3 Critical Tips For Getting An Agent For Acting

Getting an agent for acting is an essential factor to becoming a professional actor. Sometimes this can seem like a monumental task because the most reputable actor agencies are swarmed by up and coming actors wanting to be represented by them. So is there anything you can do to increase your chances? Of course there is. But like any other dream, it takes time, patience, and a lot of hard work.

Here are a few tips that will make it easier to find an actor agency.

1. Always continue to take acting classes and employ an acting coach.

This has two benefits. One it will keep you from getting rusty and two you can get referrals from your teachers or coaches. When you go to find an agent for acting, they agent will want to be confident that you know how to act. If you’ve taken acting classes, that will help them have confidence in you.

2. Always keep your headshots up to date. Make sure they are professional, they look like you, and they suggest what your casting is.

Headshots are your first impression on acting agencies, so they have to be professional. You may have to spend a few hundred dollars to find a professional photographer, but the investment will be worth it.

3. Your credits are the next most important tool for landing an acting agent, so make sure your resume shows what you’ve done in the best light and that your cover letter to the agent highlights your credits in the best way possible.

Since you will typically send the talent agent your cover letter and resume before meeting with them, these materials will be their first impression of you. Make sure it is professional and truly shows the type of person you are. There are industry professionals such as Smart Girls Productions who can help write a great cover letter to pitch you. If you are not confident, you can hire them or someone like them to help write a great resume and cover letter for you.

Just remember that in show-biz, you get to make one impression on an agent for acting. Don’t let the first be your last. Make sure to keep learning, present professional headshots, make your resume memorable, and sell yourself with a professional cover letter.

Five Questions To Ask Agents About Your Acting Career Before You Sign With Them

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.

If you feel you are not prepared and would like to have a session to get ready for an agent’s meeting, check out the Agent Meeting Role Play that I can work with you on. 

Meanwhile, get ready to go for it!

How To Get An Agent For Acting In Hollywood

If you want to be an actor in Hollywood, you will need to be located in Hollywood or be able to get here for agent meetings and auditions.  I will give you the basics on how to get an agent for both situations, whether you are an actor in Hollywood already, or if you are an actor in another city or state and thinking about pursuing a film and television acting career.

If you’re in Hollywood, you can try to get a referral from someone who good agents respect and like, such as a director or casting director.  Sometimes agents will consider a recommendation from a good acting coach.  But for most actors, you probably won’t have a referral that will matter to the agents.  So then what do you do? 

How to get an agent when you have no connections is really not that hard.  You first must get a very good, professional headshot that looks like you.  Then you have to get 8 x 10″ duplicates, of course.  Then you have to put together an acting resume, which has a very specfic three-column format for newbies and somewhat working actors and a two-column format for working actors and on up. 

Your acting resume should include notes about any credits you have, training, and special skills, such as athletics, dialects, accents, and languages.

After you get your actors headshot and resume, then you need to write an introductory cover letter that introduces you in the best way to the agents.  You need to focus on what would be most of interest to the agents about YOU.  For the most part, they don’t care about what you “think,” so to speak, but what are the “facts” of your qualifications.  This is where it helps to have some “sales” skills for your letter to the agents also. 

When you present that facts about your acting background, you can put a “spin” on things to make them sound the best they can.  If all you’ve done is a bunch of student films, then instead of saying, “I haven’t done any professional acting yet,” instead you could say, “I’ve played Lead Roles in five independent short films.”  The truth is they are independent and they are short.  If you’ve more comfortable with calling them student films, that’s fine too:  “I’ve played Lead Roles in Five Student Films,” sounds better than “I haven’t really done anything….”

After you write a cover letter about your acting career to the agents, then you have to pick out who would be best to send to.  There used to be an excellent monthly publication called “The Agencies,” published by Michael Lloyd and Lawrence Parke of Acting World Books, but unfortunately, both gentlemen have passed away and the monthly book is now out of publication.  However, you can still get a list from SAG as a starting point.  Smart Girls Productions also keeps track of all The Agencies and even rates them A, B, C, D by their level of clout. 

So you write your letter, then you pick out the best agencies to send to.  Then you send out the Cover Letter Mailing with your headshot and resume.  From that point, the Hollywood Talent Agents who are interested will call you directly.

What if you live out of town?  If you’re in the local Southern California area, then just do it the same way, but consider using the mailing address of a friend in the Los Angeles or Hollywood area so the Agents don’t immediately worry that you won’t be quickly available for auditions.

If you are not in the area at all where it is not feasible to go to on auditions or casting calls the same day, then you can do it two ways.  One is that you can tell them up front that you are not local but that you will be moving there or that you are scheduling visits for the second week of  xxx, say the second week in “February.”  Then you take it from that point and try to get your agent meetings from there.  You wouldn’t even have to have your flight booked yet if you want to put some feelers out.  But you would still say that you are taking meetings then to encourage the agents to call you for a meeting.

The other option is to not tell the talent agents in your cover letter that you are out of town, but make it appear that you are already in town.  You might have some finagling to do if they want to meet you in a couple of days and you’re down in Texas, but you could make it work.  You can either go on and book a flight.  Or you could tell them that you are out of town this week but will be back next week.

There are various strategies that you can take in your cover letter when you are trying to find an agent, but the most important thing is to go for it.  You will learn many things along the way.  And the sooner you get started, the better.

If you would like assistance with helping you get an agent, consider getting a professional cover letter mailing to agents.

And that is how to get an Agent For Acting!