Though having an agent isn’t an essential part of securing work as an actor it is recommended for several reasons. Having good representation is a sign of professionalism and many casting directors will only work with actors who have an agent, and for good reason.
A good agent builds relationships with clients and can raise your profile whilst protecting you from jobs that are not in your best interests. Yes, they are the middle-man and they will take a cut from your earnings but having an agent will certainly improve your chances of regular work. So how do you get one?
1. Do your research
Before you start firing out enquiries to every agent in your area you should spend some time researching which agents best suit your talents and goals.
Some agents specialise in theatre work whilst others only work for advertising. Some are more focused on child actors with others covering stand-up comedians. Others will be a multi-discipline agency and cover all areas of an actor’s potential.
Ask other actors, drama students or course tutors who they use and get recommendations. Above all, make sure that the agents that you approach are reputable and have a good standing in their field.
2. Be prepared
Once you’ve drawn up your list of potential agents you will need to make sure you are well prepared before making that important first contact.
Remember that agents are in a buyers market with more enquiries from actors than they can possibly take on – most of which are made by underprepared amateurs – so it’s essential that your approach is professional to give you the best chance of standing out for the right reasons.
- Firstly, make sure that you have a well structured and professionally prepared CV/resume with all of your acting credits and training detailed. Don’t forget to include those student films, plays and independent work. If you have attended acting classes, drama school or other relevant training then make sure this is also well detailed.
- You should also ensure that you have some good headshots to accompany your CV. You don’t have to spend a fortune but you will need a couple of different styles (commercial and theatrical) in both black and white and colour.
- It is essential that you can demonstrate your ability to work in the country you are in and you should have the appropriate membership to Equity and (if applicable) the relevant permits.
- You might also want to consider a membership to Spotlight.
- Though not essential you should also have a demo reel (also called a showreel) of some of your work. Essentially this is a showcase of your work and should only be of the best quality; if you don’t have well-filmed examples of your work then it is not worth it.
- Lastly, have an audition piece prepared in advance. If you get that call to attend an interview then you will need to show you are ready.
It’s not recommended that you send out your submissions to every agent you have found but, instead, send out enquiries to the top twenty.
It can take a few weeks to hear from an agent who is interested in you so patience is key but if you haven’t heard back with three weeks send out the next tranche of submissions.
4. The meeting
If you are lucky enough to get a call back from an agent then make sure you are clear about when and where to meet them; being late or disorganised is a sure fire way to getting your first black mark.
Dress smart but casual; you don’t need to wear formal wear but you should always look clean and presentable. They need to know that they can send you to auditions representing their company and for you to reflect well on them.
If required, have your audition monologue well prepared. Agents will want to know more about you personally and the experience that you have; in turn, ask them about the types of actor they represent and the clients they provide talent for.
Remember that you will need to work with this agent so you should be able to feel comfortable with them.
5. Important advice
Whatever you do, never pay an agent any upfront fees; professional agencies will not ask you to pay for anything in advance whether it’s a contract or sign-up fee, it is against union policy and should signal an end to the meeting.
It is not uncommon though for agents to offer a contract during the meeting; you would be well advised to ask for the time to consider the contract and that you will come back to them in due course.
This gives you time to consider any other offers you have but also to read the small-print. However flattering it’s best not to jump on the first offer you receive. Having said that, you should be polite and give a reasonable deadline for coming back to the agent; it doesn’t do to irritate agents as the industry is a small one and your reputation is important to guarantee future work.
6. Back to the drawing board
If you don’t get any response from either your first or second round of submissions, then do not let it get you down.
It could be that the timing was wrong, many agents have ever-changing requirements for their books so re-applying is recommended; however, it may be that you need to re-do your headshots and tweak your CV a little. Get colleagues, friends and other professionals to look at your material and take their feedback on board.
7. Stay Focused
Whatever you do whilst you are waiting for a response, keep working. Develop your skills wherever you can to improve your art and to boost your CV. Take unpaid work if you can to broaden your resume and don’t forget to include any filmed work on your showreel.