How to Choose the Right Talent Agent
A Talent Agent (whether theatrical or commercial representation) is the person who will be submitting your name and headshot to the casting director breakdowns in order for you to get an audition. Thousands of actors each year take showcases, send in blind submissions and get referrals to agencies so that they can have another person helping them get into the audition room. Unfortunately, a talent agent is looking at the dollar signs over your head– can this person make me money? Are they marketable? While you, the actor, are thinking– Will this person be pro-active? Will they submit and pitche me? Or will I get lost in the shuffle? Most importantly– Do they believe in me? With these conflicting thought, how do you choose the Talent Agent that’s best for you? To answer this question for yourself or your child, you need to first figure out exactly what you want out of an agent or agency and how they’ll bes suite your/you child’s needs, goals, and desired career path.
Are you looking for commercial representation (for TV commercials)? Theatrical representation (for TV/Film)? Print representation (modeling in catalogs, magazines, etc.)? Which of the interested agents are offering what you want? Some might be offering to represent your child “across the board,” meaning in all three of these categories, whereas others could only be interested in taking your child for one or two. Most of my students at 3-2-1 Acting Studios get sent out by one agency for theatrical roles, and another for commercials and print jobs. So find out exactly what each candidate is able to provide. Some “full-service” agencies are much stronger in one department than another, so make sure to take that into account as well. (“Full-service” means that they offer all the different types of representation I mentioned.)
It’s very important to do thorough research into the legitimacy and reputation of the different agencies in question. Luckily, Hollywood is such a small town that if someone is bad news, they’ll have a reputation that won’t be hard to uncover. Consult other parents and your child’s teachers, and go ahead and search online– the internet is a very useful tool for sniffing out potential scammers.
In each meeting, make sure you ask each talent agent if they have others your type and age range. While it’s great to work with a big name like WME (William Morris Endeavor), UTA (United Talent Agency), etc., you might get lost in the shuffle of all of their well kn0wn actors. Some smaller agencies (often referred to as boutique agencies) have a smaller number of clients and give more focused attention to their underdogs.
Ultimately, I tell students and parents to go with their gut. Who do you feel is the most excited by your child and their talent? Who do you think will work the hardest to promote it? Trust your intuition! An agent is another person playing on your team. You have to feel good about working with them. And upon booking a role, you should feel good about giving them their well-deserved 10% of your paycheck. Just make sure they are willing to work for it.