What’s the best method for showing your talent to a talent agent: Is it a monologue? Is it a prepared scene? Is it a cold reading scene? Is it a demo reel?
The answer depends on the actor. It’s a case-by-case answer because each actor has a unique background. Each actor is at a different level in his or her career. For instance, if you are a veteran actor with great credits and demo footage then of course, let your demo reel speak for you.
These days, talent agents, managers, producers, and casting directors, expect for actors to make it as easy as possible to find, consider, and promote them. That means that actors should have all the necessary promotional assets (resume, photos, demo reels, web sites, etc.). Those assets should be easily found when needed. If they are not, the actor who’s lacking may be passed-over for one of the many other actors in line waiting for their opportunity.
So, in the case of a demo reel, if you are submitting your reel to a commercial talent agent then make sure that you are submitting commercial footage – if available. And if that commercial footage is on a reel with non-commercial footage then make sure the commercial footage has separate video clips. Ideally, you’d separate that commercial footage on to its own commercial reel . If the agent is only interested in representing you commercially then why make them sift through all your other work just to get to what they really want?
If you are a young adult actor then you may not have any credits or demo footage because you’re just starting out in your career. Talent agencies will understand and assume as much. Some talent agents, especially commercial, will give actors “copy” (a scene) that the talent agent will video in order to see what the actor can do.
Feel free beforehand to confirm with the talent agency what you can expect during the meeting. When you know what to expect you can plan ahead.
Maybe you have a demo, but you also have great stage presence and charisma. Then you may want your personality to speak for you rather than your demo. But, keep the demo handy in case it’s requested.
Just know that a great personality and charisma can take you a long way in this business. So, bring your best self to the meeting and win them over regardless of the circumstances. Getting yourself representation should be your main objective.