So, you want to be an actor. Perhaps you’ve taken the plunge and moved to a new city with a bustling acting industry. Maybe you just graduated school, where you majored in the performing arts. You might even have attended your first open call audition. If any of these are true, you will realize very quickly that you will need a talent agent. For the actor, one of the most important relationships you will cultivate is with your talent agent. This is why it is vital that you find an agent that you click with.
Maybe this article should be title, The Actor’s Guide to Finding the RIGHT Agent. For those who don’t know, your talent agent is your personal representative for the industry at large. They are you advocate, cheerleader, and in charge of getting you auditions and negotiating contracts. They are very important in your career as an actor, and this is why it is imperative that you find the right fit for you.
Unfortunately, finding representation is easier said than done! Most agencies have a certain number of clients they will represent at a time, and they may not be looking for new talent. It will take patience, persistence and hard work to find your acting agent. Keep at it! It will be worth it in the long run.
What Does An Acting Agent Do?
Simply put, agents find jobs for the actors they represent. More specifically, it goes like this: casting departments will send out ‘breakdowns’ that list the roles they are looking to cast and what kind of actors they’d like to cast in those roles. It is your agent’s jobs to comb through these breakdowns and keep their eye out for roles that you might be right for. When they find fits, they submit your headshot and resume to casting in hopes that they will like what they see and call you in for an audition. Once you are booked in a role, the agent negotiates contracts and handles setting you up for the job.
A good agent will do so much more. The best agents are hands on and create personal and lasting relationships with their clients. The actor/agent relationship is a symbiotic one. They want you to work, you want you to work, and in order for them to get paid, you have to book a job. You want your agent to care about more than getting their 10% of your paycheck. The best agents are those who are personally invested in your growth as a performer and are in it for the long haul with you. Most actors don’t become celebrities overnight. Your agent should believe in you and be there with you every step of the way, always lending words of encouragement.
Why Do You Need an Agent?
As a young artist just starting out, an agent is a valuable resource. Not only can they help you find work, but they also have established connections with people in the industry. When you are virtually unknown, they are your way into meeting important people and establishing artistic relationships of your own.
Agents also have a lot of knowledge when it comes to the industry and should be there to guide you when you have questions or concerns. It is important to have someone on your side who is educated and really understands the business.
How Do You Find an Agent?
Do your research! You will quickly find that there are many, many talent agencies out there. No two agencies are the same, and it is imperative that you find the best fit for you. At first, the search for an agent can be overwhelming and frustrating. After all, there are so many options and how do you know what is right for you?
To find an agency, start by putting together a list of potential options. Write down what each agency is known for. Do they have a separate commercial department? Are their clients mostly working in theater or tv or film? Do they represent big names and new talent alike? Are they a boutique agency or a big company? Are they bi-coastal or only based in one city? These are all extremely important questions that you need to know the answer to prior to submitting yourself for meetings.
Another option for finding an agent is going through a ‘showcase’. A lot of studios and schools put together agent showcases where the performers present their best work and agents come to watch and then call back actors that they’re interested in.
How Do You Submit to Talent Agencies?
Once you’ve created a list of potential agencies that seem like good fits, it is time to begin submitting! Most agencies have submission pages on their website where you can directly send in your headshot and resume. Other, often boutique agencies, require a mailed in headshot and resume or email. Keep in mind that you may not hear back from many agencies that you submit for. No biggie! You can only have one agent, after all.
What To Expect in an Agent Meeting?
Remember, you are interviewing the agent just as they are interviewing you! This is a symbiotic relationship and it truly goes both ways. You will likely get a gut feeling as to which agency is the right fit, but here are a few things to expect:
— Discussing what you view as your ‘type’ and which roles you’d like to play.
— Where you see yourself fitting into the industry.
— What your strengths and weaknesses are.
— The credits on your resume.
— Who you are as a performer and person.
Make sure you bring your headshot and resume with you to these meetings and have material ready in case they ask to see your talent. I also highly recommend putting together a video compilation of recent work, which you can direct them to if they want to see more.
Be honest at these meetings. Your agent is looking to help you build your career and you are doing yourself no favors by embellishing your work to make you look good. Yes, you want to prove to them that you are worth it to bring on as a client, but impress them with authenticity above all else.
Finally, have questions ready for them. Some good questions to ask at agent meetings are:
—What do you believe my ‘type’ is?
— What kind of roles would you submit me for?
— How large is your agency?
— Do you have a commercial department? Do you submit for tv/film and theater?
— What kind of relationship do you foster with your clients?
These questions will help you get to know them as people, helping you to determine whether or not they would be the right agent for you.
All in All…
A good agent can truly make an enormous difference for the actor. Along with helping you to get auditions and jobs, they are there to guide you, support you, and be your advocate. You will likely know the right agent when you meet them. Don’t rush the process. It’s like dating— it takes a lot of bad dates before you find the one. Similarly, with agent meetings, meeting with many agents will help you to figure out what you do and don’t want in your representation. Don’t jump into signing with an agency just because you feel like you should. Really take your time to find someone who believes in you and is excited to watch you grow. I promise it will be worth it!