7 Things Every Actor Should Know About Talent Agents

1One of the first steps I’ve seen actors need to take when wanting to break into film, TV, or commercial acting is to seek a talent agent.  But oftentimes, when actors are new, they jump at the chance to be represented by any agent, frequently going with the first one to show interest. Unfortunately, some of these agents who find you are not to be trusted.  Think about it… with so many actors trying to get legitimate agents, why would an agent who is supposedly experienced be trying to find a newbie or someone with just a few credits?

Whether you are brand new or an experienced veteran, there are certain qualities and qualifications to look for in an agent.  Here are 7 things you should know before signing with them.

1. Legitimate talent agents have to be licensed by the state and post a bond to negotiate for you.

The first step in checking on an agent’s legitimacy is to see if they are licensed by the state.  To legally negotiate for you, they must post a bond to do so.  If the agent is not licensed, they are not a legitimate agency.  (The same is NOT true for managers since they do NOT have to be licensed by the state.)

2. A talent agent can be great for someone else, but really bad for you, or vice versa.

Even if a talent agent represents a well-known actor, they may not be well suited for you.  Or if they are your best friend’s agent, they may work better with certain personalities.   It is important to find someone you can easily relate to, who you feel understands your goals and perspectives, and who is easy to reach when necessary.

A talent agent can be great for someone else, but really bad for you, or vice versa.

 3. Many talent agents are struggling to be successful just like you are.

This is, after all, their career, as well as yours. Talent agents work hard for your career behind the scenes, but are in an equally competitive profession. Know that their position of getting you in the door for an audition can be as challenging as it is for you to get auditions and land a role.

4. A certain percentage of talent agents wanted to be actors, but were missing either the guts or the talent to pursue their career.

Many talent agent have been in your position of wanting a successful acting career, but for some reason became agents instead – not all of them, mind you, but some. Although for some of these agents, representing actors may not have been their first career choice, but they may have found they were better at that than acting.  However, their acting experience will also give them first-hand knowledge of the amount of talent and energy it takes to create a successful acting career.   If you learn that they had wanted to be actors before, try to see the bright side of it.

5. Talent agents hate it when actors are difficult to deal with — you may be difficult for them and not even realize it.

Keep an open line of communication with your agent and find out their specific expectations. Use basic common sense to make yourself seem easy to work with.  For example, be on time and never miss an audition!   This drives agents batty and some have rules that they will drop you if you miss two auditions.

Also, find out their specific guidelines on how (and how often) they want you to best communicate.  And very importantly, discuss how must notice you are supposed to give them when you are going to be out of town.  There is a certain lag time for scheduling auditions.  They want to know if you’ll be gone so they won’t submit you in that time period.

6. Talent agents always say, “It’s slow right now,” but that doesn’t mean anything for you.

Although things may be slow for them, it doesn’t mean things are slow overall.   There may be lots going on in the business, just not with them!  For you, you need to stay in action and have some patience but not too much.  If they say it’s slow – maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.  The main thing is to keep taking actions to get auditions.  And after a while, you may need to think about getting a new agent if they keep saying the same thing.

7. Talent agents would love for you to be super successful so they can say they discovered you.

As a whole, your agent is looking out for your interest, as well as theirs, when it comes to success. They want to have successful clients and will do what it takes to promote your strengths as an actor. Your success is their primary goal because you are the means for their success.

They may not be as focused on you individually as you would like, but give them the benefit of the doubt and do what you can to help them help you be successful.  You both want that!

The bottom line here is that, although your talent agent is working for you, there is more than just business at hand. Your agent is a person as well. Building a good relationship with the right agent who you can trust and work with is important. Choose the right person carefully to ensure it is a long, happy, and successful  relationship.