At StageMilk, we interact daily with actors of all ages and experience levels from all over the world. One of the most common goals for actors who are beginning their journey, regardless of age or experience, is to sign with an acting agent. A lot of work goes into finding (and landing) an agent, and you probably don’t want to be starting this process again in a year or two because you rushed the process/decision. Therefore, making sure that the timing is right for you to begin your search, is going to to play a big part in securing yourself a good agent who you can work with for years to come.
As a general rule, you should be looking to get an agent when you have just enough work to demonstrate your ability as an actor. Whilst you want to get an agent as early in your career as possible, your ability to secure a top tier agent will increase with the amount of experience you accumulate.
Timing is everything when you’re trying to secure an acting agent. You want to make sure that the time is right for you to seek out representation to give yourself the best possible chance, and because first impressions count! Let’s look at some of the key things you need to consider.
When to Get an Acting Agent
Where are you in your acting career?
If you have just started out, or just returned to acting after a long break, you may need to spend some time exploring the industry, accumulating experience and creating networks before launching into an agent hunt. Why? Because doing these things will give you a chance at securing a better agent when you do begin the process. If you think about it from the perspective of the agent, what sort of proof are you providing that you’re a) a good actor, b) that you are committed to this career, and c) that you will be able to book gigs. Now, the last one is pretty hard to prove, and often out of your control, so leave that up to the agent. But the first two? Those are definitely things you can prove to your potential agent when you submit a good showreel, and a solid CV of work.
Where you are in your life?
If you’re an older actor who is returning to acting after a lot of time off, you could be feeling the pressure to secure an agent quickly to make up for any ‘time lost’. What you should consider, however, is that you’re probably now in a casting pool that is much smaller than when you left off. For a whole host of reasons, people will begin to leave acting in their thirties and forties to pursue other careers, or have families. As you get older, therefore, there are naturally fewer and fewer actors your age, and this can be an advantage. But what you want to make sure to do, is create a package that indicates to your potential agent that you’re a good actor, and you’re committed to this career, otherwise you may find yourself with an agent who exclusively sends you out for extras work.
If you’re in early adulthood, and looking for an agent, there is a lot to consider. If you’re planning to train at an institution, it could be worth holding off on signing with an agent for now, as yoy may very well secure a much better agent as a result of your graduation showcase. Similarly, if you want to attend workshops and courses to brush up on your skills, you may find that in the process you will build up a portfolio of great self-tapes that you can choose from in creating a package to send to agents. There are a number of reasons to hold off on submiting to agents in this age bracket; perhaps you’re performing in a show later this year and want to time your search so that you can invite agents to that. Or maybe you’re getting some money together to get better headshots. Or you’re not entirely happy with the quality of your show reel, and you want to include new work. These are all great reasons to hold off a tiny bit longer and make sure you give yourself the best chance when you do finally send out that email. The only reason to rush into getting an agent would be if you have managed to score yourself a big gig and you either need help managing it, or you want to capitalise on the opportunity of coming to an agent with the offer of a big contract.
When to Get an Acting Agent as a Teenager
If you’re a young person, and still in school, it can feel like the pressure is already there to start your acting career now, especially when we see so many young people on our screens. And there are certainly some pros to starting your career early, but they should be weighed up against the pros of continuing your education and establishing a balanced start to your life. There is definitely a balance to be struck here, and having a conversation with your parents about approaching an agent, and starting your career, with minimal disruption to your education, is definitely worth doing. One thing to note though, is that a lot of top tier agents will sign very few (if any) actors under the age of eighteen, and agents who cater exclusively to children are rarely of high quality and will play a very short-lived role in your life. If you can, focus on taking classes and joining local youth programs. If your youth theatre is respected in the industry, good agents may very well come to performances and scout young actors from there.
What Does an Acting Agent Do?
An agent is the key relationship you will have in your career as an actor. They are your first port of call and connection to the industry. As well as offering you advice and negotiating your contracts, the key role an agent will play in your life is getting you acting auditions. An agent should have great relationships with the casting directors in your city/region, and can, therefore, submit you for a role when you match a brief that is sent out by those casting directors. Your agent’s ability to get you an audition that you are suitable for, is often what differentiates a good agent from a great one. Depending on the agent, some agents will also help you to manage your online acting profiles and, if your audition requires a self-tape, can submit your auditions for you.
Learn more about: What Does An Acting Agent Do?
In some regions, the roles described above can be divided between an agent and a manager. This is particularly true if you’re working within the U.S. Check out our article on What Is the Difference Between and Agent and a Manager? for more information.
Do I Need an Agent to Become an Actor?
Whilst you don’t neccesarily need an agent to become an actor, being a freelance actor is very difficult. There is a reason why most working actors have agents, and it’s because sooner or later in your career the benefits of having an agent will far outweigh the benefits of being freelance. Having someone on your team who is an expert in negotiating contracts, and understanding the legalities behind working as an actor will allow you to focus on what you do best: acting. But often, this question comes from actors in the early stages of their career. And often, the question is more specifically: should I sign with a below average agent, or stay freelancing. And this is more complicated. Is it worth holding out and accumulating a few more credits before jumping into the agent hunt process? Or trying your luck now? Our advice would be to cast the net out wide and see which agents are interested in you, because you might get lucky. If you’re not happy with the agents who agree to meet with you, you don’t need to sign with them, and can go back to freelancing until you feel you have a better shot. It’s a process.
If you want more information about what it’s like to freelance as an actor, check out: How to be an Actor Without an Agent.
How Do I Find an Acting Agent?
Start with some research and by compiling a list of agents that you would like to be represented by. You should be looking for agents who represent actors who are working and auditioning consistently. Imdb Pro is a great tool during this research period, as you can use it to search who agents represent, all in one place. You can also visit each individual agency’s website for more information. In compiling this list you should also ask around; other actors are a great source of information on agents. Ask your friends and peers who they’re signed with, and how they’re finding being represented by them. If you ask enough people, patterns will emerge and you will be able to start building an idea of what each agency is like, and whether or not you would like to be represented by them.
You can learn more here: How to Find an Acting Agent.
Ok but, what should you definitely avoid when looking for an agent? Check out our video about agency warning signs:
How Do I Submit to an Acting Agent?
Most agencies will have a section on their website explaining how you should submit if you are an actor aspiring to be represented by them. Some agencies may say that they are not currently accepting submission, and you should probably respect that. But most will direct you to send a CV, headshot, showreel/’sample of your work’ to an email address.
For more information on what to do at this stage of the process, check out: How to Contact Acting Agents.
What Can I Expect when Meeting with an Agent?
If you’ve secured a meeting with an agent, congratulations. That means your package was impressive enough that they are willing to meet with you, which in and of itself is an achievement. Go into this meeting with the confidence that they are interested in you, and you’re meeting to see not only if they would like to sign you, but to confirm that you would like to be represented by them. Maintaining your own empowerment in this meeting is really important.
In preparing for a meeting with an agent, make sure you read: Meeting With an Acting Agent.
Acting Agents Near Me
Looking for an agent in a particular city? We have some well considered lists of reputable acting agents in the following cities: