Thousands of actors each year network, mail 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 isn’t just normally scouting out your talents, but also the dollar signs over your head—Can this person make me money? Are they marketable? So how do you choose the right talent agent? Answering the following questions will help you.
1. Do I want to work in commercials, TV/film, or theater? The first and easiest step in finding the right agent is figuring out what area of the entertainment industry you want to pursue. While a multitude of actors are represented across the board, it’s not necessary unless you are targeting all three kinds of representation.
2. Are they franchised? Do your research— a list of franchised agents can be found on the SAG-AFTRA website. Actors are protected as long as their talent agency is franchised. For instance, guild franchise agreements limit the commission to 10 percent for union work.
3. Do they have good relationships with casting directors? There are agencies that are less than reputable, having either no relationship or a poor reputation among casting directors. Beware of such agents! Even if they’ll submit you to the breakdowns, the casting directors may not want to call you in. But if your agent is respected, casting directors will listen to their pitches.
4. Do they have other clients like me? While it’s great to work with a big name like WME or UTA, you might get lost in the shuffle of all of their well-known actors. Some boutique agencies have a smaller number of clients and will give more focused attention to their developing talent.
5. Do they believe in me? You ultimately want to work with an agent that will be pro-active. While I don’t recommend asking, “Do you believe in me?” in an agent meeting, you will know by their willingness to work with you. And when an agent does believe in you, they will want you to succeed.
6. Do I like them? This is a business partnership. 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 percent of your paycheck. Just make sure they are willing to work for it.
Ultimately, I tell students and parents to go with their gut. Who do you feel is the most excited by talent or your child’s talent? Who do you think will work the hardest to promote it? Trust your intuition!
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Mae Ross has directed and produced one of Hollywood's most celebrated talent agent showcases for over 15 years, guiding thousands of aspiring young actors to agency representation and career success. She has had the privilege of helping her students to book roles in such major films such as “The Hangover 2,” and on shows as “Jesse,” “Parenthood,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Prankstars,” “iCarly,” “Sesame Street,” “Phineas & Ferb,” “Bones,” “Cold Case,” “The Mentalist,” “Criminal Minds,” “CSI: LA,” “The Power Rangers,” “Ghost Whisperer,” “Parks & Recreation,” and many more. Children in film rated Ross a top acting coach for children and teens.
Ross’ own career has spanned three decades, starting at the age of 10, when she toured 64 cities across California with the hit Broadway musical "The Music Man." From there, she went on to star in over 40 national commercials, and has appeared in multiple television shows. She has also modeled international high-fashion brands including Chanel, Max Mara, Wrangler Jeans, Ungaro, Hugo Boss, and Anne Klein.
In 2006, Ross founded 3-2-1 Acting Studios in Los Angeles, which garners consistent recognition as one of Hollywood's finest on-camera acting schools for children and teens and young adults. For more information visit www.321talentshowcase.com.