5 Red Flags to Avoid When Looking for an Agent

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Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

There are two basic facts about an acting career that you should know: Unrepresented actors need agents, and actors who don’t like their agent need a new one. 

Let’s assume you fall into one of those categories, and that, thanks to your excellent networking skills, you’ve scored a rep meeting with a boutique talent agency that has a nice reputation. You show up a few minutes early, looking good and feeling great. 

I’m all about positive energy, but don’t allow that excitement to blind you from the reality of the situation. You’re interviewing each other. Don’t just drop into low-status mode by assuming all the pressure is on you to make a good impression. The agents are supposed to impress you, too. 

So, set a game plan. Listen to and answer their questions. Share a few fun stories. Impress everyone with your sparkling personality. But most importantly, ask yourself the following questions and keep an eye out for any alarming red flags:

  1. Did the agents do their homework? Are they making comments based on your résumé and reel, or does it sound like they know nothing about you?
    Before going into a rep meeting, I always look up an actor’s background, and I take a close look at the material that was submitted. Doing this usually brings a few questions to mind which I then pass along to the actor. I never go into a meeting cold.
  2. Are there a ton of interruptions? Are the agents constantly glancing down at their phones?
    That’s a bad sign. It shows a lack of respect and interest. Naturally, there are exceptions. If an assistant races in with an urgent message, one of the agents may have to step out for a few minutes. That’s fine. Responding to a text during your meeting is not.
  3. How are the agents making you feel? Do you feel comfortable and welcome, or are you being treated like you’re lucky to be there? 
    Look at it this way: Maybe you are indeed lucky to be there, but that doesn’t mean you should be treated like a turd in a swimming pool. I want every actor who sits down with me to walk away feeling good about the experience. 
  4. Do you like the people you’re meeting?
    You don’t have to love your agents, but you do have to like them on some level, because there’s going to be a lot of back and forth if you end up working together. Some actors are tolerant of grating personalities. Some aren’t. 
  5. How’s the communication?
    Are the agents responding to your questions with detailed answers, or are they being dismissive? There needs to be a genuine back-and-forth for a meeting to be effective. 

READ: 3 Questions That Will 100% Ruin Your Next Meeting With an Agent

Actors are usually so desperate to find representation that they’ll sign with the first company that makes them an offer. But you have to be certain it’s the right fit. There has to be a connection there. Crossing your fingers and ignoring the warning signs is never a smart move. And remember: The way you’re treated in a rep meeting is the way you’re going to be treated when you’re a client. That statement alone should provide you with all the information you need to make an educated decision.

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Secret Agent Man
Secret Agent Man is a Los Angeles–based talent agent and our resident tell-all columnist. Writing anonymously, he dishes out the candid and honest industry insight all actors need to hear.
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