model and talent agency that covers all forms of film, television, modeling and voice overs for talent ages 1 and up.
What does your work entail?
My work is really two fold: there is the client end which includes consistently networking to expand my client base and add more clients to my agency in order to bring in additional projects and work for my talent. Then there is the talent side of my work which entails scouting talent and always being on the look out to search and bring on the best quality talent who are able to book the projects for the agency.
What’s a typical work week like?
In our industry, there is never a ‘typical’ work week!! If you like change and ‘going with the flow’ and you crave jobs with variety where every day is different, you’ll likely love the entertainment industry! Although there are many ‘typical’ jobs that one may find (i.e.. an actor, a model, a voice over artist- within those jobs, there is so much variety in the environment with which you can work. For instance, you may work on a movie set, you can work on a television show or a web video, etc.., etc…).. Jobs often pop up at the last minute and many of our talent work flexible job schedules in order to accommodate being available to attend auditions, callbacks and shoots.
How did you get started?
I owned my own freelance writing business for 12 years and learned how to market myself as a writer. I’ve always done a lot of networking with every job that I had. While I was a freelance writer, I also taught fashion marketing at a local community college, where I learned about a position from a college that was available to run a small talent agency. I had NO experience in this area, except with running my own business as a writer. I interviewed and got the job! I worked there 4 years, then decided to start my own model and talent agency.
What do you like about what you do?
I LOVE what I do! Have you ever heard the expression, ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life?’ That is ‘my’ mantra!!! I’ve had several ‘jobs’ before I hit on this career and never ‘loved’ any. One thing led to another and there were areas of each job that I liked but for some reason I knew it wasn’t ‘the’ job. When I started working in this industry, I ‘knew’ this was it! I LIVE, EAT and SLEEP this job!!! That’s how you know that you like what you do!!! When you don’t keep track of how many hours you work… you just do it! You are doing it for the love of it:)
What do you dislike?
That’s an easy one. I am not a math person. I have always struggled with the ‘numbers’ part of my businesses. I know that’s my weak spot. So from the beginning I hired a book keeper who comes in to my business at regular intervals and checks my books.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
Our agency is either compensated percentage wise (from our talent, as part of their contractual agreement), or we are also compensated by are clients, where we can bill them either a flat rate or an hourly rate.
How much do you make? (optional)
How much money did/do you make starting out? (optional)
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing (Fashion) and I do feel that a person in my area of expertise should be educated in order to deal not only with the talent, but also with the clients. A model and talent agency owner comes into contact daily with so many people coming from so many backgrounds, from all over the world. It is pivotal to be someone who can handle the public arena.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Most challenging.. An easy one… Dealing with people… People of all backgrounds, all types, all ages. You never know who or what you will find in a person and you need to treat people fairly and well- basically treat people the way you want to be treated. I try to never forget that, no matter how challenging a person may be (and there are always challenging people in any business).
What is most rewarding?
The most rewarding thing about my business is when someone simply says, ‘Thank you’ to me. That’s it… just a thank you. Period. Thank you for doing a good job for me. I opted to open a small, ’boutique’ agency so that I would ‘know’ the talent that I work with better and be able to refer them to clients easier, and hopefully book more gigs. If that helps to book more work and fulfill a few dreams along the way, great! That’s what it’s all about!! When one of my agency’s talent auditions, gets the callback and then books the gig… then they email me and say: ‘ Thank you Gail for supporting me and helping me through this process. I’m glad you were my agent’. That really makes my day!
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Don’t do it unless you plan on working nights, weekends, possibly holidays and having an EXTREMELY flexible schedule. Yes, it is most exciting and it can be glamorous (depending upon the area of the country where you live- you may be able to work occasionally with celebrities)… but don’t do it for that! Do it for the love of the industry!
How much time off do you get/take?
I’ve had the business 3 1/2 years and I’ve never taken more than 6 days in a row off together at one time. Typically its 3 days in a row kind of a time off. I carry my lap top EVERYWHERE and am ALWAYS on call for my casting directors when a last minute casting comes in. I simply cannot miss anything.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That it is always glamorous. Some of the jobs are simply not. Sometimes we book promotional gigs like contests and give aways at discount stores, etc… Not all jobs are glamorous and they don’t all pay a ton of money. Extra work also pays very little.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
I would like to expand my agency into additional states.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
It is a 24/7 job if you want to do it effectively and successfully. Be honest with your clients and your talent. They will all respect you and you will grow as an agency, despite what the economic circumstances are. Our agency did and we are now the newest Sag/Aftra agency in the state of Arizona.