How Acting Agents Find New Clients, According to a Hollywood Rep

Article Image
Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

Now that the year of strikes is finally over, agents are on the hunt for new clients again. I’ve always loved this process. It makes me feel aggressive, like James Bond on a mission.

This brings up a question people have been asking me since day one: “Where do you find your clients?” I usually tell them that I sit by freeway off-ramps with a sign that reads, “Agent Seeks Clients.” But the truth is that there are several ways to accomplish this. 

First, I call my manager friends to see if they have any promising clients who need an agent; or I’ll ask if they have any clients who are unhappy with their current representation. (The only thing better than signing an actor is stealing an actor!) 

I also like to visit drama schools so I can check out the students. Some teachers won’t allow this, but I know a few who will—as long as I don’t reveal why I’m really there. That means going in undercover, wearing a White Stripes T-shirt and a Dodgers baseball cap.

Set visits are another effective way to meet potential clients. If I’m visiting one of my actors on the set of a movie, I’ll try to meet the other cast members while I’m there. These performers are usually impressed that I took the time to drop by, and they start to wonder why their own reps haven’t done the same thing. Guess what happens next.  

Over the years, I’ve always kept a list of intriguing actors I’ve seen onscreen. If I’m watching “The Rookie” and someone catches my eye, I’ll get that person’s name from the credits. Then I look them up on IMDb, which gives me their résumé and representation information. Based on that, I’ll figure out my next move. 

To be clear, that doesn’t mean I went to see “Barbie” last year and decided to target Ryan Gosling. He seems to be doing quite well. But there was another actor in the film who had a much smaller role whom I really liked. We ended up having a meeting that didn’t go anywhere—but who knows what the future holds? This business is all about planting seeds that may or may not grow. 

When I first became an agent, actors would submit their photos and résumés by mail, and envelopes came in by the hundreds. Struggling actors used to spend a fortune on headshots, and the labs that printed them made a lot of money. Now, it’s all done over email—and despite what you’ve probably heard, I look at every submission that comes to my inbox. The pickings are slim, but I’ve signed quite a few people this way.

Every agent has a sob story about a client they loved who left them for another lover—I mean, another agent. I like to look those actors up to see how they’re doing. You never know; sometimes, the bird that flew away comes back.

Here’s the main thing to remember: Agents need actors. We can’t do our job without them. So any rep who tells you that they’re not currently looking for new clients is a liar.

This story originally appeared in the Feb. 8 issue of Backstage Magazine.

Author Headshot
Secret Agent Man
Secret Agent Man is a Los Angeles–based talent agent and our resident tell-all columnist. Writing anonymously, he dishes out the candid and honest industry insight all actors need to hear.
See full bio and articles here!

More From Secret Agent Man


More From Acting

More From Agent

Now Trending