Since I am on a mission to introduce you to some people that I admire and respect in the entertainment business, I wanted to make sure to interview my friend Eric Kind. He is a personal manager and one of the 'kindest' people you could know. (Sorry for the pun. I am sure he gets that a lot.) We met up at Jerry's Deli for lunch. I worked at Jerry's for a short time when I first moved to LA. I sucked at it.
What has been your personal path to the entertainment industry?
I started out as an actor, and actually trained at one of the conservatories at the collegiate level. Over a summer I worked at Liz Lewis Casting in NY and really fell in love with that side of it. I wasn’t expecting that. But I found that I was still able to speak the language of the actor without being the actor. I was really getting into business side and I felt something between casting and agency would work for me. So I kind of knew right when I was out of college. The day I graduated from school, I applied for a job and at Buchwald in NYC, and soon started working there. After that I worked at two separate casting offices in NYC and then moved to LA. Once I got here, I worked at a production company for a little while, but ended up over at Lionsgate.
How did you go from working at a big production company to going into talent representation?
Well, at Lionsgate I was working in business and legal affairs in TV. And somewhere along the lines, someone asked me to do a workshop. When I walked in, I saw 30 actors. 28 of which, didn’t seem to know what they were doing. Many of these actors needed a classroom and not an opportunity to be ‘seen’. I felt empathy as a former actor and former casting worker. I just wanted to help these people. So I shifted gears and applied what I learned at the conservatory to turn the workshop into a class. Then all of a sudden I started getting a lot of requests to teach. So I teamed up with a Casting Director and we started teaching a lot. When I left Lionsgate, my initial thought was “Well, I’ll just go teach” because I really loved it. I really got some satisfaction out of it. That’s not an easy thing to jump into in LA. There are a thousand teachers. How am I going to get a client base? So I went to work for an agency and that really kept me close to working with the people that I loved.
From being a Talent Agent you became a Talent Manager. How do you see your current position differing from when you were an agent?
In my experience, I feel like the two are related. I’m still dealing with the actor’s business and my business and legal background in television really helps. But I’m also dealing with the other issues that come up. Or how they feel about auditions. I feel I have become more accessible. I don’t think a lot of actors call up their agents and say “Ugh, I didn’t feel so great about that one” because the agents are busy and the client’s don’t want to bother them. I really think that’s something that is lost in entertainment. This is still a service part of the industry. Agencies, management companies, Attorneys, PR, we’re all service people. We get paid for being of service. The client who is paying, is the boss. So I’ve really started taking that into consideration with every conversation that I have. I need to be helpful and serve in whatever capacity I can. Even if it’s just helping decide where to go for headshots or what part of town to move to.
Do you think training as an actor gave you a better eye to spot talent in your potential clients?
Yes and no. Because I think everyone has an eye for their own taste. If you see someone on TV who is not trained, and you like it, you keep watching it. If you don’t like it, you change the channel. I feel like I know someone can act just by talking to them. I can get a feel for whether or not we share some common history, and then I feel like I know where they are at.
Interesting. So as a Talent Manager, you can spot whether someone has talent or not. But how to you spot if they have potential to earn a living or not?
Those are the two different sides of the coin. You know it’s funny. I’ve been talking a lot lately to my clients about auditioning. Which is not the same as acting.
It’s like saying to someone “What do you do?”
And they respond “I’m a musician.”
And I say “Great, play the flute for me.”
And they say “Well I don’t play the flute. I play the piano.”
And I go “But yeah, you just said you were a musician”
And I feel like it’s the same thing with acting. There’s the ART. And then there’s the BUSINESS. I think there’s an ART to auditioning, and that’s just another side of the business. Many people think that just because they have trained as an actor, that they are trained to audition. But no, that’s not the case.
Is there something specific you look for in Kind Management clients?
I think it changes. Every month. I’m using this new tool called Active Pitch, which I love, and one of the services they have is that they pull clips from the shows you have been on. They will literally go find the show, edit the clips you are in and just put it right up on their page. And I don’t mean this as a plug for them, I was just really very pleasantly surprised. So I was talking to my client and said “You have 3 shows with 6 clips, this is going to go on your credit card that they have on file.” He said “yeah, do what you want. You gotta spend money to make money” And I thought “why can’t I have more like you?” You know, you tell somebody to go do this, and they don’t do it for four months. You tell someone else to go do this, and they don’t do it ever. You ask someone else to do something and they do it immediately. But it’s a back and forth. I’m sure some of my clients wish my manager did this and I’ve got to be accountable for it.
Do you have a niche? Are you the type of manager who likes a specific age range or look?
I don’t have a niche. I feel like I have been getting people with very few credits as series regulars on shows. Which is baffling because it goes against everything that I’ve ever been told. But I love being able to get that developmental actor in the room. It might come from the fact that I think I have a good eye, but I know my clients are going to do the job. That’s why I have them on my roster. That’s why I feel confident sending everyone who’s on my roster into the room, because I know they’re going to do a good job. And it’s not about booking the role, it’s about booking the room. Because the truth is, you’re auditioning for everything that casting director’s ever going to cast. So as far as my niche, I have 3 people on series right now. One of them had zero tv credits. Another one had a few. But one of the things that I want for my company is life-long clients. Just because you’re not doing great that year, doesn’t mean I am going to drop you. At some point, if I feel like I can’t help you and you’re better served elsewhere, that’s the only time I’m going to say “Hey, we should have a discussion about this”
How can actors get on your radar? Is there an appropriate way to get your attention?
Yeah. Don’t call me Gordon.
Is that what people call you?? Gordon??
Some guy wrote me this morning and started the email “Hi Gordon, I’m ______________. I’m looking for a new manager…” And that happens more often than you think. What happens is, people write the form emails, and copy and paste it from the last one. They forget to change the name.
Do you attend showcases?
I love going to see actors perform and talking to them after. Nobody teaches this in college. I went to one of the top schools in the world for acting. They didn’t teach me anything about the business. They taught me how to audition for stage and be on stage. There was nothing about TV or film. So, I like being helpful to new people. Because I remember what that felt like. Not having any information, so I would have to go find it myself. Some people don’t even do that. They think they’re just good with what they got. So I love going to those things.
What’s the most fulfilling part about what you do?
Calling the client and saying they got the part. I just called a client with a smile on my face and said “Still got your passport?” As a matter of fact, I called her while she was working at her restaurant job. She said how slammed it was and that she couldn’t talk right now. I said “no, no, no…you want to take this call. I’ll call you in ten minutes. Go in the bathroom” That’s the one thing that supersedes any amount of money. Hearing that joy in your client’s voice when you tell them the good news. Especially those first few bookings. When someone is REALLY a development client and you get to tell them they are getting their first network credit, it’s an amazing thrill. You can’t buy that sound in their voice.
So if you share in that excitement when they get it, do you share in the disappointment if they don’t get it?
Of course I care about disappointment. But I also have to be stronger than they’re feeling because they’re in a moment of vulnerability. And I understand that. I need to be someone to lean on. They’re going to go through every scenario in their mind : “What did I do wrong? How could I have changed that?” But there’s the old Chinese philosophy of: get knocked down 7 times, get up 8. And I need to be the person who delivers that message. And if they didn’t get something big, then there’s always the next one. If you’re getting to that space where you’re that far ahead then it just becomes a numbers game. It’s funny to me how people can be dismissive of certain roles. Like: “It’s just a co star. Who cares?” They’re all life changing. You never know what opportunity you can get from a co-star. That pilot may never go, but it may be directed by the next Martin Scorsese who works with the same people over and over again. That may be the life changing opportunity. As Sandy Meisner said: Every moment has a meaning of it’s own.
Do you have any advice for actors?
Yeah, I’m going to give the advice that an Emmy Award winning actor once gave to my class: If you have something to fall back on, you will fall back. If you could do anything else, do that. But if you really believe in your talent and this is all you can do…DO IT. It may not be in front of the TV camera or film cameras, or maybe it’s not with the Directors you’ve always imagined. Or if you enjoy making youtube videos, go make youtube videos. It’s not about the money. Money is never going to make you happier. It may make things easier. Figure out a way to make your career part of what you love. I happen to love actors, I love acting. But I figured out a way to stay involved in my passion without being the actor. So whatever it is, know there are other options besides tv or movie star