“How do I get an agent?” is the question I’m asked more than any other. Some of these actors have coached with me for a while, have professional credits, and are truly ready for representation—but many are just starting out. Here are four steps to take before you ever contact an agent.
- Do Your Research
If you were applying at a law firm you wouldn't send your résumé to every firm in the county without researching what kind of law they practice. Yet most actors will blindly send mass mailings to every agent in town. Find an agent that specializes in what you do and one that’s a fit with where you are in your career. Backstage’s Call Sheet is a great place to start: Browse the listings for and descriptions of agencies here. Ask your friends and colleagues if they recommend an agency and, if appropriate, if they’d be willing to act as a referral.
- Professional Headshots
You’ll need professional headshots before submitting to an agent. Make sure they’re current and look like you when you walk in! Don’t make the mistake of choosing your “prettiest” shot. Your photo should show them how you can be cast.
You should have some kind of acting experience before approaching an agent. How do you get experience without an agent? Create your own acting opportunities by self-submitting for projects through sites like Backstage. Do student films or create your own web series. If you are pursuing work on camera, use the footage from the opportunities you create to put together a reel. Many agents won’t see you without one. Check out casting director sites on social media. Follow them for updates about open calls or self-submission opportunities. Agents do take on “development” clients (talent with limited experience), but the number is low and many of them are straight out of acting school. Agents know that clients with good training can often quickly make up for what they lack in experience.
In no other profession would you advertise your services for hire without being trained to provide that service. I’d like to be a doctor but I know, before I start performing surgery, I should probably go to medical school. Yet “actors” think they’re ready for an agent just because they want to be an actor. Acting isn’t surgery but it is a craft and you’d be wise to learn it before trying to compete with professionals. Take an acting class. Become educated about how the business works. Work on your auditions with a coach to maximize your audition conversion rate. It seems obvious but there’s no substitute for knowledge, skill and training.
These four steps will provide you the tools, professional appearance, and skills to be attractive to an agent when the opportunity arrives. To get the specific training you need to improve your booking ratio, grab your seat in my (free) online masterclass “How to Book More Auditions in 5 Simple Steps.”
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.