Finding actual parts to audition for is challenging and tiring when you are an aspiring actor looking for roles.
You need someone reliable whose job is to fuel your opportunity tank and give you as many chances to succeed as possible.
The person that you need to help you is an agent.
This article provides the essential steps for this transformative task, taking you from being an aspiring actor to represented talent.
Why should you trust this? I am hired by three different acting agencies in the United States and have used the guidelines below for all three of those agencies to hire me.
Table of Contents
How to Get an Agent
Finding an acting agent may sound complicated, especially with some famous companies (such as Creative Artists Agency) that go on referral only.
Still, many talent management companies are seeking people like you to submit.
As long as you know how to begin getting hired with an agency, you will find the rest of the steps easy!
To book an agent, you must ensure you have all the proper materials to your liking and professional standards. If you have nothing to give agents as a starting point, they have nothing to work with to see if you are a good fit for them.
Get a professional photographer to take some good headshots of you.
Let’s start with headshots. To be brought onto an agency’s forum, you must have good headshots taken to apply.
I recommend at least two headshots and a character shot or two– something to showcase your personality without being over the top.
If you want some ideas, look online for headshots of other actors to see what is commonplace with them.
For instance, they usually have a solid background and good lighting, showcasing your face.
Remember that you are the product you are selling, so make sure you are the photo’s focal point.
If you change your physical looks, ensure it is reflected with updated headshots. No agency will bring you on as an actor if you look different than the photo you submitted initially.
Getting new headshots at least annually is also a good idea to keep things consistent.
Keep your acting resumè up to date.
Along with your headshots, you will need an updated acting resumė.
Formatting should include your name and demographics at the top (meaning height, weight, eye color, and hair color) with work in sections underneath.
“In sections” means divided by what kind of work it is- do you have film experience? Awesome- put that in one section. How about previous theatre roles? Excellent! Put that in another segment underneath the film.
Lines should include the title of the project, what kind of part you had, the year the project was released/performed, and the production company’s name.
Here is an example:
|Title of Project
This format provides the information the agents need and looks professional and crisp. If you want more detailed templates to go off of, there are a lot of examples on Google.
If you have close to no acting credits and are unsure what to put, make sure you are thinking of everything. Feel free to be creative as long as the experience is relevant.
Did you make short films with your siblings ten years ago? Put it in there- that is some acting experience on camera to contribute.
If you were in a play in high school, put that on there as well. Once you gain traction and have more recent credits, you can replace the old roles with the new ones.
Make sure to keep your resumė about a page long, though.
You can have a little over that length, but agents go through things quickly, and if you put too much information and your resumė is too long, they could become uninterested.
Agents will not want to spend too much time deciphering a long, confusing acting resume.
Remember to include any special skills you might have
On the bottom of the resumė, make sure to put a section on special skills, which are talents that you feel should be marketable.
Examples are singing, improvisation, and unicycling. If you take or have taken an acting class, you can also have a separate section for education. This will be a good thing for agents to see.
Draft a cover letter.
After the resumė is done, it may be beneficial for you to draft a cover letter. While this is not required for agency representation in most places, an acting agency here or there may ask for one.
After getting your marketing materials in order, you can start looking for a good agent.
Where to Find An Agent
Finding someone to represent you is easier said than done but is doable.
However, figuring out what you are looking for and where you need to be represented simplifies everything, and things will fall into place.
What do I mean by “where”?
“Where” is the region that you want to be represented that correlates with where you are currently living.
For example, if you are living in Chicago and have no plans of moving soon, finding an agent who will work with you in Los Angeles will not be very likely because it will not benefit either of you in any way.
So, find the agencies in your region to apply to.
But where should you look to find them?
Track down official company websites.
The easiest way to navigate to the best agencies in your area is by finding their company websites.
The site will have background information on how the agency started, its current staff, and where they are located, along with many other helpful pieces of information.
Finding an agent in the United States
If you are looking for companies in the United States, start by looking at websites with guaranteed legitimate sources, such as the SAG-AFTRA site.
Using the SAG-AFTRA website as a resource is a great way to start- it shows the agencies in your area with union affiliation, making them legitimate and followers of SAG guidelines.
If you go to the page, go to the “Select A Local” dropdown, pick your designated area, and select “Search, ” you will find the affiliated agencies that may represent you.
Once you see an agency that appeals to you and you go to their website, you will see how they accept submissions. It is most common that there will be something to fill out on the website or an e-mail address for you to send your materials to.
Phone numbers are provided to reach the office, but do not call for representation (this is even mentioned on many agency websites).
Finding an Agent Outside the United States
If you are looking outside the United States or prefer a broader search, try IMDb Pro.
While they require an annual subscription fee, they are a helpful resource for anything regarding film, including the talent agencies to which actors are attached.
Plus, having an IMDb page looks good for any actor, and you can put the agencies representing you on your IMDb Pro page.
Going on IMDb Pro, you can search for talent agencies specifically. Plus, everything is ranked on IMDb by current popularity each week, including businesses, so you can figure out which are worth your time.
You can also Google “best acting agencies in my area,” which is free. However, there will be some results that you need to filter through for their reliability, so be prepared for that to be a little bit more of a complex process.
What to Send to An Agent
After finding an agency that you resonate with and are within your means to work with, and after you have looked at their site and found their email address/link for new talent to send their submissions, you need to figure out exactly what to say.
After all, you want to make a good impression.
What to do
So, what do you do?
Sending a concise message with a professional greeting is a solid place to start. State your name and why you are emailing.
Next, put your general location, followed by your education if applicable.
Lastly, mention the headshot and resumė, which you will attach to the email.
End with a polite closer.
It should look something like this (feel free to copy-paste this email template):
My name is Jane Doe, and I am seeking representation from your agency. I am an actor based in New York, New York. I graduated from Theatre School in New York, obtaining a BA in 2015. Attached are my headshot and resumė. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.
This format (or something similar) allows the agent to get the basic information they need to consider representation.
What not to do
Like the earlier point regarding your resumė, do not lengthy your message.
An agent is always busy and receives submissions from actors, so a long e-mail will not benefit you. Keep it short and sweet but contain all the necessary information.
Also, do not follow up after sending your initial email.
As stated before, calling the office is a big “no-no” in this.
Usually, agencies have something on their site like “If we are interested, we will reach out to schedule a meeting,” so a second email asking if they received your submission is also unnecessary.
After this is sent, the agency may respond within the next couple of weeks with an offer to interview, which is the next step of the process.
You want to be prepared for the first meeting with a potential agent.
What to Do When Interviewing with an Agency
When interviewing to work with an agency, you want to show your marketability more than anything.
A few aspects go into this, starting with what to wear.
What to wear
This one is pretty simple- dress professionally. Nothing too over-the-top, but not too relaxed.
It’s like a job interview, where you want to showcase your personality without being too casual.
What to bring
Next is what to prepare for the interview.
Bringing another copy of your resumė, while not necessary, looks professional and is something I suggest. This shows your preparation for the meeting and your organizational skills.
You can bring your headshot if you want (note that sometimes agencies instruct you not to bring these materials in, so if told not to, skip this step).
What to expect: the monologue
Most of the time, the agents will want to see what kind of talent you have. After all, it’s not just about looks.
You may be asked to memorize a monologue before the interview. You can use the same monologue for multiple interviews.
For the monologue, use something that showcases the kind of character you would be hired for.
Here’s an excellent article of one minute monologues for females, males, teenagers, and kids you can use for practicing and memorizing for auditions.
Actors always have a type they are best for, and while you can separate yourself from that to an extent, doing something opposite will not be helpful to you.
I suggest doing something more uncommon, as well.
For example, Ryan Gosling’s monologue from The Notebook is used more often than an excerpt from Nick Payne’s Constellations. Don’t do something because it’s popular- do it because it resonates with you because that will show when you perform.
I also recommend memorizing something from a play instead of a film or television show since some places require that, and it will be more usable in the long run.
Also, take a look at these 25 movie monologues for inspiration.
Lastly (and this one is the most important thing), bring confidence!
You are the one selling the product, which is you. No one knows you better than you do, so be sure of your abilities to be hired and start getting professional, paid acting roles.
Hopefully, all of the preparation you have done and all of the assets you are bringing with you will only fuel your confidence levels.
Why Hiring an Agent is a Good Idea
With the promise of success at your fingertips, if you try hard enough and keep believing in yourself, it can sometimes be a rude awakening when that success is so hard to come by a lot of the time.
Becoming an accomplished actor takes some backing, especially when building your foundation.
Even the “discovered” people are set up with agents once their acting roles start coming in.
Agents help clients get auditions, pitch them for roles through their network, follow up on submissions and auditions for you, and facilitate contract negotiations.
That’s why most professional actors have at least one agent to assist them.
It’s just a needed part of the business.
A good agent keeps you on track.
An acting agent does the difficult task of finding you legitimate acting work to audition for so that you don’t have to or, even worse, work for a scam (which, unfortunately, is too common – another reason why the SAG-AFTRA website is a good place to look).
I recommend you also read this guide to trusted audition websites.
A good agent consistently provides working actor opportunities and will keep you on the right path regarding roles and career goals.
While you can still use websites or fellow actors to find additional roles, the initial worry of never finding anything is null and void because you have someone doing that task for you, someone whose job it is to do that, who is experienced and talented in what they do.
Remember that you will be working with real industry professionals whose main goal is to expand an actor’s career.
Working with an agent makes you more visible.
Working with an agent also guarantees a profile on various sites. Not only will you be represented by the agency on their site (if they showcase their talent online, which most do), but you will also be on some casting sites such as Casting Networks.
Although a limited subscription, it will still be free of charge since the agency is putting your name and face out there for both their benefit and yours. When hired, your agency will let you know what profile you need to have.
Agents have connections that you do not have, as well.
Since agents have worked in the industry longer and work for actors to find roles daily, they have the social connections needed to help you succeed. They know casting directors and casting calls you might not otherwise see.
Even if you attend mixers and acting classes, you may miss out on the links the agencies have by not hiring them.
Working with an agent is motivating and looks more professional.
Honestly, working with agencies is also motivating. It is so exciting to see an audition in your email inbox, giving you a role to analyze, decide if it is worth your time, and audition and send that out.
Working with an agent will boost your confidence and ability to get even more roles.
If a casting director sees you working with an agent or multiple agents, that looks way better for you since it shows you have professionalism and real industry experience.
Agencies can get work in other parts of the country.
Yet another reason is to expand your marketability to other parts of the country.
Some agencies work with multiple locations, so hiring an agent for the company means you are across the whole organization’s radar. If there is a role perfect for you, they will help you obtain that.
Agencies can help you with your demo reel and more
Finally, an agent can help you acquire other industry resources, such as a demo reel.
I know that when I started with one of my agencies, reaching out to my agent for help was an excellent way to accomplish this crucial step in my acting career.
With all of these benefits, is it still worth it with the percentage of rejections you might face?
You may submit to what feels like a thousand agencies without hearing a response, which may feel discouraging. Plus, it takes a lot of time and effort on your part to achieve the outcome that you are seeking.
Remember that the agents are doing their job as well, that’s all. Nothing is personal; they may not see you as the right fit for their company.
Why Trying is a Good Idea Also
Even with all the extra work on your part and the rejections you might (and probably will) get, it is still a good idea to work on getting representation.
It is the best way to put yourself out there.
It may take more than one, ten, or fifteen tries before hiring an agent, but that is okay. Consistency is key! So keep trying!
Remember that you are working towards your future, and building a reputable career takes time and willpower.
Also, remember that your story differs from those around you, so don’t compare yourself to other actors out there- especially those already walking on red carpets most of the time.
When it comes down to it, you should keep trying because it makes you better.
You will get better at finding out what headshots work best for you, polishing your resumė, and writing emails.
You will finesse your monologue and remember it at the drop of a hat.
You will make connections by reaching out to agencies (because even if they don’t work with you now, they may remember you later on).
If something doesn’t work out the way you planned, the good news is that it can still work out in a completely new and exciting way.
Even though it can be a lot of work, keep trying, keep working, and keep auditioning.
There is no time frame you have to make, no good reason to rush- keep going.
There are agents out there waiting for new actors like you, and you will find the right talent agent to represent you and who has your best interest in mind.
There is plenty of paid work for you in the entertainment industry. But you need to know how to find it.
To be more specific, you need to know who can find it for you.
Finding an agent is necessary for your hobby to become a career and your dream to become a reality, and I highly recommend it. It’s an important step and career choice if you are serious about your acting career.
Once you know the steps, it is consistent in how things work, and it’s not a difficult process.
Hopefully, this article has helped you along.
Good luck on your journey, and I hope you land a good acting agent soon.