So you’ve landed an agent! Now you can finally relax, put your feet up and wait as the jobs just roll in! That’s it, you’re completely set for life! All you have to do now is start writing your Oscars acceptance speech… Sadly, this is not the case, having an agent is awesome but it is far from the be-all and end-all of working as an actor. Now you have opportunities for professional work it’s important to know your role and relationship with your agent, keep working on your craft, hustle and keep cranking out some scene work! You and your agent are a team, a team working together towards the bigger goal of success and like any good team you each have your roles that compliment each other!
The actor – agent relationship
The first thing you need to get a handle on in this new agent filled world is the following, what is my relationship with my agent? What can I do to ensure they’re putting me up for the kind of work I want to go for? It’s really important that you have an open and honest conversation with your agent about your goals as an actor, in which mediums you want to work and get work and if there are any areas you are not so interested in. Also having a conversation about what you can do as an actor to maximise your chances of booking roles. If your agent asks you to put down a few tapes or to send them material, get new headshots or update your showreel, take that information on board.
Of course, some agents are more reputable than others. We have a handy guide here about what to avoid in an acting agent. Discuss how much contact they expect, friends of mine speak to their agents every week, check-in and have a phone call about life and the industry. I speak to mine after an audition to let them know how it went. So discuss what that looks like for you. You don’t want to be annoying to them, but you do want to be on their mind as much as possible, so when a role comes up they think of you! Simply having an agent isn’t enough to book you jobs, you need to cultivate a positive, professional working relationship with your agent.
Remember they work for you, they only get paid when you do, so you need to work together if you are going to be successful.
Keep working on your craft
It’s really important that once you have an agent, you do not stop trying to improve as an actor. Acting is hard, it really is, it is massively challenging and every time you do it, it’s different. There’s the skill of performance and there’s managing your own anxiety and need to book a gig or impress people that your performing for. It’s a battle of ego, skill, pressure and creativity all wrapped into one. For this reason, working on your skills as an actor is really important. You must keep reading plays, working on scenes, learning monologues, your voice, accents and so on.
Usually, to get an agent, you have had to fight really hard. If you get that reel, headshot and CV up to a really high level and to just let all of that good work stagnate while you hang out at home, eat fried chicken and play video games, is a huge waste!
Additionally, it shows your agent how passionate about the craft you are if you are constantly working on it and improving they will throw more work your way, in the knowledge that your skills and work is on point.
If you thought your days of hustling were over now you have an agent, you are going to be sorely disappointed. The hustle never ends ladies and gentlemen, as Alec Baldwin says in Glengarry Glen Ross “Always be hustling” well, not quite but you know what I mean. Your network of directors, writers, actors and producers is going to get you as much if not more work than your agent. Those relationships, and meeting people in your local industry is absolutely vital. If they need help, helping them out can be a great way to show them you’re good value as a human being. Maybe doing some extras work if they’re in a tight spot, helping out on set, reading a few scripts for them and offering constructive feedback, reading at auditions etc.
It’s also why it is so important to make a good impression when you go in and audition for a project, you might not be right for the role you audition for but the long-game here is vital. I recently got cast in a play off an audition I did over a year ago! I didn’t get a role back then, but I stuck in the director’s mind, when something new came up they immediately thought of me and next thing you know I’m in a play!
One of the most useful things for agents in the modern media landscape is the self-tape. They can use your self-tapes to shop you around for roles with casting directors and producers. In a way they are a modern calling card, that can give production companies an idea of your vibe and skills as a performer without seeing you audition. They also show your agent your range, and might inspire them to throw you up for a different style of project.
Long story short, send your agent tapes, send them as often as you can. It is unlikely they will get the chance to watch all of your tapes all the way through – agents are very busy people, but it does show them your passion for the craft, your skill at what you do and as you get better they will be able to recognise that too. There really is no downside to this practice. Finally, it means you will be regularly practising your craft which is always a good option.
So get a few actor friends around and shoot a few tapes! If you live in a remote environment or don’t have many actor friends around, why not sign up for our online scene club, it’s seven bucks for the first month, you get new scenes to work on each month, constructive feedback on your performance from our team of experts, access to a digital theatre subscription and a play library of over 2000 plays. So pretty much everything you need to work on as an actor in one handy location. Check it out here!
Put simply, having an agent is not enough. You have to keep working on yourself, improving at your craft, hustling for gigs, fostering that positive relationship with your representation and put down scenes on tape like it’s going out of fashion. Good luck with your new agent and I hope you book all of the jobs!