Every actor needs an agent at some point in their career. Although I’d caution against seeking out representation too early (no agent wants to sign someone with zero professional experience!), below are six steps you should take when you’re finally ready to get an acting agent.
1. Make a list of potential talent agencies and agents. Start by mining your personal network for recommendations. If you know industry professionals, acting classmates, teachers, or relatives who are involved in the business, ask them the following questions:
- Which agents would you recommend, and who should be avoided?
- How do I contact them?
- Do you know anyone who could refer me?
You can also check out Backstage’s online directory of agents and managers, or pull a list of franchised agents from SAG-AFTRA. Although there are certainly reputable agents who are not SAG-AFTRA franchised, it’s easier to check out those who are—plus, they’re accountable to a supervising entity.
2. Research your candidates. Determine how many agents work for the agency, where the agency is located, how long the agency has been in business, what their submission guidelines are, who else they represent, etc. Backstage’s Call Sheet includes a lot of this information, and you can check out an agency’s website for additional context. And don’t forget to run your list through the Better Business Bureau to see if anyone has filed claims against the agencies—this will help protect you from scam operations or disreputable agents.
3. Narrow down your list. The size and status of the office you should realistically approach is determined by how far along you are in your career. When starting out, you’ll find that the small- and medium-sized offices are often more receptive to meeting new talent—but if you do have an “in” at a major agency, go for it. If your timing, talent, and type are right, you could get lucky. (Check out our lists of agencies for early- and mid-career actors in New York City and Los Angeles for ideas.) Start with a list of about 15-20 first-choice agencies; you can also put together a similar list of second-choice options.
4. Prepare and submit your materials. Now that you’ve identified the reputable agencies you plan to pursue, you’ll need to submit four things:
Don’t waste money mailing to every agent in town. Instead, reach out to your selected 15-20 agents and agencies. Actors bombard agents with submissions all the time. If you don’t get responses, submit to your second round of choices. Agents and managers will call you for a meeting if they’re interested in what they see in your submission.
5. Ask your network for referrals. If you have industry contacts, teachers, or friends who can recommend you to your desired agent(s), ask your contact if they would advise the agent to expect your submission.
6. Revamp your materials, and resubmit. If you get minimal or no response after the second round of submissions, shoot new photos, redo your résumé and cover letter, and submit again to your first, then second choices. Client rosters often change, making room for an actor who was of no interest just a few weeks earlier.
Looking to get cast? Apply to casting calls on Backstage.
The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.