How to get a great talent agent
One exciting challenge that new actors and seasoned actors face is that of getting a great agent. Any actor will tell you about the periods of time in her career that she didn’t have an agent and still had access to exciting work opportunities. In fact, there are many ways that you can manage your own acting career to book jobs on your own! However, there comes a time in your career when you do need an agent. At 3-2-1- Acting Classes in Los Angeles, we educate our students not only on acting technique, but also on the “biz” side of show biz! Here are some tips on how to get a great talent agent:
- Do your research: Make a targeted list of TV shows that you could be on.
The first part of your homework is really fun: watch TV! That’s right. Watch all sorts of shows that are currently on TV and online, and try to find programs that you could see yourself on. Are you a broad, goofy comedic actor? Then you are going to want to watch as many multi-cam sitcoms as you can. Are you an intense dramatic actor? Check out supernatural, sci fi, and procedural crime dramas.
Watch closely, and pay special attention to the co-star and guest star actors. Do you see yourself fitting into some of the smaller parts on these TV shows? Take notes. Be honest with yourself. Just because you love a show does not mean that it is necessarily a show you would be a good fit for. Make a list of the top 5 comedy and top 5 drama shows that seem like the best fits for you.
- Do your research: Make a targeted list of agents.
Rather than sending out 100 emails to 100 agents, all with the same cut-and-paste cover letter, you will want to do some specific, targeted research to find out what agents could be good matches for you.
Besides asking your friends and peers about their agents and how they are doing (always do this; always jot down some notes), you will want to use Imdb Pro as a research tool. Having an Imdb Pro membership is pretty much essential for any professional working actor. If you do not have an account, and you do not have the funds to sign up, perhaps a dear friend will allow you to use his account for a period of time.
Once you become familiar with the site, you will want to start looking up your target TV shows from your list, one program at a time. Once you’ve pulled up a TV show, look for actors with co-starring and guest-starring roles (not the lead actors – look at the supporting actors). Most of the co-star actors will have names that aren’t actual names like “Guy at Mall” or “Bartender.” Look at these actors’ profiles, and see who they are represented by. Pay attention to trends. If you see an agent that reps 7 co-starring actors on a show that you would be perfect for, chances are, that’s a great agent for you to reach out to!
Once you’ve done this most or all of your shows, make a list of 10 or so top choice agents.
- Ask for referrals.
Now, look up each agent on your list, one at a time. Look at their client rosters. Do you see any of your friends on these lists? Do you know anyone who knows these agents? Most importantly: do you have strong relationships with these people who could connect you to potential agents? If so, it is in your best interest to ask for a referral. Most of the meetings you will have throughout your career will be results of referrals.
If you don’t yet have strong relationships with people who are in positions to refer you, it is time to spend some time building authentic friendships and relationships with your peers!
- Send targeted, tailored communications.
No connections to the agents on your list? That’s okay! It’s time for you to reach out anyway. Write targeted, specific emails/cover letters to each agent on your list. Explain why you feel you would be a good match, e.g. “I see that you represent several actors who have appeared on New Girl, The Mindy Project, and similar comedies and feel that we could be a strong fit since these are all shows that I’m targeting.” OR you could say something specific and congratulatory as an opener, e.g. “Congrats to and your client Jane Doe on her recent guest star appearance on The Vampire Diaries. Such fantastic work.” OR “I saw your client John Doe on the Teen Choice Awards last week! Congrats to you both.” You get the idea.
Keep the email short. Agents already know that you are emailing to ask for representation, so get to the point quickly. Make it SUPER EASY for agents to see your demo reel and headshots. Links are great. Huge downloads are not.
- Follow up!
Didn’t hear back yet? Not to worry. Agents get hundreds of thousands of emails each week. It may take several emails, mailings, and follow up calls before an agent gets back to you. Space out your communications. Wait 3-6 months, or until you have an exciting new career update (whichever comes first), before you reach out again. At some point, the agent will think “Hmm….this girl looks really familiar. I must have met her somewhere recently. I’ll call her in.” The truth is, you’ve never met this agent in person; you have just programmed yourself into the agent’s subconscious because he has seen your photo every 6 months over the past 3 years. It can take a while before you hear back from someone. Be diligent, and keep moving!
- In the meeting: be yourself.
Hooray! You’ve got the meeting. The best advice we can give you is simply to be yourself. Agents want to see who you are as a person. Of course, be prepared. Have some questions ready. Research the agent thoroughly before you go in so that you won’t be asking questions about information that is obviously available on the internet or via industry word-of-mouth. It might help to speak with a trusted acting teacher or mentor/veteran actor before the meeting about what questions you might ask. One good thing to ask about is communication — how often and via what means (email, phone, etc.) does this agent prefer to be contacted?
Also, know yourself and what types of roles you see yourself playing. The agent may ask you questions about this. Instead of saying “well, how do YOU see me?” the agent wants to hear how you see yourself and what your vision for your career is. After all, your agent will be working for you, and not the other way around. You are in charge of your career!
Finding the right agent can be a time-consuming process, but, once you’ve found the RIGHT agent, you will be so glad that you did the work! Good luck to you as you take this exciting career step!