There are two types of talent agents, theatrical (television and film) and commercial (for television commercials). Being with the same agency for both is called being “signed across the board,” but many actors prefer to have separate agents for different types of work, become some agencies can be better commercially, but not as good theatrically, or vice versa.
Agents get information about auditions for roles, either directly from casting directors and producers calling them asking for client submissions, or from a service called “the breakdowns,” a daily list of roles being cast, sent only to agents and managers.
Agents work for you, but they only get 10% of what you make, so that means you need to do 90% of the work – especially when you are getting started. That means always be professional, be skilled in acting, network and let casting directors, producers and directors know about your work & upcoming performances by sending out postcards & invitations, know your “type”, and make sure you and your agent have an understanding about what kinds of parts you will be submitted for.
Do not randomly stop by agents offices unannounced, they do not accept personal drop-offs. Avoid calling the office for now. Simply send in your 8″ X 10″ color photo and resume, along with a brief cover letter. Show the agents that you understand how valuable their time is by keeping the cover letter short and sweet. Far too many actors end up writing a long cover letter, and the agents end up just trowing it in the “circular file” aka trash can.
This is a sample of a good cover letter:
4321 Superstar Street
Beverly Hills CA 90210
Attn: Mr. Agent
Enclosed you will find my photo and resume for your consideration. I am currently seeking theatrical (and/or commercial) representation. Please feel free to contact me at the above phone number or email address.
Now the agent even has a few moments to actually look at the photo and resume!
Then after about a week, give them a quick call and just say your name, tell them that you sent in a photo and resume, and that you are calling back as a follow up. They will usually write your name down, and say that they will give you a call if interested, or we are reviewing it, etc. Again, just keep it short and show them that you value their time. They will be pleasantly surprised.
Say something like…..
“No problem, I don’t want to take up your time, but wanted to make a quick call to see if you are interested”.
They’ll either be impressed (and relieved) at the brief conversation, or will be so caught off guard that they’ll try to explain further. If they haven’t said goodbye, then just repeat a variation of your previous words (always offering them a chance to end the conversation and reinforcing that you know their time is valuable). Agents get tired off so many actors calling and somewhat begging, “can I come in for an interview”, or “I am very talented and would be a great addition to your roster”. If you follow these steps, keep your letter and conversation brief, the agent will most likely appreciate it.
Many agents these days do not track submissions and will merely inform you of this when you call. Also, several of the top agencies do not accept unsolicited photo and resume submissions, they only accept new clients through industry referral. So purchasing the Hollywood Representation Directory is a very good idea because it lists the agents that do accept unsolicited submissions. It also lists the names of all of the different agents that work at the agency. You can purchase the Hollywood Representation Directory here:
Hollywood Representation Directory: April 2009
Tips & Warnings
* Agents making their living by earning a percentage of each job they book for a model. Do not pay any up-front fees to an agent.
* If you’re not happy with the number of auditions or bookings you are getting, set up an appointment with your agent and discuss what you can do to generate more jobs.
* If the agent lies to you, makes outrageous promises or asks for up-front money (to cover phone calls or mailing expenses on your behalf), keep looking. Legitimate agents do not ask for expense money.