Written by Top Acting Coach, Conor Romero
How do I get an agent? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this question over my twenty years of experience as an actor in the entertainment business. To be honest, my answer really depends on the person and where they are in their acting career. I don’t know if there is a singular way that every actor can adopt in order to achieve the status of being represented. I’ll preface my advice with whatever I say in this post is just my opinion based on my own experiences and what I’ve noticed over the years from various working actors.
First off, where are you in your career? Are you just starting out? If so, I say- GO TRAIN! Learn your craft! You don’t even know if you want to really be an actor yet. Get in a class, meet people, learn, study this craft. Don’t worry about getting an agent just yet. Not for a few years. I personally trained for four years before attempting to get an agent through an acting workshop. It’s particularly hard to get representation if you don’t have anything on your resume and training allows you to at least have some basics to put on your resume. Not to mention sometimes having particular teachers on your resume makes you stand out later down the line. So, go build your network, make a few friends, have some amazing experiences and never stop studying the craft.
Okay, so let’s say you’ve been at this thing for a hot minute. You have some student films and community theatre under your belt and the ‘Training’ section of your resume is stacked. My advice… Workshops! Workshops are usually programs that you sign up for that puts you in front of teachers, casting directors and preferably agents, all within a three day to two week period, depending on what you signed up for. It’s a great way to learn the industry and meet people. Maybe I have a soft spot for workshops because I did a lot of them over the years and always enjoyed the experience but I highly recommend doing a workshop which includes an agent showcase of some kind.
If you want to bypass the workshop and get straight to the agent there’s good news. Agent Showcases! You’ve probably heard about these. You pay money to present your monologue or scene in front of one or more agents and pray to the gods that they sign you on the spot. I’m sure you’ve also heard why these are a waste of time or money but it just happens to be (in my opinion) the best way to find representation. I’ve also happened to sit in and facilitate numerous showcases over the years and I’ve noticed what has gone wrong for a lot of actors when they sign up for these workshops.
Your expectations. Of course you want representation right out of the gate. Or maybe you had a bad experience with the first showcase you did and vowed to never do one of these again. However, showcases are a lot like dating. Sometimes it just works right off the bat but most of the time it’s a process. When doing these workshops I highly recommend signing up for showcases that involve more than one agent. Preferably a workshop which includes a Q&A at the beginning which will give you a chance to feel out which agent you would potentially want to work with. After that… stalk them! I do not mean show up at their office and say “remember me from...?” Find out the next showcase they are doing and show up to that one. And then another, if that’s what it takes! Agents have good memories and I’ve seen actors get signed just because they found the agent they wanted to represent them and they followed them to every showcase they were in, and eventually… Wallah! “But that’s a lot of work!” Welcome to the industry! It is a lot of work. Don’t be discouraged if you sign up for one of these and hear nothing back. Be relentless! There are so many reasons why people don’t get signed and a lot of the time it has nothing to do with your performance. Sometimes their roster is full, or they already have your type and don’t need another. Head down, and push forward!
Forward to the next option! Self submissions. Once upon a time you would take headshots, spend a thousand dollars to print out a hundred of them, find the agency's addresses, send in your headshots, resume and cover letter, and then hope they don’t throw it in the garbage. Luckily we live in better times now where everything is done online.
You can literally google agents in your area and more often than not they will have a website (and if they don’t maybe that’s not the agent for you). From there, you can look for a self submission section, or a link to send an email to a specific department. Some agencies don’t have this section, or they tell you not to self submit. That’s just the breaks. But does this really work? Is my cover letter and headshot really being looked at by an agent and not just an intern who is told to dismiss any and all self submissions. Honestly? Maybe. BUT, that does not mean you should not send in a submission anyway, because you never know! We live in a crazy world us actors and I’ve seen, heard, and even been a part of successful self submission stories. Side note, if you happen to be SAG it never hurts to put ‘SAG ACTOR/ACTRESS’ in the subject line.
Lastly, CREATE! Go out and make films! Create skits with your friends, post monologues, write, do anything that’s going to bring people together even if it’s just one person. What does any of that have to do with getting an agent? Everything! Just because you get an agent doesn’t mean you should stop working and wait for the phone to ring. In fact, that’s the quickest way to lose an agent. So why should you not be creating? In fact, chances are agents will want to know what you’re working on when they meet you anyway, and if the answer is “nothing”, then you have a problem. Build your circle. This is a small industry and people talk, and believe me when I say word gets around very quickly. Get agents to come to you! Besides workshops, self submissions, and showcases, the last way to get an agent is word of mouth. You meet people with representation that WANT to introduce you to their agent because of the work you are putting out. Nothing is more attractive to an agent than an actor who is out hustling on a daily basis! That’s the competition. Actors that are out every day writing, collaborating, studying films, learning languages doing anything and everything to better themselves which in turn makes them a better actor. To take a line out of ‘Field of Dreams’... “If you build it, they will come.” So go build it!
I’m concluding this blog post with this. Maybe none of what I just wrote was helpful. Truth is, there are a lot of people that want an easy way to get representation or an audition or whatever it may be. This industry is not designed to make things easy, it’s designed to make things hard. It’s designed to weed people out. The actors I know who are working are working for one sole reason. They just LOVE to act. That’s it. They love to act and will do whatever it takes to get out, be seen, and create stories. Again, this is just my opinion based on my experiences and I hope you got something out of this. Everyone has their own method and ideology on the entertainment industry, and this was mine. So go make something and I hope to be collaborating with some of you in the future!