There comes a point in every actor’s life where they start thinking about getting an agent. Or is it a talent agency? They might sound like the same thing, but they are not. A talent agency is a business that represents and finds entertainment gigs for hundreds, if not thousands of actors in their database. Whereas, an agent is someone who exclusively represents you (and maybe a few others), but they are personally invested in your talent and your success. So which one should you get? Well, that’s up to you! But here are a few things you should know about each in order to make your decision.
Talent agencies are much easier to come by and are a great place to start, but there are certain things you should know before starting your search.
Tip #1 – A talent agency should NEVER ask you for money. If they do, it’s a scam or a business trying to trick you into thinking it’s a talent agency. A talent agency should only take around 10% – 20% out of your check, ONCE you get booked. They only make money when they book you. Also, if any agency is trying to take more than 20% of your check, then look elsewhere.
Tip #2 – Find a talent agency that is invested in you and knows your talent. Watch out for talent agencies that accept your application too quickly. Some agencies just want to raise the amount of actors they have to be seen as a “bigger” agency. They might just accept anybody who submits! How can an agency book you if they don’t know your talent? They won’t! You’ll just become a number in their system.
Tip #3 – When you first start applying to talent agencies, you have to go through an interview process. A good talent agency will ask you for headshots and resumes, then they will schedule a phone interview and lastly, ask you to come in for an in-person interview. This is what I want you to remember, even though they are technically interviewing you… you are also interviewing them. This is a two sided partnership, so you want to make sure you pick an agency where you feel they will best represent you. Like I said before, a lot of agencies will treat you like a number, but a good agency will get to know you and learn your strengths. They will look at casting calls and think of YOU if they think you’re a good fit. For example, my talent agency has personally texted me when they have an exciting booking for me, sometimes they even call me! That’s the kind of relationship you want to look for when picking a talent agency.
Finding yourself a talent agent can really help you soar in the industry, with that being said… they are hard to come by. An agent is someone who is very well connected in the entertainment industry and has personally invested themselves in booking you and making you.. a STAR! This can also be a little dangerous. You want to be careful in who you trust because this talent agent will get to know you really well. The internet can be a scary place, so you don’t want to go with the first agent that pops up in your google search. You want someone who is known in the community and has a good reputation. Agents like that are very hard to find, and even if you do… how do you get yourself in front of them? They are definitely a hot commodity!
I personally have been doing a lot of research on this lately and have talked to people that are represented by agents, these are the tips they gave me.
Tip #1 – Get advice from actors that have had an agent for a long time. Ask them about the industry and maybe some things they wish they knew when they were younger. Don’t be afraid to ask them for their agents information or any other agents they might recommend!
Tip #2 – If you find an agent, personally reach out to them and don’t give up! Write a cover letter, send your reel and resume, mail them a handwritten letter… anything to get their attention. Show them you are determined and motivated. This shows them that you would be a great investment.
Tip #3 – Be careful who you trust. Like I said before, an agent will be personally invested in you because they believe you have “star quality”. You want to be careful on how invested an agent can become, because they might start wanting to get you booked for the wrong reasons. You’ll become a money machine for them and they might stop caring about your well-being. Set boundaries with your agent at the beginning and invest some time on building a good relationship that will last you a long time!
The real question is, do we even need talent agencies and agents anymore? That’s up to you! Now we have access to different platforms like Backstage, Playbill, and Actors Access that allow us to submit ourselves directly to casting directors. This takes the middle man out (talent agencies and agents). I think having a little bit of everything will always benefit you as an actor, especially because it’s such an inconsistent lifestyle. But I do recognize the importance of having an agent pitching you and making connections that you might otherwise not have! Whatever you choose to do, make sure to do your research and to always trust your gut!
Jessie Dez is a graduate from Palm Beach Atlantic University where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree, with concentrations in Musical Theater and Broadcast Journalism. As an actress, she has performed all over South Florida with well-known companies, such as Delray Beach Playhouse, MNM Theatre Company, Warner Bros Entertainment Inc, Lake Worth Playhouse, etc. Not only have you seen her on stage, but on television as well. As a television host for Living Local FL TV, Jessie has been on FOX 29 highlighting all the best places to eat, shop and play in South Florida. Jessie is thrilled to mix her passion of theater and journalism into her writing and content creation for The South Florida Theater Magazine.