Well, OK perhaps actually becoming an attorney is a bit much; however reading and rereading your UNsigned contracts is an absolute MUST. I’m not sure what types of contracts are presented to actors; however, there are extremely lengthy and detailed ones for hosts, in my experience.
It is imperative that you personally familiarize yourself with a contract that is being presented to you. After all, it is what you are agreeing to. Entrusting the task of negotiating a contract exclusively to your agent is NOT a smart thing. Think about it, people can make mistakes, misread things and simply overlook issues based on other things going on in their life, so the more eyes on the legal lingo, the better. I’m not saying that your agent and even attorney aren’t wonderfully intelligent; however, I AM saying that it’s your name on the dotted line and if a clause says one thing when it should say something else, it’s your ass that’s in the jam. Besides, don’t you want to be an informed talent?
If you don’t understand a phrase such as “hold harmless” or are unclear on the meaning of “in aggregate” then ask, Google or worst case hire somebody (an entertainment attorney, please!) to help you. It won’t be long before you start understanding legal lingo and will be making your own points and cross-outs to ensure the contract states what you have verbally agreed upon.
In the infamous words of my husband, Marty Metro, “Good luck and be yourself!”