Wondering How Talent Agencies Work? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Q: How do talent agencies work?—@bestactress_jackie*

Talent agencies and management companies work in partnership with talent and advocate on their behalf in all aspects of their career. 

A talent agency or management company establishes relationships with talent seekers—advertising agencies, producers, production companies, casting directors, etc.—and establishes a roster of professional talent to present to them. The agency works to secure audition opportunities for actors on a daily basis. Once a buyer issues a character breakdown to the agent for a project, the script and instructions are sent to the appropriate talent to audition. The agent approves the audition, and, if accepted, it’s submitted to the producer, director, or casting director. Casting decisions are then made. At that point, the agency helps coordinate a shoot or session between the talent and the buyer, and negotiates the terms and conditions of an agreement for a performance. The agent is responsible for negotiating fair rates and proper terms in a contract, as well as making certain that all invoicing and payment details are handled for the talent in a timely manner. 

READ: How To Get an Acting Agent

They can also help to pitch talent by suggesting them to casting directors; sending marketing materials to talent seekers featuring news about bookings that talent might have made; and promoting their roster via the agency website, social media pages, or press releases. They’ll advise talent on what projects may be most suitable in order to guide their career path forward, help select material for demo reels and modeling cards, and help direct actors on audition performances. They also may help suggest the best type of training an actor might need at any given point in their career. 

Talent representatives typically find talent via the demo submission process, open calls, or showcases. They must try to keep the number of people they handle to a reasonable amount so that talent seekers aren’t overwhelmed with audition submissions, and also so that the talent themselves are given the kind of focus and attention they need from their representatives.

The duty of an agency is to help provide talent with opportunities and protect them every step of the way through the audition, booking, performance, and payment processes. 

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This story originally appeared in the March 4 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
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Jeffrey Umberger
Jeffrey Umberger is a VO manager with ACM Talent (NY, ATL, L.A.). His background in the entertainment industry stretches back nearly 40 years, first as a film and TV actor, composer, and musician, transitioning to the casting, agent, and management side to specialize in voiceover. Former owner and founder of Umberger Agency, Jeffrey is a well-respected VO industry expert, panelist, speaker, and actors advocate.
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