Kristen Lowe broke into talent management as an intern and learned the ropes as an assistant and agent with an established agency. Two years ago she launched her own shop. Operating out of a Little Tokyo loft near downtown L.A., Lowe specializes in offbeat actors for TV commercials, Lowe dubbed the company The Fly Trap to differentiate her boutique operation from established players like Creative Artists Agency and International Creative Management. Jennifer Smith talked with Lowe about spotting new talent and the impact a Screen Actors Guild strike might have on her business.
“With a new company you always have to get the word out. The Fly Trap name did that for me you hear it and you don’t forget it. I’m not trying to be a cookie-cutter. I’m downtown, I’m funky, and I’m not into the corporate image thing, like all the big agencies with three initials in their names (e.g. CAA, ICM).”
“We do commercial work. I send people out for everything from IBM to Starburst, Coca Cola, Maxwell House. The group I rep is small, around 200. The age range runs from emancipated minors of 16 or 17 all the way up to 70.
“The casting calls come to me via a satellite service and come out on a printer in my office. Then we go through our client base and send a submission package over. Turnover is quick.
“We find people through referrals, and some people send in their head shots. I also go out and scout showcases. When a prospective comes in, we set up a meeting and have them read some commercial copy. I get back to them four or five days later.
“I look for personality. I like people with a bite to them, something that makes them stand out. It’s a big, big factor because there’s not much time to prepare for an audition. You only have about five minutes to sell yourself.
“We normally book at scale. That’s $478.70 for the day, and the agent gets 10 percent up front. Some actors get paid over scale because of their credits, and then you have to negotiate a price.
“The Screen Actors Guild is expected to strike effective May 1 because they’re trying to raise scale, among other demands. We’re a SAG-franchised agency, so that means I basically can’t do business during the strike. I have a handful of non-union people, but I don’t want to send them out because I support the union. Not supporting the strike will allow it to go on longer than it needs to.”