‘How do I find an acting agent?’ is one of the questions I get asked most by my students. As an aspiring actor, you probably know that it takes more than just talent, skills and determination to succeed in the industry. Once you’ve built up your career, finding an acting agent is the next step towards your success. Although it’s true that not every actor has an agent, representation makes the life of an actor much easier. Not only do they do a lot of the the leg-work in finding you suitable auditions, but casting directors and industry-insiders will take you much more seriously if you have an agent. But how exactly do you find an agent that is right for you, and are they worth the cost?
What an acting agent does for an actor
An acting agent is a crucial part of the business-side of the acting industry. They’ll know the industry inside and out and have key contacts with casting directors that you otherwise may not be able to reach. As well as connecting you with the right people, they’ll be able to advise you throughout your career and steer you on the road to success.
Having an agent also enables you to demonstrate your professionalism and show industry leaders that you have someone willing to represent you – someone who is convinced of your skill set and confident of your acting ability. Directors and casting directors rely on credible agents to provide them with the right candidates for auditions. A good agent will also be able to secure the best payment deal for the actor.
How to find an acting agent
Finding the best agent for you can be challenging, but the following steps will help you along the way.
First thing’s first. There’s a lot of different acting agencies out there. These range from the large and prestigious, representing a lot of the big names, to the smaller agencies who only have a handful of clients. Finding the right type of agency for you is key to kicking off the whole process.
So how do you do it?
The first step is to visit a prospective agents’ website and browse their client portfolio to see who they represent. If they don’t have many actors similar to you and your skills, chances are they’ll be more interested in you. Agents love to have a variety of actors on their books. Try to put yourself in the agent’s shoes and envision what they might be looking for and whether you fit into that description.
How To Approach Acting Agents
Contacting an agent for the first time requires a thorough approach on your part. Remember, the agent is most probably being approached by actors constantly, so you need to think what you can do to get their attention. When agents look at taking on new clients, they’ll need to think about whether they can market you to the industry. It’s up to you to tell them why they need you and what you can do for them.
Find out what the agent’s preferred method of contact is and make initial contact. Remember to keep your letter brief and interesting – your role history, your availability, your ‘castability’, how marketable you are and what you’re currently working on. Always include a professional and up to date headshot – and make sure it’s a good one!
In order to get noticed by an agent, you need to grab and hold their attention. This is the time to get creative – invite them to one of your performances, send them a clip of your work, include a link to a Youtube video, send them your showreel or if you’re just starting out, think of another way to showcase your creative side and what you’re capable of. This will make you stand out from the crowd and show the agent how committed to the trade you really are.
You’ll increase your chances of a response if you contact as many agencies as possible. Leave about two weeks of breathing space before sending another email. You don’t want to seem too pushy, so a brief follow-up to your submission needs to be short, concise and charming. The more time you spend interacting with the agent, the more likely you’ll establish a rapport, so keep the dialogue going.
If you don’t hear back from the agent you had your heart set on, or you didn’t get the response you were hoping for, don’t take it personally. It won’t be because they don’t like you, it’s more likely that they have a lot of actors similar to you that they already represent. Don’t get disheartened and don’t give up.
The same goes if it’s taking a while to arrange the initial meeting. Acting agents are very busy people, so take the in-between time as an opportunity to work hard, focus on the positives and better yourself – it’ll work in your favour when you do eventually land the right agent.
The hardest part of finding an acting agent is getting an initial interview. So once you’ve got to this point, preparation is key. Think about your personal presentation – dress with confidence and impress your future agent. Prepare some answers for questions that an agent is likely to ask you and be sure to have some questions of your own. As much as you want the agent to take you on, you have to be sure that the agency is trusted and reputable, and will work in your favour.
This is another opportunity to get creative and really showcase your talent. Invite the agent to a show you’re performing in, if you’ve not got enough material for a complete showreel yet, take a DVD of a performance you’re proud of or tell them about a future performance you’ve landed.
Last but not least, remember to be yourself and let your personality come through.
What happens next?
When you’ve found an acting agent, you’re in a prime position to find roles that suit you as an actor. However, as with everything, this may take some time. With new clients, the agent will generally start to set up meetings with directors and producers to start to introduce you to their contacts. When suitable roles come up you’ll then be sent to auditions. The time it takes is unpredictable, but within the year you should see the process progressing and be getting regular auditions.
The process of finding an acting agent isn’t easy, but with commitment, creativity and hard work you’re certainly on the right path. If you really want to be in with the best possible chance of finding an acting agent then you need to make sure your acting ability is as good as it possibly can be. Here at the Brian Timoney Actors’ Studio we offer a range of courses to help you on your way to achieving acting excellence, including our 3 day Introduction to Method Acting Bootcamp and our Ultimate Acting Programme.