Q: 1.What’s the best way to find and get signed with an agency? 2.How do you know if the agency is reliable and will get you far?
Actors often ask this question, as practical concerns are part of the life of an actor. So, let’s get started on this two-parter!
The first consideration I want us to commit to is: you love acting. The whole reason you want to purse professional opportunities to act is because you love the craft of acting. It is easy to get confused or distracted in the business of acting, by the thought, “do they like me?”. Especially when interviewing for agents or people to represent you. But that is not the fundamental thought that will serve you. Everything you are doing comes from your love for your craft and that is your foundation and your purpose.
The best move you can make from this love is to get really good at it. Take classes, train, study, read plays, see plays, pay attention to the details of your daily life and ask yourself how they move you. Journal. What makes you tick? Keep conditioning your mind, body, and emotional life in every way you can. Keep becoming better at what you love to do.
When you are ready, you will start auditioning. You can upload a picture and resume to www.actorsaccess.com and create a profile, so when projects that are right for you are casting, you will be notified and then can submit yourself for an audition! They will most likely send you material to prepare. The great reason to self-submit, is that then you can gain some experience, if you are cast. If you are cast in film projects (I suggest young actors do student films, these are some great, creative projects and the directors of the future), you can get some footage on yourself or a “reel”, and this help people cast you as well. It’s good to have a reel with your picture and resume up on actors access. It’s also good to have all this going on when you start to approach agents.
An agent will partner with you because they believe that if they submit you for work you may book it, and when you do, they get a percentage of your paycheck. That is their job and how they make a living. You don’t ever pay an agent upfront for anything. An agent sees something in you, and is inspired to believe that you will work as an actor. It’s that simple. So as prepared a package as you can have when you meet with this potential future business partner, the easier it will be to see if it’s a good fit for you both.
Agents are people. Each one is an individual with their own lives, experiences, and tastes, just like you. So while this is a business relationship, it’s development is a little more personal because you are an actor and you are you own instrument. So, it can feel personal whether they want to represent you or not. It isn’t. If you are completely prepared and are doing your best, the right match will come along. It is parallel to any relationship in that way. You aren’t in a relationship with everyone you meet, but sometimes you have enough in common with someone that you want to spend more time together. Agents aren’t your friends. It’s a professional partnership, where you are a prepared and dependable actress, and they are prepared and dependable at getting you opportunities to act.
You want to do your research, in your case, on the best agents for youth. Trade papers/websites for actors have annual listings of vetted agents, and their qualifications, and how they prefer to be contacted. If you have friends in your age group that are represented, you can ask them for referrals. Once you have a list and your package together, you can send it to the agents you want to work with requesting a meeting.
You can also ask the people you know who know who are working with good agents tomake a call or set up an email introduction on your behalf. Meet as many as you can until one feels really right. Again, there is a chemistry involved just like any good relationship. Maybe you get a great energy from the agent, they answer all of your questions in a way you trust and understand, you feel excited to embark on a relationship with them where they submit you for work. If all of these elements are in place, wonderful!!
If not, you can keep looking for the right fit. Also, you may want to be with their agency, but they don’t think it’s the right fit. An Emmy winning casting director said to me once: “rejection is gods protection”. This wasn’t meant as a religious statement, we all have our own relationship with the god of our choice. It was a remark on the spiritual nature of life. Sometimes, you think you want something, don’t get it, and realize later it was better that you didn’t. Choosing to trust the process is working for you, is a choice you can make, and a positive mindset .
In terms of the agency being reliable, you know in your gut if they are. If you are sensing they aren’t reliable, you are probably right. But also, do your research and ask around. It is not difficult to look on IMDB and see who their clients are and if they are working. It’s also okay to start out with smaller boutique agencies, but you need to feel confident that they feel reliable and that you can depend on them. If they are newer, this is going to require you asking twice as many questions about their goals and what exactly they plan on doing for you. Sometimes this situation can work beautifully, because you are both starting out together.
Finally, it’s a partnership. Good agents can definitely help you develop your career. Good agents love what they do and hustle, care, have industry contacts, and are pitching you to them. Good agents will communicate with you, give you feedback on your auditions, and help to make you better. Every good actor that is committed should have this. But it is not essential to work.
You can be working on your craft every day. You are not dependent on a representative to be working. In fact, the best relationships with agents are when you are both giving 100% to your career. If only one of you is, the relationship won’t work. The actor has to keep acting while their agent is submitting them. They have to keep training, dong plays, building relationships with other actors that are putting projects together, watching shows, plays, films that have parts for you. It’s a two-way partnership, and the better you are, the easier it is to represent you!
In the meantime, let your love of the craft of acting spur you on! Create you actors access profile, submit yourself for work. Take classes. Pay attention to art of all kinds. Read plays and screenplays. Condition your instrument. Then when the opportunity comes for that great partnership with your future agent, you will be ready!
Please send your specific questions about the art of acting to [email protected] and Kymberly will respond to a different question each week! There are no invalid questions, as long as they pertain to your craft and life as an actor.
Kymberly Harris is an actor’s director. She specializes in character-driven stories, whether the genre is drama, comedy, thriller, or action. Her extensive experience as a method acting coach to professional actors of all ages has led actors to seek her out to direct them towards their best performances in film, television, and theatre projects.