How to Get an Acting Agent
Good acting agents jumpstart actors' careers. Bad acting agents can be a stumbling block to success.
Here you'll find information on how to submit and get noticed by acting agencies, how to prepare for interviews with agents and talent managers and how to find the right agent for you. But first, watch this quick video on getting an acting agent...
Submit or get noticed by acting agents
Your first goal is to get called in to interview at an acting agency. An agent has to be intrigued enough by your picture and resume or impressed enough by a performance he saw you in to want to meet you.
Here's a list of things you can do to find an agent:
1) Do a mailing.
Mailing submissions to acting agencies is expensive and can be disappointing but sometimes works. If you're starting out, you should definitely do at least one mass mailing to bank on beginner's luck. After that, you can do targeted mailings to acting agencies who are looking for your type. To find agents, get Call Sheet by Backstage (or use Call Sheet Online) and mail out your headshot and resume with a good cover letter to all the acting agencies in your area accepting actor submissions. Later, follow-up with actor postcards (a 4x6 postcard with your actor photo) to keep in touch and share career updates.
Don't cold call agents' offices looking for acting representation and don't stop by a talent agency without an appointment. Dropping off your headshot and resume in person does not increase your chances of being considered by a given agent!
2) Participate in scene nights.
Also known as an industry showcase, this is when a group of actors appear in a series of scenes in front of invited professionals such as casting directors, directors, producers and agents. Make sure you choose a scene that displays your type and strengths as an actor. Scene nights are a great way to start out your acting career, so try to choose an acting school that includes a good industry showcase for graduating students. You can also enroll in a class that culminates in a scene night or audition for a showcase production organized by fellow actors.
3) Invite talent managers and agents to see you perform.
You don't need an agent to start auditioning. You can attend open calls and use online casting services, as well as trade papers like Backstage, to find auditions. Most actors get their first few acting jobs on their own without the help of an agent. You can also produce your own show with a couple of other actors. Once you have a strong role in a good production, mail flyers or postcards to acting agents inviting them to come see your work (make sure to mention complimentary tickets will be waiting for them and their guests at the box office). Some agents actually prefer to go see a full production rather than scene nights. Make sure you also invite agents to screenings of films you were in.
Did you book the role of your life? Make sure agents don't miss it! Hire a publicist who can get agents to come see you perform. Some publicists will work on a one show / one fee basis. If you're further along in your career, you may want to hire a publicist year round.
Network when you study. Acting teachers and coaches can help you find an agent. Fellow actors can introduce you to their agent. Also network when you get an acting job. Producers and directors can get you a referral with an acting agency. A recommendation from a casting director will often get you a meeting with an agent. Of course, only ask from those who are familiar with your work and think highly of you as an actor.
Your other acting representatives can also help you get an agent. Often, a talent manager will help a client secure meetings with acting agencies. Also, if you have a print or commercial agent, ask them if you can meet with the legit branch of the agency.
5) Take agent workshops.
A lot of agents for actors give master classes, workshops and lectures. This is an opportunity for them to see your work and for you to get feedback. Since these classes are often expensive, do your research beforehand and try to concentrate on agents who are looking for your type.
Even if it's just a day a week, interning at an actor agency or talent manager's office is a fantastic way to build relationships and learn about the business of acting. Ask your acting school if they can help you find an internship or browse through entertainment job listings.
Got the call? Acting agents want to meet you? Great! Now it's time to prepare for your interview.
Note: You can follow all the steps above to find a manager. It's the same process as finding agent. To find out more about the differences between talent managers and agents, click here. A lot of the tips below also apply for kids talent agencies, but read our kids talent agencies 101 for more help.
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