Almost every actor who wants to be in commercials wants an agent. Landing legitimate representation for commercials can be easy sometimes, but it can also be challenging. Here are some suggestions that might help in the process.
1. Do your research.
Start by getting a list of franchised agents from SAG-AFTRA or check out Backstage’s online directory of agents and managers. There are some agents who aren’t SAG-AFTRA franchised but that doesn’t mean they’re not reputable. SAG-AFTRA members are just easier to check out and are accountable to a supervising entity.
2. Buy resources.
Buy updated books—like Call Sheet—that list and describe agents and managers. Study how many agents are in 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.
3. Ask people you know.
If you know industry professionals, acting classmates, teachers, or relatives who are involved in the business, ask them the following questions about agents:
- Who would you recommend and who should be avoided?
- How do I contact them?
- Do you know anyone who could refer me?
4. Go online.
Visit the websites of the agents you’re considering and read about the agency, company history, and the people who work there. Once you have a shortlist, check your choices with the Better Business Bureau and find out if they’ve had claims filed against them.
5. Decide where to submit.
The size and status of the office you should realistically approach is determined by where 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 or just want to try to get with one, you should pursue it. If your timing, talent, and type are right, you could get lucky.
6. Submit your materials.
Now that you know the reputable agents you wish to pursue, submit your headshot, résumé, cover letter, and reel. 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.
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. 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.
*This post was originally published on Jan. 30, 2017. It has since been updated.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.