written by Leading Casting Director, Jeffrey Dreisbach
“I need an agent”, is a question I get quite often. Many times, an actor has decided that getting someone to represent them is a priority for their business plan. For others it is a frightening proposition. After all, the talent sometimes believes that with an agent, their career will take off. I think it's best to answer the question with another question or even better, a series of questions. While finding an agent should be part of any professional actor’s business plan, answering these questions first will save you a lot of time and energy and may even help you connect with the representative that you are most excited to work with. Take a look at the following questions and see if your answers actually help you get closer to this ever-important relationship.
Is your acting in the best possible shape?
This is a question only you can answer. You may be just out of college or a university training program. You may have been acting on a semiprofessional level for quite some time. No matter your training background or work history, being 100% sure you are ready for an agent means that you are in the best possible position for those acting opportunities right now. For example, if you are looking for television or film work are you comfortable and confident with the audition process for those jobs? If you are looking for professional theater jobs, are you ready with your audition technique to take on the role? If the answer is yes, then you can be assured that an agent or a manager would feel the same way too. If the answer is no, then it might be a good idea to review your plan for classes or workshops or seminars or any additional options that can help you feel more confident about your skill level. finally, if you aren't sure about your skill level then perhaps a peer evaluation can help you decide you’re next move.
Do you have the right credits for your current brand?
Asking this question might be difficult to answer. I hear actors all the time mention that many of their credits on their resume do not reflect their talent. The question relates more to how you are perceived by someone who will be representing you. For example, if you have theater credits with truly little or no film or television experience why would a TV or film agent want to represent you? I don't mean to sound harsh here but in order to succeed with your business plan make sure you have the right message with your brand. Using this example, showing that you have taken film and television training classes would support your plan. This is not a catch 22, but rather a way to define your interest with the focus you place on your marketing materials. Making it easy for an agent to see your potential is more valuable than not having the credits you want. This brings us to our next question.
Does your picture and resume reflect your Energy and personality?
Notice I did not use the word brand here. Getting a sense of who you are based on the materials you are marketing can go a long way toward representation. You've heard it before but if your picture does not really look like you then it is time for a new picture, simple as that. Currently I do not see much distinction between a theater headshot and a film/television headshot. a professional headshot that gives me a sense of who you are and what you are about in your resume is critical. Again, it is a matter of looking objectively at these tools and ask yourself what would make a talent representative excited to meet me.
Have you continued training and growing your professional contacts?
Now that we have established the importance of your materials, deciding about what classes to take can help you demonstrate your professional interests. There are many options available to you for learning a skill set that has your interest in mind. If you love musical theater for example, it might be a good idea to enroll in a tap class. OK, if tap is not your thing, then why not get some audition skills for musical theatre. With classes come contacts. It is a matter of continuing education. Investing in yourself as a professional, is impressive for an agent or manager who might be looking.
Are you available for auditions? Callbacks? Bookings?
The agent or manager might be interested in working with you. That is great. But now it turns out that you have side hustle gigs that prevent you from auditioning. Yikes! Make sure you can commit to this new relationship by being available for everything you are submitted for. Please do not say yes to every audition if you have no intention of taking the gig if you book it. Agents and managers need to know that you are ready, willing, and able to take on those opportunities you are seen for.
Have you researched the representation that is right for you?
It is one thing to want someone in your corner to help you with your career, it is quite another to know who that representative is. Taking time to research the agencies is time well spent. The same goes for managers. Finding out as much as you can about these agencies will help you in multiple ways. Who do they represent? how are they to work with? what size agency is best for you? and finally, would this be a good fit? I understand that this might seem like tedious research but remember that information is power. Having a strategy with good research just makes sense.
Now that you have answered these questions, we can spend a moment on how agents find actors. there are four ways this usually happens. First the referral. A recommendation from a casting director, director, actor who is currently working with the agent, are usually the best way a meeting happens. Second, a showcase or performance that an agent sees can often lead to a meeting as well. The last and least effective method is an actor reaching out without some kind of logical connection. That does not mean you should not try it. It just means to keep it in perspective. Answering these questions and understanding the goal of representation will ultimately lead to a result that can advance your career and keep you working.
About Jeffrey Dreisbach:
Casting Partner, Jeffrey Dreisbach (McCorkle Casting, LLC) has been working on theater, film and television projects for over 12 years. He began his show business journey in New York as an actor accumulating film, television and theatre (Broadway, off-Broadway, Regional) credits for 20 years. Hi is the author of “Conversation Pieces out of the Studio, The Voiceover Workshop for Professional Actors” (Dogear Publishing). His podcast, Casting Actors Cast has over 50,000 downloads worldwide. Jeff has dedicated himself to training, teaching, and sharing his experience with actors at colleges, Universities, and studios throughout the country. You can catch his blogposts “Jeff’s Jots”every other week at Acting & Voice Studios.
Jeffrey's Podcast is celebrating 50K Downloads today so don't forget to listen to his newest podcast here: