Best Talent Agent In Town”
- By Robert Hetzel
is how a growing number of Nashville’s top talent
are describing their agent and advocate, Morgan Graham, of
Graham Entertainment. Chief reasons sited for this sentiment
include the perception (conviction) that Graham sends her
talent out on far more auditions than most other local agencies.
Many local actors and models will also tell you that few
agents are as hardworking, as honest – or as much
fun as Morgan Graham.
Graham came to Nashville in 1994 to pursue a singing career.
Having done a considerable amount of acting and modeling
in high school, in college, and during her first few years
in Nashville, she accepted a position with a well known national
talent agency and school to teach classes, and to scout talent
in Nashville in the fall of 2000.
was during this time that Graham came to realize that
her own ideas about what a talent agency could be (and
should be), were very different from what she was seeing
and experiencing. “I
saw several shortcomings among agencies in Nashville, including
the fact that many agencies seemed to be sending talent
to auditions ill-prepared. I also noticed that there were
number of companies taking advantage of aspiring talent.
These companies would have slick sales campaigns promising
comprehensive training packages and lucrative opportunities
to find work. The reality all too often was that the training
was mediocre and overpriced, and the opportunities to book
jobs were virtually nonexistent.”
With resounding support from several of her friends in the
industry, Morgan Graham launched Graham Entertainment in
the December of 2002. It was not long before a buzz began
to circulate among area talent about the vivacious red head
with sparkle and pizzazz who was training talent in her own
home - and then sending them out on auditions at a rate far
in excess of what most (local talent) would consider normal
or typical. Casting directors, one by one, were hearing about
Morgan Graham and her new agency. They were learning that
they could call on her day or night without apology, and
with high confidence that she would find the talent that
they were looking for.
was not content, however, to wait for the word on the
street to bring business to her door. She made a
of spending a great deal of time at industry functions,
as well as at popular after-hours venues networking with
of Nashville’s entertainment shakers and movers.
It was not unusual for her to return home with fists
cards, and a schedule book full of appointments with
new clients and talent.
Within just over a year of starting her business, Morgan
moved her offices out of her home, and into a Music Row/West
End office address. Less than a year later, she moved again
to larger digs in nearby Marathon Village.
the midst of this growth, several members of Nashville’s
acting and entertainment community took a keen personal interest
in Morgan, her company, and its growth. Among these was Annie
Dorman who (early on) became integrally involved in the teaching
and training functions for Graham Entertainment. Annie, a
former international model, and professional stage, screen
and TV actress, had been teaching acting and modeling in
Nashville for several years. Her credits included Model of
the Year in 1965, and several roles in feature films, and
in television soaps – to name just a few. Several
of her students through the years had gone on to professional
careers in stage, television, and feature films.
and Annie evolved a two and a half hour introductory
training program designed to ensure that all talent knew
how to ace an audition in Nashville. Even industry veterans
were asked to attend the course – if they wanted to
sign with Graham’s agency. More than one of these pros
groused at the idea of taking an “introductory” course,
only to come away later impressed by its simple, yet poignant
content, and re-vitalized by the incredible passion that
Annie Dorman showed for their craft.
cost of the course was a staggeringly affordable $35.
At a time when other agencies and schools seemed to be
making their money by charging well over a $1,000 for mandatory
start-up courses, it was Graham’s contention that she
and her talent could thrive by making their money the old
fashioned way – by booking paying gigs.
believed that there were lots of “starving
artists” (aspiring musicians, and songwriters) who
had plenty of drive and talent (and who would love to get
paid money to be in front of a camera) – but who
lacked the funds typically required to break into the industry.
Graham believed that given the chance, and the right kind
of basic training, these natural born entertainers could,
and would impress Nashville casting directors.
In time, as more and more talent expressed an interest
in signing on with her agency, Graham introduced another
program designed to reduce the cost of getting started
in her industry. This innovation had to do with the all-important “headshot” (close
up talent photo). It is a well known fact that actors and
models must have headshots to get work. It is also a well
known fact that headshots can be very expensive. Professional
headshot photo sessions typically cost several hundred
dollars – minimum.
discounting the importance of getting top-notch professional
headshots, Graham introduced a program which
made it possible for talent to obtain preliminary (“starter”)
headshots at a dramatically reduced cost. For just $50
talent could have headshots made using professional equipment,
an abbreviated photo session, which would pass muster with
local casting directors. The understanding between Graham
and her talent was that the discounted headshots would
be temporary, and would be replaced with quality photos
the talent had logged a few successful bookings, and were
in a better position to afford a full professional photo
Recently, Graham has been able to turn her attention towards
several exciting opportunities which have presented themselves
as a result of her hard work and hard earned reputation.
Chief among these are some newly formed alliances which will
allow Graham Entertainment to become a mainline regional
conduit into the world of national and international high
fashion. Ambitious and exciting regional events are in the
planning stages designed to discover high-end fashion talent,
and launch lucrative fashion careers. Graham plans to be
drawing talent for these campaigns not only from Nashville,
but from bigger cities, and small markets all over the south.
Graham is also in the process of investing heavily in
a brand new website which integrates seamlessly with
talent database. The site is specifically designed for
the talent industry. It will be a boon for casting directors
and talent alike. It will allow talent to update their
resumes and headshots online. It will bring “headshot
pulls,” and “casting calls” out of the
filing cabinet, and into the electronic age. Graham and
her team are extremely excited about these developments,
and the company’s prospects for the future.
asked what she thinks about being considered “The
Best Talent Agent In Town,” Graham suggests that, “The
chemistry between an agent and their talent is critical in
this industry. Ideally, all talent should feel as though
their agent is ‘the best talent agent in town.’ Based
on my high regard for many of the people who (I know) make
those kinds of comments (about me), I could not be more flattered
or more proud – both for myself, and for those that
have worked so hard to bring Graham Entertainment this
far. Regardless of how some of my more ambitious plans
future may unfold, as long as I have talent who truly feel
that way about me and my agency, then I will count my venture
a huge success.”