Landing representation is the best way to grow your acting career—but contacting an acting agent through cold email can be an intimidating prospect. Here’s everything you need to know about pitching yourself to an agent via email.
To contact acting agents, you need to research and vet agencies, prepare your materials, and start submitting via email.
1. Research agencies. Use SAG-AFTRA’s list of union-franchised agencies to research which ones mesh with your interests and career goals.
2. Narrow down your list. Find contact information and more using our agent directory.
3. Prepare your materials. If you’re contacting an acting agent through cold email, you’ll want to have:
- Cover letter: A concise yet engaging cover letter discussing your background, experience, and career goals
- Headshot: Your actor headshot that showing off your unique look and personality
- Résumé: A properly formatted acting résumé highlighting your work
- Demo reel: A one- to two-minute compilation of your greatest performances
4. Format your email. Follow our guidelines for acting cover letters to format your message to the agent:
Subject: Seeking Representation: [Your Name] [City]
Hi, [name of agent],
I’m [your name], and I’m writing to seek representation in [TV/film/commercial work/etc.]. I have been working in the business for [X amount of time], and [write something about yourself that’s not obvious from your résumé or reel]. I’m [describe your type], and I was referred by [name of your reference; it’s helpful if you were referred, and for some agencies, it’s required]. I’ve recently been working on [name a recent project or professional experience], and I think your agency would be a good fit for me because [research the agency to find a reason].
I am currently appearing in [X show] on [X date]. If you can attend, I would love to get tickets for you. Also, I’m on [X series] currently airing on [X network].
If you would like to meet or schedule an interview, I can be reached at [phone number, email, and website]. I look forward to connecting soon. Attached, please find my résumé, headshot, and a link to my acting reel.
5. Submit. Be sure to follow each agent’s submission guidelines exactly. The best time to email talent agents is usually just before or after pilot season; over the winter holidays; or anytime Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. While not every agent is bothered by a midnight missive, some may write you off if you message outside of regular business hours.
When I was an agent back in the day, actors mailed hard copies of their pictures, résumés, and demo reels in search of representation. Ninety-nine percent of those envelopes were screened and thrown in the trash, never making it to my desk. Nowadays, agents and managers are easily accessible by email. I get at least five unsolicited submissions a week from actors, and it seems that most of them don’t know the first thing about selling themselves via digital correspondence.
When I get email queries, I read the first line, then scroll down to see how long this person’s intro is. If it’s more than a short paragraph, I delete it. Agents and managers don’t have the time to read about your “special skills,” high school performances, where you studied drama in elementary school, or how many musicals you’ve performed in.
So how do you catch a rep’s attention in the first few sentences of your email so they’ll look at your picture, résumé, and demo reel? Here’s everything you need to know about how to contact acting agents.
1. An error-free introduction: My interest is piqued by your cover letter, a short note with pertinent info (the four Ws). Remember in elementary school when your teacher taught you the five Ws to look for when reading a story? I like to use four of those Ws to stress the important points in writing your cover letter:
- Who: Your name, obviously.
- What: What do you do? Are you an actor, writer, producer, dancer, or singer?
- Where: Where are you from and where are you currently based?
- Why: Why should I open your info? Have you been studying theater? Have you written any screenplays that have won any awards? Why are you ready for representation? Why are you special? You need to entice me to take the next step. Make sure you do your research; if someone spells my name wrong or is asking for representation in an area I don’t work in, I’ll delete without hesitation.
2. Professional headshot and résumé: Make sure you have a great headshot that looks like you and is appealing and a professional résumé that is properly formatted. All agents and managers are looking for different types of clients and you may not be what they are looking for. They may have too many people similar to you in look and type, but that’s OK! It only takes one yes, not 100.
3. A compelling, concise demo reel: Your cover letter, headshot, and résumé have interested me enough by this point to look at your demo reel. Make sure your reel is short and strong but has enough substance to show me that you can act. You don’t need to show every character you can play or every different look you have. Present yourself as a product and a type at first; range comes later if we meet.
Additionally, it’s better to shoot a monologue or a few scenes by yourself rather than send a reel with you doing a few lines here and there. You want to give the impression that you’re ready for a meaty job and can hold your own on a set! Most agents and managers don’t want to take someone on who has only done a couple lines in something—they want more experience.
4. A willingness to meet, to be on time, and to be honest: If I’m impressed by your cover letter, headshot, résumé, and demo reel, I’ll say, “I need that on my list!” and reach out about sending more material or meeting in person. This is huge and you should be very proud of yourself! Getting in a room with an agent or manager is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do in the industry. Always show up to meetings on time, dress professionally, and look like your headshot. Show that you have personality, talk about your training, be honest, and express that you’re a hard worker. Present a package they (and I!) can’t refuse.
Remember: The first step is presenting a professional introduction letter and materials, and your end goal is to get into that room and sell yourself. Good luck!