Published on September 15th, 2015 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: Emilio Salituro
Since making the transition from Vancouver actor to Vancouver talent agent almost 9 years ago, Emilio Salituro has become one of the city’s most respected agents with his clients at Lucas Talent running the gamut from film to television to commercials.
With the rise of film and television productions in Vancouver, we caught up with Emilio Salituro to get his take on the state of the industry, what he looks for in potential acting clients, and what it’s like to be a talent agent in Vancouver.
Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about you and what you do?
First of all, I want to say thanks to Biz Books for asking me to be interviewed. I think it’s so important for actors to hear about different facets of the industry. It makes them not only a more-rounded professional but in my opinion a better artist, when they know and trust what is going on around them.
As for myself, I started off as an actor. I was classically-trained, and was in full time acting programs for 6 years before I even attempted to delve into the professional world of acting. I feel so fortunate that I was involved in well-rounded acting programs. Our days would consist of Movement, Voice, Theatre and Film History and, of course Acting and Scene Study. This is where I learned the principals of Meisner, Method, Grotowski and clown. Then our evenings would be rehearsals for the plays we were in.
After those 6 years, I immersed myself in the crazy and exhilarating Vancouver Film industry and worked as a professional actor for about 11 years. It was always a rough slog as an artist so I tried to supplement my acting career with teaching, producing and directing. I even decided that I wanted to be a restaurateur and opened a small Italian restaurant in the Lower Mainland.
One day my agent approached me and asked if I was interested in taking an agent’s position in the office. She said that I could try it out for 6 months and if I didn’t like it, I could always go back to acting. Now after almost 9 years I am an agent with Lucas Talent and am still loving every minute of it.
What is a typical day like for you as an agent?
That’s the great thing about being an agent. I really don’t think I have a typical day. We are kind of on the clock 24/7. Yeah sure, I wake up in the morning, do my East Coast breakdowns, head in the office, work on more breakdowns, email my pushes, inform my clients of auditions, do more breakdowns, negotiate contracts, announce bookings, call out more auditions and then go home and hopefully do more breakdowns. In the between time, I take meetings with my clients, potential new clients and check out a film or a play every once in a while. Did I also mention that we do breakdowns?
Even though that’s what we do, it does change every day and the excitement of what might walk in the door, or who gets a booking on what, always changes and inspires me to keep on going.
What are the most important qualities that a successful agent needs to have?
There are a lot of qualities I think agents need – organization, drive, understanding of the business, an eye for talent, approachability – but a really important factor that a lot of agents forget about is trust. It’s not only a trust in your client that they are going to do a great job when they audition, but a trust in the Casting Directors, Directors, Writers and Producers for the choices they make as well. We are all professionals and people don’t get into a position of trust for no reason!
What are the factors in deciding which actors are best-suited to audition opportunities that you come across?
The big thing for me is – does my actor/client have the essence of what the breakdown is looking for? Essence is hard to describe, but when you get to know your clients very well, you will read a breakdown and even before you’re finished, you will already have an image in your head of your actor playing that role.
How can an actor discover whether they are better-suited to film, television, theatre or commercial roles?
In my experiences if you can act, you can act. It doesn’t matter whether it is in Film, TV or theatre. Commercials are another beast entirely and so “look dependent”, that a lot of people off the street can be in commercials. The important thing the actor needs to think about is what the story is and what medium they are acting in and adjust for that type of screen/stage.
What was the moment when you decided that you wanted to be an agent?
When I was offered the position, I met with a lot of people in the industry. I was just picking up steam as an actor and for my last 2 years was making a living as an actor without having to have a day job. I met with other agents, actors and some casting directors and everybody told me not to do it! That’s when I decided that I should do it, and more importantly wanted to do it!
What do you look for in an actor?
Well we all look for the obvious – talent, a marketable look and professional work ethic. Where I differ – and this might be my traditional Italian upbringing – is that I really look for people that I could see as part of my extended family! I have this very protective big brother attitude with my clients. Sure, behind closed doors we might argue and disagree, but in the open and in public, they can do no wrong and I go to bat for them 100%. I should be their first line of defense.
What is your opinion on the current state of the film and television industry in Canada?
I love it! My only disappointment is that we don’t produce enough local productions that can compete on the international level. Take a look at projects like Motive. Here’s a great show that takes place in Vancouver about Vancouver and also airs in the US. Toronto did the same thing with Flashpoint. We need more productions like this so that we can really be looked upon as a production city and not just a service industry. I’m also really looking forward to see what local producer Chris Haddock and the CBC have in store for us with their new project Romeo Section. Other than that, I’m very happy with the Film and TV industry here in Canada, especially BC. We have a lot of great American projects being shot here and we have the talent and crews to compete with any other city in the world!
What books would you suggest that actors read to better understand the actor-agent dynamic?
There was this one book that I read as an actor a long time ago. It might be a bit out of date now, but it gave me a great insight into the mind of an agent and probably unintentionally helped me to decide to become the agent I am today. It was called From Agent to Actor by Edgar Small. It was pretty much Edgar’s story about how he started as an actor, became a producer and then went on to become an Agent. Great read!
The other one that every actor should have in their library is Audition by Michael Shurtleff. There’s a very informative section in the book about agents, but more importantly it will make you a better at auditions. That will always please your agent!
Is there any advice you would like to quickly give an actor or a person trying to get into this business?
Definitely. As an actor you will never stop learning! Whenever you are not on set or on stage, you should be training – in class, at home or on the street. Your education as an actor is everywhere. Once you decide to become part of this crazy industry you should never watch a performance the same way again. You must always be analyzing why you liked or didn’t like a performance. You should ask yourself questions all the time. An actor is not a performer, they are student of reality and truth and if they can take their ego out of the situation and really concentrate on the story of the script, they will be able to really grow as the character. Remember – story is King!
Where can people find out more about you?
But really you don’t need to find out about me, you should find out more about my clients, so if you have an IMDB Pro account go to my IMDB page and check out my clients!
Our thanks to Emilio Salituro for speaking with us!