If you’re reading this you’re probably already considering dropping your agent. But before you make this big decision read the full article.
As an actor your relationship with your agent is one the most important relationships you’ll have. It will outlast romances, friendships and if it’s right, you will work together to form a successful career.
It’s not a good feeling when your acting career isn’t working. It might be a lack of auditions, it might be a lack of work. There are many factors. But though actors like to place blame (or at least I certainly do), it’s not necessarily your agent who is holding your career back.
Before breaking up with your agent…
#1 Have you done all you can do
It’s easy to blame. I love it. But before you say adieu ask yourself have you given your agent a great package to work with?
Headshot. Is your headshot as good as it can be? Does it reflect who you are right now? Having a great headshot is really important and if you don’t have an awesome headshot, it makes your agent’s job pretty tough.
Showreel. Your showreel is vital. Take an objective look at your reel. Are you showcasing yourself in the best possible way? If your reel is not your best work then how can you expect casting directors and producers to call you in for an audition?
CV. Are you being self motivated and finding work on your own? Short films, indie theatre, what have you done recently? Most agents don’t help you get this kind of work, but it’s really valuable for gaining experience and making connections in the industry.
If any of these are lacking, make some updates before parting ways. Work with your agent or manager to decide what you need to do next. If they won’t meet up or have a chat about refining these elements, that’s not a good sign…
#2 Auditioning well?
How are your auditioning chops? Do you get good feedback from your auditions? If you’re getting castings and not booking jobs, it’s more likely on you, not your agent.
Do some more training and work on your auditioning technique. If you can find a specific acting class on auditioning or screen testing that would be ideal. Up your skills and then see how you go.
#3 Have you been clear
It’s amazing how many actors are unsatisfied with their agents, but haven’t ever had an honest conversation with them. Ask for some time to discuss your goals. Sometimes a frank discussion about your goals can help both you and you agent. Maybe they are putting you up for roles that aren’t suitable or saying no to auditions that you would love to be seen for.
Have a candid chat. If you’re close to leaving anyway, what have you got to lose?
#4 Have Patience
Just because your mate is auditioning three times a week and you are auditioning once a month doesn’t necessarily mean their agent is better. Your agent can only do so much, and is probably submitting you for plenty of jobs that you’re not hearing about.
If you’re new to the industry or haven’t got a bunch of work behind you, it’s going to take time.
Big warning signs
#1 Communication breakdown
As I mentioned above, a lack of auditions isn’t a good enough reason to leave your agent. There are many factors at play. However, if you’re struggling and there is little to no communication that is a bad sign. You should feel comfortable to talk with your agent and you should feel like they have time for you. If you’re terrified to call your agent, or they just don’t pick up the phone, well, that ain’t good.
Tip: agents are busy people so I’m not suggesting they will always be there for an hour-long career chat, but you need to be able to communicate with them.
#2 Zero auditions
We’ve all had periods where auditions are scarce. But when does scarce become silly? I would say that if you haven’t had an audition in a few months, and there is no communication or explanation, it’s worth looking at other options.
Tip: there are quiet periods in the industry and especially if you’re a fresh grad you shouldn’t worry about periods without auditions. However, if it’s a sudden change or it feels like you’re getting absolutely nothing that isn’t good. One of the core goals of an agent is to get you auditions.
If you’ve updated your headshot, reel and CV and have followed all the above steps it might be time to start looking for new representation.
The reality, however, is that finding an agent, especially without much work behind you, is tough. I recommend checking out our article on getting an acting agent. I would start putting together a short list and try to establish relationships with prospective agents before approaching.