No matter whether you’re an amateur trying to break into the industry, newly graduated or still working towards your BFA in acting, you’ll need an agent.
A good one.
Trying to convince yourself that you can make it on your own is a fool’s errand – the necessity of an agent has become an inescapable reality for those looking to acquire paid acting work, and you’re only holding yourself back thinking otherwise.
But while there are plenty of people – often outside of the actual business – willing to offer their two-cents on how to get an acting agent, very few people focus on the better question:
How to Find a Kick-Ass Acting Agent
1. Get Your House In Order
If you want to attract someone who won’t represent just anyone, stop being just anyone.
While you shouldn’t ever pay up-front agency fees for them to sign you on (ever), that doesn’t mean getting your own portfolio won’t require a bit of monetary investment. Don’t get your friend to take your headshot on an iPhone – slip a professional photographer a few bucks and get it done properly. Same goes for your physical portfolio; get it printed properly, and even consider hiring a graphic designer to give it a once-over (same goes for hiring a professional video editor to help compile your showreel).
They say substance matters much more than style, and this much is true… but if you’ve already got the substance, dressing it up with a little style certainly doesn’t hurt. You’ll never get a good agent with a shabby-looking portfolio.
2. Get Off The Internet
Although it’s natural to turn to the font of all knowledge – i.e Google – to find what you need, if you’re relying solely on the net in your search for a good agent, you’re selling yourself short.
Just because an agency appears in the first two pages of Google doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the best for you. Do yourself a favor and buy a couple of up-to-date books – physical books – which list industry contacts. It’s difficult to recommend a single edition since there are number of niche titles covering the gamut of acting disciplines and genres, but there’s almost certainly one out there for you.
And if you do stick to using the Internet, remember that the perfect agency for you might be hiding out on page 12, 20 or 200.
3. Follow in Giant Footsteps
A lot of people fire out portfolios almost blindly, their only selection criteria being that the agency is in the same state as them (or continent).
An overlooked trick for better way of narrowing down your options to find the agency that is extremely well suited to you: pick an actor who’s work and style most matches your own.
By finding an agency who has brought a similar actor’s career to great heights, you stand a better chance of being able to work well together on shared goals (and the acting agency is more likely to see potential in you in the first place if they represent similar clients.)
4. Don’t Play Down Your References
Contrary to popular belief, your professional references shouldn’t just be a footnote at the end of your resume. As it stands, quality agencies put a lot of stock in recommendations and contacts of people who’ll be happy to give you a good reference, so definitely make sure they’re prominent in your portfolio.
If you’re scratching your head as to who to list, think outside the box; you don’t need to have worked with Scorsese. Fellow established actors you’ve worked with, MFA in Acting lecturers who have taught you and even workshop leaders are worth their weight in gold…
… Just let the referee know that you plan on name dropping them if they’re okay with it. You don’t want them to reply with “who?” when the agency calls.
5. Getting a Kick-Ass Acting Agent is Not Your End Goal
As mentioned at the start of this post, acquiring a kick-ass acting agent who ‘gets’ you can be a major contributing factor to a successful acting career. However, it’s not the magical bullet that many expect.
To attract a good acting agent, you need to have vision, motivation and a long game. An agent looks for these qualities and can help put them to use, but doesn’t bestow them. Don’t fall into the trap of seeking an agent at the cost of every other opportunity that comes your way, and certainly don’t assume your job is done once you’re accepted by a kick-ass acting agency.
And in the mean time? Get out there and act!