The right agent can make all the difference when it comes to your acting career. How can you be sure that you’ve found the right representation?
Actors, especially new actors, often overlook the fact that your agent ultimately becomes your business partner, and like any other small business owner, you need to find someone who will serve your brand the best. Every actor wants to be with the “top” agency in town. They want to know which agent’s actors work the most, who is well connected and has all the leads from their favourite shows, or who has the best reputation etc. While all these things will factor into the equation, actors must take into account a number of their own circumstances into account as well.
#1. Are they excited about you?
This is by far the most important quality to have in your agent, after all, they are the ones fighting to get you “in the room” and seen by Casting Directors. Agency interviews are a lot like speed dating, so it’s often best to meet with as many agents as possible to see who’s on the same wavelength as you in terms of where you are presently at and where you want your career to go. Maybe they like your work, but they’re not sure about your look. They may ask if you are willing to drop a few pounds, and if you are willing to do so to please that agent, good for you. However, if that’s not something that you want for your brand, find someone who loves the whole package as is.
#2. Do they understand your type?
When meeting an agent, you as an actor need to be aware what archetypes you fit in the city. Are you the High School Quarterback or Chess Captain? Cheerleader or Librarian? Maybe you can suggest an actor that you are similar to. This is great to be up front about because it shows that you’ve done your homework and you have a vision for the types of roles casting will see you for. In saying this however, you must be honest with yourself. As much as we may want to, we can’t all be Tom Hardy or Charlize Theron, but that’s okay, because the industry already has them as well as hundreds of other actors trying to be them. So, the question is, what do YOU bring to the table that our industry needs, and more importantly, what can you knock out of the park in the audition room?
The best agent for you will have a similar vision in mind. It should be a collaborative relationship as you gain more skills as an actor, after all, it is a visual medium and they should see you as casting sees you. If they throw ideas out there like “You have a great look for mobster roles. Would you be willing to grow a beard?” At the end of the day you are the one walking into that room, and if those roles don’t sit well with you, then you need an agent that will send you out for ones that will.
#3. Do they have anyone else like you?
Agents can have any number of clients, depending on the size of the agency. You can research the agent and their current roster with IMDB Pro (you should have an account anyway so that you can have a more complete profile on IMDB). Have a look at their clients. How many clients do they have? Are they working? And most importantly, do they have anyone like you?
There are only so many hours in the day, and an agent can only focus on so many people at once. If they already have someone in your category (age, type, look etc.) you may find yourself fighting for your agent’s attention. Casting only takes so many submissions per role, and if that person has been with them for some time, they’ll likely take precedence over you. It’s best to do your homework beforehand and avoid this issue all together.
#4. Can you talk to them?
Like I said before, your agent is your business partner, and it’s key to have a good sense of communication. No one wants to be the actor that’s constantly nagging their agent or overflowing their inbox with questions and complaints (you may find yourself agentless in that case). However, this is YOUR career and you need to be comfortable sitting down and explaining what you need from them.
#5. What do other actors have to say about them?
Ask around to see what kind of experiences other actors have had with the agents you’re considering. They’ll be able to help you gage the relationships that agent has with different casting directors and how well they communicate with their clients.
#6. Trust your instincts.
Regardless of what anyone else says, you know YOU best and you’re the only person who can truly decide which route is best for you. At the end of the day, you need to be happy with the decision you’ve made for your career. GO WITH YOUR GUT. If acting class has taught you anything, it’s to follow your instincts.