This Is the First Step to Becoming a Hollywood Talent Agent

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Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

So, you want to be an agent? Well, the first thing you need to know is that once you strip away all the showbiz glitz, you end up with what’s basically a sales job. Actors are the product. You sell them.

I have a friend who makes a fortune selling cars for Tesla, and the best part of his job is that those cars never have a bad day. They don’t talk back. And they never, ever show up late for a test drive. I only wish my products were like that!

Once you accept this reality, you have to consider if you’re the right type for a sales gig. The ability to create and nurture relationships is a must. You also have to know how far you can bend the truth before it snaps. I’m not saying you need to become a liar—I’m just suggesting that a flexible relationship with facts can be helpful.

Do you still want to follow in my footsteps? Great! Because representing actors is a really cool way to make a living. Every day is different. You might be in the office, you could end up on set, or you might find yourself in a screening room. I love that kind of variety.

This brings us to the million-dollar question: How do you become an agent? The path I took is the only one I know that leads to a real career. You have to start as an assistant.

Assistant jobs are the entry-level key to every locked door in the business. I began at a huge company, and after a year of answering my agent’s phone, I ended up with a ton of knowledge and important contacts. The woman I worked for was Ari Gold in a dress. Watching her sign actors, pitch clients, and negotiate deals was an enlightening experience that convinced me I was on the right path.

Naturally, these jobs are in high demand. That means you have to crush your interviews. And, yes, there will be more than one. (I had three.)

Your résumé and education are important, but these interviews ultimately come down to personality. The agent who is hiring just wants to know if the two of you are a good fit. That’s what matters, because you’re going to be working as a team in a high-stress environment.

Once you’re on a desk, you can start enjoying the low pay and long hours as you consider the best way to stand out. Some assistants just sit there and do as they’re told. That path leads nowhere. You have to ask questions and make yourself available for any miserable task that comes along. This might lead to a promotion. If it doesn’t, you’ll have enough experience to make a move to another company that will hire you as an agent.

After 12 months, I knew it was time for me to move on. The whole corporate vibe was wrong for me, so instead of angling for a promotion, I approached a boutique agency with offices on both coasts. Based on my training, they hired me on the spot.

And that’s what makes you and I alike. Succeeding as an actor or as an agent often comes down to the same thing: training. It sure as hell made all the difference in my life.

Ready to get to work? Check out Backstage’s Los Angeles audition listings!

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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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