8 UK Acting Agencies for Children You Should Know

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Photo Source: Warner Brothers

Finally ready to pursue the talent agent your child actor deserves? You’ve come to the right place to find the talent agencies for young actors.

Ultimately, if you find the right acting agent (combined with the right parenting) to guide their career, being a successful child actor doesn’t have to mean descending into Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Most child actors are well-balanced kids with a real love of acting who just want to get involved in the industry from the earliest possible age. Drew Barrymore, Daniel Radcliffe, and Ryan Gosling were all child actors and it hasn’t worked out too badly for them.

Many adult agencies have separate divisions dealing with actors under 16, but it’s a niche area and most child actors initially find themselves with a specialist agency. They have the connections, insider knowledge, and contacts that can kickstart a successful career.   

Before you embark on looking for a talent agent for your child, take a moment to think about the decision: you’re committing not only yourself but also your family to some serious sacrifices. A parents’ backing is crucial as they’ll be ferrying their young actor from audition to audition (mainly in London), paying for photographers’ fees and coaching, and more, so make sure it’s definitely what you and your child want. And if it is, then it’s time to go through our list of some of the notable agents for child actors in the UK. Good luck!

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The Sylvia Young Agency

The Breakdown: An agency with a worldwide reputation and demonstrable stage and screen success, helped by their links with the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School, with its glittering alumni.

The Sylvia Young Theatre School (SYTS) has a well-deserved rep for training young actors, with many famous alumni such as X-Men’s Nicholas Hoult, The Bodyguard’s Keeley Hawes, Steven Mackintosh (Wanderlust), and Amy Winehouse. The school has its own agency which is open to all, though understandably has lots of SYTS children on its books. It specialises in film, TV,  theatre, and radio drama as well as commercials and voiceover work, taking children aged from five to their mid-20s.

The agency’s reputation is well earned. They have clients in the lead roles of many West End shows such as Matilda, The Lion King, and Billy Elliot, as well as children working for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), English National Opera (ENO), and the National Theatre. They’ve also placed actors in TV series like Game of Thrones and Doctor Who, and have well-established relationships with soap casting departments.

With a rollcall like that, it’s easy to see why the agency is very popular and is often over-subscribed. However, they claim they’re always on the look-out for new talent and they’re very clear about what they’re after: confident, talented child actors who can fit a particular casting type they haven’t filled. If you’re over 13 years old, they want a video monologue; you may then get invited to meet an agent. You can see more details on how to apply here. Plus, even if you don’t get signed, their website is full of excellent tips for children starting out – so do take a look.

READ: Everything UK Actors Need to Know About Monologues

Hero Talent Group

The Breakdown: Run by a former child actor, Hero has a strong reputation among both the industry and parents, with a mixture of high-profile television and films alongside lucrative advertising work. The agency is selective, but with a welcome emphasis on pastoral care.

Hero is a St Albans-based agency with a strong reputation and 50 years of industry experience. Headed up by former child actor Nicola Joy, Hero works with children of all ages and gets them placed in exciting, high-profile projects – projects like Game of Thrones for their client Harry Grasby, or Working Title’s new film version of Rebecca for Poppy Allen-Quarmby. They have clients working at the Donmar, on ITV, Netflix, and the BBC – it’s an impressive credit list, which is just what you want in a potential agency.  

Hero’s clients number in the tens, not the hundreds, which means each actor should get a personal service from Hero’s agents. It also means the agency is selective with the talent they take on. Parent forums exhibit high praise for Hero, and their junior category for young children is password-protected, an example of their high level of pastoral care.

It’s also worth noting that Hero has a successful hit rate when it comes to TV ads and other commercial work. Advertising may not equate to the lead in the new Marvel movie, but it can be lucrative, so worth bearing in mind when you’re choosing who’ll rep you.

The first step to getting Hero representation is filling out their online form which includes a video link to your showreel so be prepared!    You’ll be asked to upload headshots, a CV, and a self-tape – so get up-to-speed on those here:

 

PD Management

The Breakdown: A small, specialist agency, PD nevertheless has a great credit list, with plenty of West End and TV placements. Potential is more important than experience, and clients have the benefit of regular workshops to educate them about the industry.

Although they describe themselves as a small agency, PD has just over 90 young children and teens on their books, so they certainly have plenty of clients to deal with, though parents do give good feedback about the agency and their level of communication. Their social media pages are full of personalised good-luck messages to clients – a nice touch.

PD agent Jo Wellings tells us: “We are looking for confident, happy children who are super keen to show off their talent whilst maintaining a natural performance. Potential is more important than experience – we are looking for children that we can help develop and grow.” The agency regularly holds workshops by visiting casting directors and industry professionals, and they’re keen to stress the agency’s “family atmosphere, with all children working together and offering amazing support to each other.”

As for Wellings’ tips for aspiring young talent, she says it’s important to be realistic and resilient – you won’t get every job, and it’s important to see “each casting opportunity as a great experience, whatever the outcome.” She also stresses the importance of gaining experience from a range of sources, fully understanding the commitment it takes to be a successful child actor, and not to forget to have fun.  

PD Management has an impressive credit list, and it includes all the big TV names you’d hope to see on there, like BBC, ITV, and Amazon. They’ve also placed children in theatre productions with the National Theatre as well as West End shows like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and Billy Elliot. And there’s also a good selection of more commercial names on there to keep the wolf from the door.

“I’m always on the look-out for new and upcoming talent, looking to fill gaps in our current client base. It is incredibly frustrating when a brief comes in and we do not have anyone on the books to fit that brief. We try to cover the whole spectrum of every-day children.”
Jo Wellings

Jo Wellings

Founder, PD Management

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Daisy & Dukes

The Breakdown: Run by a child actor’s parent, the agency understands the needs and concerns of their clients’ families and puts wellbeing front and centre while maintaining an enviable credit list.

Daisy & Dukes was founded in 2011 by Michelle Kirby, an agent with years of experience in the industry and her particular perspective as the mother of a child actor. She understands parents’ priorities and puts emphasis on her junior clients’ wellbeing and happiness.    

Most importantly, the agency boasts an exciting credits list, with clients placed in prime-time series like BBC’s Dickensian and ITV’s Mrs Biggs, and from soaps like EastEnders and Casualty to West End productions including Les Mis and Matilda. They don’t overlook commercials work either, and placements include the Rolls Royce of the advertising world – John Lewis’ annual Christmas advert.

Daisy & Dukes is a modelling agency as well as an acting agency, and they take on children from infants to teenagers. Their books are open to new talent in the new year and during the summer, and while there’s no charge to attend their auditions they are strictly by invite only. The first step is to visit their website and fill out a form and then they’ll take it from there. Daisy & Dukes is a sole agency, so if you sign up with them, you work with them exclusively.

Quirky Kidz Creative Management

The Breakdown: An effective and hard-working children’s agency, with blue-chip clients from The Crown to the West End – but the catch is that it’s only for members of the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts.

Exclusively linked to the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts (PQA), the Quirky Kidz agency was set up to give the academy’s students a chance to audition professionally. Casting days are set up across the country where children get to meet an agent and audition, and they even provide a nice video so you can see what you’re signing up to. It’s an agency that gets its clients work, with credits including Netflix’s The Crown, Game of Thrones, EastEnders, Silent Witness, and Deadwater as well as West End work in Tina the Musical, Mary Poppins, The Ferryman, and Kinky Boots. 

Quirky Kidz might be a particularly good match if your darling son or daughter is interested in musical theatre – they regularly run workshops for musical children, held by current professional performers, and with an eye to what the industry is looking for. And while it’s only for students of PQA, it’s worth noting that PQA courses are to be found all over the country, and tend to be part-time weekend affairs – so it’s not a major barrier.

BAM Kidz

The Breakdown: Big is better with this agency, though they balance their large client list with a family atmosphere and plenty of one-on-one assistance. They place an emphasis on education – grounding their clients in reality rather than dreams of stardom – yet they have an enviable track-record, with plenty of BBC and advertising work.

Run by a former presenter and stage school kid, BAM – or Brown and Mills, as it is more formally known – prides itself on its hands-on approach. This goes as far as one-to-one assistance with scripts and direction, which might be great for some clients but a bit too much for others. BAM has a long client list, worth considering as lots of internal competition can be hard work. However, BAM’s senior agent Emily Love tells Backstage that they like to “treat everyone like a family,” and she stresses the importance of working closely with parents so everyone feels “happy and comfortable.” She’s also keen to highlight the importance of balancing a burgeoning career with a good education – which will be music to most parents, ears.

When it comes to advice for budding Daniel Radcliffes and Saoirse Ronans, Love says that in an ever-changing environment, flexibility is key: “The entertainment industry moves so fast, with last-minute castings and quick turn-around jobs. You need to be able to adapt.” She also shares a tip for castings: bring a book, and something to keep your child entertained too – castings can involve a lot of waiting around.        

Alongside their children’s division, BAM has an adult agency, so they can guide you throughout your career. They’ve placed children in the West End and on the BBC, including a starring role in the BBC’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Crucially, they also seem very successful in the commercial sphere, with clients winning jobs with M&S, Asda, and Gap.

Alphabet Agency

The Breakdown: Alphabet has a raft of successful credits across the media, from Black Mirror to Bridget Jones, and they seem to be mining a successful seam in voice work too, with none other than the mighty Peppa Pig among their clients.

Alphabet is a friendly agency with BAFTA-winning clientele. Established in 2003, the agency stresses diversity, and its mission statement states their desire to be “a positive catalyst for change in young lives by creating avenues and opportunities to develop self-confidence and self-esteem through the arts and media.” Great, especially if you can book some high-paying jobs too! 

Alphabet reps talent for TV, theatre, modelling, and voice work, and it takes on clients from babies to teenagers. They seem keen to get to know their clientele, and they stress the importance of career development, regularly reassessing progression and suitability. Their Youth Academy also runs frequent acting and self-confidence classes.

Alphabet’s credits are impressive, with recent placements in Amazon’s Good Omens, Netflix’s Black Mirror, ITV’s Wild Bill (opposite Rob Lowe) and in Bridget Jones’ Baby. Excitingly, BAFTA award-winner Harley Bird aka the voice of Peppa Pig is a client, alongside a wealth of other Peppa characters. In fact, providing the voices for animation seems to be a bit of an Alphabet niche – their clients’ vocal stylings are the leads in shows such as Zou, Ella Bella Bingo, and Woolly and Tig. A visit to their showreel page gives a good sense of the breadth of work, covering major productions from Bohemian Rhapsody to Sherlock, with a pretty comprehensive list of commercials and photographic campaigns too.

Bonnie & Betty Casting Agency

The Breakdown: Known for film support-artist work and modelling, with a great contacts book, a family feel, and an impressive roster of work.

Set up in 2009 by agent Bonnie Breen, Bonnie & Betty Agency maintains bases in London and Manchester, and represent the full spectrum of young talent from babies to teenagers. They bill themselves as a Child Model and Casting Agency, but they also offer representation, with a great reputation as a supplier of child support artists (extras) to exciting feature film projects like Les Misérables, Hugo, and Clash of the Titans.   

Bonnie & Betty aims to have a genuinely family-feel to the agency. Indeed, many of the staff are members of Bonnie’s own family, but they also keep their client list small in order to offer a truly personal service. They pride themselves on knowing each child on their books, tailoring the right jobs to the right children, and the positive parental feedback suggests that it’s working.

Bonnie Breen says the agency’s main job is to “build relationships with casting directors in order to receive work coming in.” According to Breen, castings are usually at short notice – meaning the next day – so it’s good to be prepared and ready for action. She also mentions that parents should be careful not to coach their little darlings too much when they’re being sent to a casting – being as natural and as malleable as possible is what directors are actually looking for.

When making your approach, the team aims to reply within 10 days. At time of writing their books were full, but they do a yearly review of all clients, and they insist they’ll be taking on new talent as the year progresses – so keep a close eye on their website and twitter feed for updates.

Ready to get to work? Check out Backstage’s UK Child Audition Listings.

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