When actors look for talent agents, one of the big mistakes they make is not being prepared on many counts when they get the meeting. Go in with a few questions in mind, but don’t put the talent agent on the spot or they won’t like you. Here are five good questions you can ask them, but in Hollywood, it is important to schmooze at the same time.
You’ll find that many agents and managers, and really producers, too, don’t like to be confronted. So early on in your career, take it easy, but still try to get the answers to these questions, or something along these lines.
1. What age range do you see me being right for?
Before you approach actors agents for your film and television career, you should already have a good sense of what you think your age range is by about a 5 year span, or 10 years if you’re over 38. In fact, you should know this before you take your headshots so you can get pictures that are well-suited to this. You and your mom and dad may not be the best judges of what your age range is, so if possible find an industry professional to discuss it with or work with a career coach on it to see how to best position you.
As a film and TV actor, remember your age range will be more limited than it is in the theatre. And in fact, the agent may ask you, so be sure that you have a good sense of it before you go in. This will make you look more professional to the agents and management that you may be interviewing or auditioning for.
2. What kind of roles will you submit me for?
As with the above question, make sure you know what your casting is and that your headshots reflect the kinds of roles you would be right for. Then in the meeting where you are vying for the attention of that particular agent at the agency, you can ask them what they think. If you guys aren’t in synch, then you need to speak to the talent agent about that and see if you can come to an agreement, or you may be sent on auditions and casting calls that you feel completely out of place on.
It’s great to get as many auditions for acting as you can, but if you feel you’re not even the right type, it will be depressing and you’ll end up being upset that you wasted your time. Ward this off by discussing the kinds of auditions with the actors agent when you first meet with them.
3. How do you like me to keep in touch with you?
You will find that many of the agents for your acting career, at least early on, don’t want to hear from you very often. Unfortunately, much of the time, actors bug their agents and don’t have much to say when they do call and that is what annoys the talent agents and makes them not want to hear from the actors they represent. It’s not personal, but too many actors waste their time trying to chit-chat and that is no good.
When you get a meeting with an agent at one of the agencies, be sure to ask how they want you to keep in touch with them. Whatever you do, don’t call before 2:00 pm because they are submitting you for the auditions and casting calls that you want to get. If you call during the heat of that, they will think you are clueless.
In your meeting, ask how to keep in touch. Then, if they say, don’t call me, I’ll call you, if you are new to acting, then don’t worry about it and don’t call them very often. But as you get more experienced, then you can get creative and come up with good reasons to call your talent agent. If you have a lot of experience and your talent agents says that, then dump them before they even try to sign you. Early on, just be glad you’re getting something. If you’re a working actor, then don’t waste your time with a crappy talent agent who won’t get you any good auditions anyway. Consider finding acting management or another good theatrical agent – but don’t settle – or just stay with your agent or manager you’re with for the time being.
4. How do you feel about me promoting myself with your agency name on my submissions?
You would think that any agent at any agency would be happy that their acting talent is trying to do something for their careers, but funny enough, it’s not always that way. Agents for acting and acting management can be odd – sometimes they are controlling and don’t want you to put their name on things they don’t authorize. And sometimes, if you’re new, they may be trying to control their “brand,” and wanting to make sure they are seen in the right way that they want to be seen.
Just as an actor has a “brand,” so does an agency as do personal managers. Bottomline, be sure you ask them how they feel about it.
5. As agents helping actors in their acting careers, what do you typically do to help get auditions for a client that you believe in?
This one might be a bit confronting for an agent, so be careful when you ask it. The main thing that you are trying to find out is if they only submit your picture to the casting directors for auditions or if they pick up the phone and call to pitch you. Most of the time, the smaller agency will submit their acting talent, but not make the calls. As a starting out actor, that is okay. But if you have Co-Star and higher credits and you want to be film talent, you will need a talent agent who will pick up the phone and pitch you to Hollywood like you deserve to be pitched.
To be sure that the agents you consider for your acting career are going to be right for you, then make sure that that agent and their agency can give you the answer to these questions – or at least four out of the five and any others that are important to you.
Meanwhile, get ready to go for it!