Let’s consider for a moment that you are “ready” for a representative. (If you don’t know if you are ready, please read my Backstage article, “Are You Ready For Representation?”)
Finding the right representative for you is a lot like dating: they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and with various strengths and weaknesses. Representatives sign people who inspire them, who they think will make them a lot of money, or those with whom their personalities “click.” That is why there are so many representatives— because we all have different tastes. If we all had the same tastes, there would be one representative to handle everyone.
It is up to you to find out which agent or manager represents what part of the industry, and then find out which is the best fit for your strengths and interests. How do you do that? Dive into the Internet. Look up the names of representatives and find out which clients they handle. Use IMDB, IBDB, lortel.org (the Off Broadway database), etc. Ask your actor friends and teachers if they could make an introduction to their representative. You could also try some general meetings. Remember, all of these ideas have a better chance at producing a representative for you as long as you are “ready” for representation.
Interviewing with a representative who doesn't know you and who hasn't seen your work is difficult, because they are only judging you on your resume and your personality, and that is, in my opinion, a waste of time. I think the best scenario is when a representative approaches you, usually because they have seen your work, or you have come highly recommended by their client or colleague. That way half your work is done. This is where your friends and fellow actors who have representation can be put to use—ask them if they would recommend you to their agent or manager. If they do that, then that is when you will send their representative your photo and resume with a cover letter. Ask your teachers and mentors in the business for ideas. You could try some meet and greets, and perhaps find a representative that will work with you. This is sometimes a good way to find a representative because most junior agents who attend these events are required to bring in new talent. Since these junior agents will have a hard time enticing more established actors, the meet and greets provide them with opportunities to discover new talent like you.
Obtaining representation by an agent or manager isn’t the be-all and end-all. There is so much that you can do on your own without a representative—and plenty to do even with representation—that can help further your career. I encourage you to find opportunities for yourself, and I wish you success!
John Essay has been a theatrical manager and producer for nearly 25 years. His company, Essay Management, represents actors, writers and directors in all areas of the entertainment industry. He also created www.TheActorsGuideToEverything.com, a website reflecting the culmination of all that he has learned in the last 25 years as a personal manager.