So you have an agent, congratulations! You’re already one step ahead of the rest of the many actors still looking for representation. At first, things all seem to go well: they’re excited about you, they say they’re putting you forward for lots of roles, and almost guarantee that work is right around the corner. As far as you’re concerned, things couldn’t be better! And yet, after a few months, their calls dry up. You barely get any auditions and when you do, it’s clear you’re not right for the part. If this sounds familiar, it can mean only one thing: you need a new agent.
With competition so fierce in the acting world, getting an agent can seem like an impossible task in itself, let alone having the luxury of picking the one you want. But the truth is, getting the right acting agent is absolutely fundamental. If you don’t and you choose to stay with them anyway, this will only delay your career. This is a wide-ranging problem in the acting industry and affects many actors, who frequently find themselves stuck in a rut under the wrong representation.
Don’t let yourself fall victim to it, work hard at getting the right acting agent.
How To Get The Right Acting Agent
Leave them with a letter
You’ve probably learned by now, that in this business, reputation is everything. Leaving your current representation in any other circumstances than amicable may haunt your career prospects. As always, it is important to be professional about it. So ring them up and discuss your feelings, after all, they may feel the same about the incompatibility. If that sounds a little difficult, consider sending a formal letter or email. Make sure it’s polite, professional and grateful, whether you feel particularly thankful to them or not. Agents tend to have contacts, and if you don’t want those contacts to write you off as a performer, make sure you bid goodbye with a fond farewell, not a bitter one.
Go solo for a while
Having an agent is not a prerequisite to finding work. There are many other ways you can find it yourself. While you are in between agents, there’s no reason you should stop auditioning and searching for promising projects. After all, taking a breather from representation will give you some time to take stock, get some perspective and understand just what is that you really need from an agent, and the kind of work you want them to find for you. Seeking it out yourself will really give you a taste of what’s available out there, and may even lead to agents approaching you. There are many ways to find auditions without an agent, from using websites such as using Backstage or Spotlight to networking with friends and contacts in the business.
Be aware of your type
Now you’ve made the courageous step to leave your previous representation, you have to be your own superstar agent for a while. Getting yourself the right acting agent starts with knowing exactly what kind of a performer you are, and the sort of work you’re right for. You might already have some sort of idea about the kind of actor you are, but you need to have it completely worked out. Typecasting is a standard method for casting in the industry, and you need to decide how to make yourself the best in your respective field. So are you a bad-guy type? Enhance your look, be exactly what someone would picture when considering the typical bad-guy character. Agents often select actors on the type first, talent second. Work with what you already have and make sure you tick that box first.
Give them a reason to be interested
Before you start making your list of agents to contact, you need to be ready with something to offer them. You can’t just send them an email with your acting CV and headshots: you’ll just be added to the pile and probably fail to receive a reply. You need to have proof that you’re a serious, working actor, and proving this can take many forms. You could send them a link to your updated showreel on IMDb, or an invitation to a play you are starring in: something that shows you are actively working, not just lazily sending out your CV to agents hoping that they’ll do all the hard work.
Do your research
Now you know your type and have managed to find some work on your own, it’s time to start researching agents. Getting the right acting agent can be a long process, but ultimately it may be the difference between a successful career and a failed one, so it is worth investing the time and effort. Use resources such as Backstage’s online directory of managers and agents to find reputable agents for building up your list of possible options. Research further into the agent’s work and the agency they’re affiliated with websites such as Backstage’s Call Sheet. There you will find a list of the kind of actors they represent, as well as get an idea of the size of the agency and whether they are SAG or Equity-franchised or not. Speak to your friends and colleagues in the business, and check out the websites of agencies you are interested in.
Select realistic options
If you are still new to the business, don’t approach a big prestigious agency which is likely to have numerous actors with far more experience than you. Be realistic. Go for small to medium sized agencies and those with a reputation for finding and signing new talent. Getting the right acting agent doesn’t necessarily mean getting the best one in town with all the contacts, it means getting one that will have time to work with you and have experience of working with newcomers.
Start contacting them
Once you have your list, you can then begin selecting your preferred choices and sending them your CV, headshots and cover letter. Some you may hear back from within a few days, others you may not receive any response from. If you know someone who knows an agent you’re interested in, get them to recommend you. It may be just what you need to catch their attention. If it’s been a few weeks and you’ve had no responses, redo your CV, retake your headshots and start sending out submissions again. Persevere and continue sending out emails until you have a good number that has gotten back to you and wish to set up a meeting.
Attend multiple meetings
For each agency that shows an interest in meeting you, you need to research them ahead of the meeting. Find out about them, their clients, how many agents they have, the background of those agents, and even how long they’ve been in the business. At the meeting represent yourself well, but remember, it is just as much an interview for the benefit of the agency as it is for you. They will assess your personality, look and type, but if you’re serious about acting, you’ll want an agency that auditions you, giving you a chance to show your talent. Otherwise, they’ll be putting you forward for auditions based on nothing more than how you look. Pick an agency that you know is on your page and understands the roles you want, but also the roles you’re likely to get in the current climate.
Get ahead of the game
Getting the right kind of acting agent can seem like a daunting task, particularly if you already have representation. Ultimately, however, it is worth the effort and time, especially if you feel like your current agent is not fulfilling your needs.
Brian’s Ultimate Acting Programme provides world-class method acting training and gives students the opportunity to gain real and meaningful insight into the acting industry. At the end of the year, everyone participates in a graduation showcase, hosted at a top London venue frequented by many of the industry’s biggest players. There, students have the opportunity to perform and meet agents and set up promising meetings there and then.
Ready to get serious about your acting career? You can apply here for your chance to get accepted.