Finding an agent, especially when you’re just starting out, can seem like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Young actors are flooded with conflicting advice, and sorting through it all on your own can feel impossible.
If you’re feeling intimidated, it’s good to take a step back and remember that finding an agent doesn’t have to be stressful. This is an exciting step in your career. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re looking for the right fit.
1. Define your goals.
Different agents handle different things. It’s important to know how you want to be represented going in. Do you want to do film and television acting, voiceover or a combination of both? Can you work as a local hire in multiple cities?
Knowing what you want will help you find the right fit. The better you know yourself (what’s your type, what training and experience do you have), the better you’ll be able to represent yourself in an interview with a potential agent.
2. Do your research.
Before submitting, and certainly before signing, make sure to thoroughly vet any potential agent’s history. Looking at their roster can help give you an idea of what types they represent. If they’re already overloaded with actors who match your type, you may not get as much focus.
If you recognize local actors on their rosters as people who are booking consistently, that’s a good sign. If you’re able, reach out to anyone you might know and get a first-hand account of their experience.
3. Big or small?
It’s very tempting to go straight for the biggest names in the city. They have the recognition and connections! But when you’re just starting out, it can be easy to slip through the cracks. Consider if a smaller boutique agency might be a good first step. There are advantages to a more personal touch in the beginning.
4. Look out for red flags.
There are scams aplenty in this business, and forewarned is forearmed. Classic red flags are asking you for money up front, or insisting you use a lot of “in house” services (headshots, for example).
Knowing industry standards for percentages can also help you stay away from scammers. If they’re asking for significantly more than 20% on union gigs and 10% on non-union gigs, it’s worth a second look. Trust your gut and get a second pair of eyes on any contract before you sign.
5. Come prepared.
Remember that you are the other half of the team, and you have to pull your weight. Before submitting to an agent, you should have headshots and resumes updated, with hard copies on hand and anything else you might have (reel, website, etc.) easily accessible. Be ready to talk about the kind of roles you’re best suited for and the kind of representation you’re looking for. Remember, first impressions mean a lot.
6. References go a long way.
Submitting blindly through an agent’s website is a toss-up as to whether or not you’ll get seen, especially in a saturated market (LA, Atlanta, New York, etc.). Having a connection with someone on the roster who can recommend you can help, but that can be hard for actors just starting out.
If you’re new to a market, start by making connections with the local acting community. Take workshops and go to meet-and-greets where the agent or casting professionals might be so they can actually see your face. The more involved you are in your community, the better you’ll be able to get a read on which agencies might be taking on new people.
7. Nothing is set in stone.
Remember, signing with an agent is not a life sentence. You want to honor your contracts, but if you’re finding that your agency isn’t the right fit, you don’t have to stay with them. Find someone that communicates well, knows your work and how to market you, and can get you in the doors you need. You want to feel like a team.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t sign with your dream agent right away. This is just one step in the actor’s journey, and chances are you will revisit it time and again. Be patient, stay safe, and advocate for your needs.
Bonus tip: Don’t forget to opt into Casting Networks’ Talent Scout® feature, where Premium members can get connected with agents and managers to help advance their careers
Are you looking for representation? Sign up or log in to Casting Networks and opt in to Talent Scout today!
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