When other industry sources make lists of notable talent agencies, giants like William Morris Endeavor and Creative Artists Agency inevitably rise to the top. But unless you’re Meryl Streep, an agency of that stature is likely out of reach at this point in your career. So, we looked at nearly 60 up-and-coming stars just breaking out in Hollywood (and some major players) and checked out their initial agency, where they are currently represented, and where they could be going next to curate the perfect list for working actors looking to take that next step.
Combined with first-person accounts from actors on the rosters in question, plus online reviews, we got the real deal on what it’s like to be represented by these agencies. These are the folks who have worked with some big-name clients but are still available enough to take a chance on a midcareer actor with several notable roles under their belt. While some of these agencies represent similar talent, no two are alike. Check out our list to see where you might find the right agent for you. And for the full guide on how to get an agent, click here.
The Breakdown: With a diverse roster of talent ranging in age and career status, Abrams is an excellent resource for actors who already have a solid résumé.
Abrams offers representation for film and TV, commercial, voiceover, digital media, literary, and theater. Its approach to signing talent follows a more relaxed and collaborative process, implementing the motto: “No boardroom necessary.” Notable actors represented at Abrams are Diane Guerrero (“Orange Is the New Black,” represented by Danielle DeLawder), Iain Armitage (“Young Sheldon,” “Big Little Lies,” represented by Jamie Pillet), Torrey DeVitto (“Chicago Med,” represented by Dan Moresco), Peter Facinelli (“Twilight,” represented by Todd Eisner), and Milly Shapiro (“Hereditary,” represented by Victoria Kress). More recent breakouts coming out of Abrams include Robin Lord Taylor (“Gotham”) and Josh Segarra (“The Other Two,” Broadway’s “On Your Feet!”). On what an actor can expect from being represented by an Abrams agent, executive Adam Bold tells Variety: “We will always be on the cutting edge of what will be most productive for our clients today, as well as whatever comes next.” Actor Milauna Jackson (“How to Get Away With Murder,” represented by Sharon Paz) tells Backstage that Abrams has helped forge her career in entertainment on her own terms. “Whenever I’m presented with auditions or offers, they respect my decision to say ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ no matter the opportunity,” she says. “They’ve been supportive team players.” A good way to get someone’s attention at the agency? Invite them to a performance, says agent Richard Fisher. It doesn’t have to be at a major theater, but a postcard with a thoughtful invite is a good way to get an agent through the door to see your work!
“I just want somebody to come in and be themselves. I don’t really want to sit down with somebody that, you know, the lights come on and they just start performing and they’re not who you’d hope they would be. So just be yourself and be natural.”
The Breakdown: This agency was founded by an actor, so their ethos is based on catering to the everyday working actor while still wielding enough power to broker some of Hollywood’s biggest deals.
An agency with name recognition, Buchwald offers representation for commercial, print, digital and branded lifestyle, film, TV, theater, literary, social media influencers, sports, and voiceover, as well as to stalwart Hollywood names including Kirstie Alley and Blythe Danner. But even if you don’t know their names, most of the actors currently repped here have landed parts on majorly successful projects: Francesca Reale (“Stranger Things,” represented by Leslie Zaslower), Taryn Manning (“Orange Is the New Black”), O-T Fagbenle (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” represented by Julia Buchwald), Shanola Hampton (“Shameless,” represented by Jason Hyman), Rachel Nichols (“Continuum,” represented by Ryan Martin), Kimiko Glenn (“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” represented by Leslie Zaslower), and Andrea Navedo (“Jane The Virgin,” represented by Sheree Cohen) to name a few. According to the New York Times, founder Don Buchwald is Howard Stern’s beloved long-term agent, negotiating a record-breaking $80-million annual production arrangement with Sirius radio. His daughter, Julia Buchwald, has been “expanding the agency’s Los Angeles practice, including its branding and digital media departments” since early 2018.
The Breakdown: For actors looking to harness the power of a team of agents instead of one to collaborate with, CESD is perfect.
Actor Claudia Keener told Backstage that she feels supported by her team at CESD, where actors are represented by multiple agents who work together to pitch their clients, as opposed to having individuals focusing on their own rosters. It offers representation for on-camera and voiceover commercials, theatrical, film and TV, digital, print and fashion, beauty, dance, animation and gaming, hosting, puppeteers, and television and radio affiliate marketing. CESD was the first talent agency Jennifer Lawrence signed with before moving on to CAA, and the agency is currently representing young powerhouses like Julia Butters (“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” represented by Melissa Berger), Ella Jay Basco (“Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” represented by Dylan Horwitz), Cara Buono (“Stranger Things,” “Mad Men,” represented by Erin Grush), and Deborah Ayorinde, star of the upcoming Lena Waithe–produced series “Them: Covenant.” Boasting an impressive roster of celebrity voiceover talent ranging from Darren Criss to Phylicia Rashad, CESD also presents a fantastic opportunity for mid-career VO actors to expand their presence in the industry.
The Breakdown: If you care about having a “name” agency, Gersh is an established and trusted, second-tier agency, and the largest on this list.
A few stars represented here are Haley Lu Richardson (“Five Feet Apart,” represented by Matt Vioral), Allison Janney (“Mom,” represented by Leslie Siebert), Winona Ryder (“Stranger Things,” represented by Daisy Wu), and Elizabeth Olsen (“Avengers,” represented by Rhonda Price). Though signing with Gersh represents a major step in a working actor’s career, The Hollywood Reporter notes that the agency has historically preferred to keep a roster of “steadily working actors whose faces might be more recognizable than their names.” If you’re a Zazie Beets before “Atlanta” or a Nico Tortorella before “Younger” (i.e., an actor familiar with the business with solid professional connections and demonstrable talent), Gersh may be the agency for you.
READ: How to Get an Agent
The Breakdown: This agency is “boutique-y” in spirit but is gaining major traction in the industry based on its growing, successful clientele.
Greene & Associates is a great option for working actors when considering agencies, offering representation for film, television, and commercial work. With roughly 150 clients, Greene & Associates exists on the smaller side of L.A. talent agencies, but its roster is really beefing up. Top-tier talent it currently represents includes Chadwick Boseman (“Black Panther,” represented by Michael Greene), Tessa Thompson (“Avengers,” “Westworld,” also represented by Greene), and Aidan Gillen (“Game of Thrones,” represented by Azeem Chiba), but it also works with up-and-coming actors including Aisha Hinds (“9-1-1,” represented by Ethan Salter) and Olivia Rodrigo (“Bizaardvark,” represented by Kiernan McCaffrey), plus character actors like Sakina Jaffrey (“House of Cards,” represented by Veronica Gabriel). Actors can expect to work with agents like Gabriel who, while at UTA, demonstrated “a strong track record of signing and developing emerging talent,” including Greta Gerwig and Lily James.
The Breakdown: Fresh-faced actors who have tallied some impressive credits gravitate towards this agency.
Hyperion is a fantastic stepping stone for the working actor on their way to exploring their career options, as it specializes in discovering and fostering talent, as evidenced by the actors they represent. Formed in 2017 by veteran talent agent Ryan Bartlett, Hyperion Talent is a small but prestigious agency offering clients representation for film, television, and commercial work. Shailene Woodley (“Big Little Lies”) followed Bartlett to Hyperion after his exit from UTA. A former colleague described Bartlett, as “one of the hardest working and most personable agents I’ve had the pleasure of working with – a high-end boutique agency is a breath of fresh air!!” And Hyperion’s President of Branding Anthony Hillsburg describes Bartlett as “an innovative leader” who shares a similar passion for “strategically servicing talent.” Hyperion currently represents Natalia Cordova-Buckley (“Coco,” represented by Austin Leshay), Ashton Sanders (“Moonlight,” represented by Bartlett), and Chance Perdomo (“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”), to name a few.
The Breakdown: With a growing roster of big-name clients, Innovative has lived at the top of the second-tier agency list for decades, yet remains intimate enough for working actors to access.
Innovative Artists is a full-service, trusted agency offering representation for film, television, literary, voiceover and commercial, beauty, and comedy and hosting. It handles representation for Ashleigh Murray (“Riverdale,” represented by Jaime Misher), Britt Robertson (“Girlboss,” represented by Abby Bluestone), and Amanda Seyfried, as well as commercial work for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” Emmy winner Rachel Brosnahan. Jim Parsons was repped by Innovative for 10 years, as was Ashton Kutcher before moving on to CAA. “In an industry where mergers and defections have resulted in a few mammoth agencies,” said Variety on the agency’s 25th birthday in 2012, “the Santa Monica–based tenpercentery prefers to keep its focus on service, not size.”
The Breakdown: For the working actor looking for representation for the first time, Osbrink offers an established list of agents who specialize in discovering fresh talent.
The Osbrink Agency offers film, television, commercial, voiceover, and print representation. Though technically considered a boutique agency, Osbrink is a major industry player that specializes in young performer talent, having discovered and represented both Elle and Dakota Fanning before they moved on to WME in 2012. Osbrink most recently signed “Chicago P.D.” star Lisseth Chavez and previously represented child actor Miles Brown (“Black-ish,” represented by Amanda Lie) and Noah Centineo (“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” represented by Charlie Jennings) before they moved on to CAA. One actor described the agency as being “attentive to details, possessing personal dedication and sincere support for clients,” as well as being interested in “finding and growing potential for those who want to work hard.”
The Breakdown: While it works with actors of all ages, this might be an especially good fit for a child actor with a few notable credits on their résumé.
TalentWorks offers commercial, film, and television representation. According to Deadline, the agency revamped its kids division back in 2013. “We were the first agency to establish a youth division within an adult agency,” founder Harry Gold said. “James Franco, Zac Efron, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hilary Swank, and countless other young talented actors began their careers at my agency.” Max Greenfield (“New Girl”) and Constance Wu (“Crazy Rich Asians”) were repped by TalentWorks before moving on to WME. Current stars represented here are Holly Curran (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” represented by August Kammer), Betsy Brandt (“Breaking Bad,” represented by Brandy Gold), Michael Gladis (“Mad Men,” “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels,” represented by Danielle Ippolito), Leah Remini (“The Talk,” represented by Gold), and Adina Porter (“American Horror Story,” represented by Sue Wohl).
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