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Why you should always have a lawyer review your acting contract

Los Angeles is filled with aspiring actors. Everyone’s looking for their big break to launch their career. Unfortunately, this creates an unequal situation between actors and production companies, in which an actor may be so eager to land a role, they’ll sign whatever agreements are handed to them—without giving it much thought.

However, proceeding in this way opens actors up to vulnerability and the possibility of being exploited. To make it as an actor in LA, you don’t have to become an expert in contractual legalese. You should, however, consult with an entertainment attorney before you sign any new deal.

For example, if you’ve been offered a role on a television show, an entertainment lawyer would want to look over your contract and negotiate reasonable terms on your behalf. Particular points of interest include:

  • Pilot option: Has the producer defined a reasonable period of time within which commit to hiring you, following your audition?
  • Series option: If the show is picked up as a series, what are the terms of your employment for the first and successive seasons? Are you prohibited from acting in other productions during your employment?
  • Compensation: Are the terms of your compensation reasonable? Your attorney will evaluate your pay for the pilot, your pay for the first season—if the show gets picked up—and appropriate pay increases for any seasons that follow.
  • Credit: Where in the credits will you appear, and how will you be listed?

Having an entertainment attorney look over any legal document you’re presented with is an important way to make sure your interests are protected—verifying that your new role will provide you with everything you deserve.

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