The Object of Representation

Two posts in one day? Oh, you know I’m mad when that happens.

The more I look into the ditching of Gina Carano by her talent agency, UTA (henceforth to be called UTI because it’s about as useful as one, apparently), the angrier I become. Jeebus. At this rate I’m going to be Bruce Banner (not the lame one) soon.

I’ve dealt with agents in the past. It shocks people to discover this, but I actually have had two literary agents represent me at two different points in my career. One specifically worked with foreign rights and got one of my works published in Japan. The other floundered the same series here in the US, and subsequently was fired for his inability to market the series to publishers properly. I don’t blame him, and both professionally and personally we’re okay to this day.

However, my understanding of how a talent agency in Hollywood works like this — you sign with an agency, they get a cut of any money you make (works the same in the literary world), and they try to get you engagements where you get paid, be it voice acting, movie roles, speaking engagements, or anything else where the actor/actress gets paid. One of those perks of a talent agency is being the first to know when a casting call goes out for a certain role or part. This is why actors and actresses want a powerful agency in their corner. When the casting call goes out, every single time the big, powerful agency will be the first to know and have a folder of people they represent who resemble the casting requirements. That’s how it works for the F-list actors, those who typically don’t get requested by a casting director for a big budget film (unless you’re a sleazeball like the director of the movie “The Brown Bunny”, who cast one actress in particular just so he could sleep with her… the rumor goes).

Now, Gina Carano is not an F-list actress by far. Granted, she is the sort who will be type-cast on a regular basis, but lots of actors and actresses are type-cast. Type casting, for those who don’t know, is the process of casting an actor or actress who acts or looks a certain way every single time because of a role they’ve played in the past. For example, Michael Cera is cast as the same person in every movie he’s in. Is he upset about it? Who knows. It’s made him (and his talent agency) a lot of money over the years, though. Gina Carano is cast in a similar manner, except when you need a badass woman who could legitimately kick your ass, it’s either her or Ronda Rousey you’re going to call. I love Geena Davis but she is not someone I think could flatten me with a single punch (sorry Geena).

So United Talent Agency exists to get their client cast, and in exchange to get paid when they get cast in something big. I don’t know about you, but getting cast in anything Star Wars is PRETTY FUCKING BIG. It’s the sort of casting which gets people talking about your client. This is like printing money at this point. UTI wants their actress to be on screen even more, but they also want their public image to be clean… except that they really don’t (as I mentioned in the previous post, they didn’t give two shits about Johnny Depp’s various run-ins and his legal woes). It’s one of those hypocritical things about Hollywood which irritates me. Women are held to this impossibly high standards, and men are allowed to do just about whatever they want. Harvey Weinstein was lauded FOR YEARS by every person in Hollywood as a fucking saint while he was busy raping young actresses who were trying to break into the industry, and everyone knew about it. Casting couches isn’t some joke script people slide into porn movies. Remember, every fable throughout time has a basis in truth and history.

So when Ms. Carano stepped out of line and was dropped by LucasFilms, UTI backed up their client and… oh wait, no, they dropped her faster than a freshman’s GPA after their first four week kegger in college. However, no such repercussions came about when Johnny Depp was accused of beating the shit out of his then-wife, Amber Heard. I wonder why? Could it be because Depp has a history of supporting the right causes? Of course, cursory research shows that even a talent agency has their limits… eventually. It took Depp firing and later suing TMG for them even think about speaking ill of him (UTI currently represents Depp, by the way).

One of the things which makes me laugh about all of this is the fact that at the end of the day, Ms. Carano will be fine. Sure, handfuls of Twitterati are screaming for blood, but the people who actually PAY for stuff like DisneyPlus are cancelling their subscriptions. And that’s millions of people paying $6.99 a month ($7.99 a month starting March 2021), or $69.99 ($79.99) a year. Cursory math shows that if half the populace who like Gina Carano and have a DisneyPlus subscription cancel, that’s roughly 48 million people (currently DisneyPlus has 94.9 million subscribers) gone. 48 million by $6.99 equals $335.5 million ($383.5 million after March 2021). For a streaming company with the budget that DisneyPlus has, that’s a huge hit that the investors will notice come the Q2 2021 earnings report. This will not make Disney investors happy.

But back to UTI… there really isn’t a way to punish them outside of a mass exodus of clients, which — given how insular and incestuous Hollywood is — isn’t going to happen. However, people typically voice their opinions with their wallets. But how do you let a talent brokerage firm like UTI know you’re displeased by their antics? Outside of boycotting every single movie in Hollywood, you can’t…

…or can you?

One thought on “The Object of Representation

  1. I think what you said here about how men and women are held to different standards is spot-on. I don’t know much about Gina Carano. But I know that Johnny Depp’s legal troubles should’ve definitely caused him more trouble than anything Ms. Carano could’ve ever said. Because Depp’s actions, from what we know of them via his ex-wife Amber Heard, have been atrocious…and actions speak louder than words. (I thought everyone knew that.)

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