How to Get an Agent for Acting in Film and Television
If you're like many actors, you may realize you need an agent but are unsure about how to find one. The value of an agent is they have industry contacts and insight that you don't—and more importantly, they can find acting gigs for you. When you enlist an agent to represent you, they set up general meetings with executives, producers, and casting directors around town to make an introduction.
The purpose of these meetings is to put a bug in the ear of the prominent decision-makers. That way, when an acting opportunity comes up that matches your gender, age, appearance, and skill level, you'll be considered. Beyond those initial meetings, an agent will also ensure that you're top of mind for fellow agents in related departments at their agency for parts in movies, television, and commercials.
Getting an Agent to Notice You
To attract an agent, start with compiling a compelling demo reel. It's unlikely that an unknown actor will convince agents to come to see them act in plays, short films, or student films. Even so, it's still worth seeking out those types of roles—and documenting them. Agents can review your headshot and resume, but seeing your acting ability in action makes a much better case.
You can also try creating a buzz for yourself by becoming your own producer. Andy Samberg is perhaps the most well-known actor taking this approach. Along with friends, Samberg created comedy videos with their sketch troupe The Lonely Island and posted them on YouTube in the mid-2000s.
The popularity of those videos led them to get an agent, which then led to jobs at "Saturday Night Live." From there, Samberg went on to become a featured player on the series and later starred in movies and other TV shows.
A more recent example is the stars of the sitcom "Those Who Can't." Before landing their own show, this trio of comedians, Adam Cayton-Holland, Ben Roy, and Andrew Orvedahl, wrote and produced a pilot with friends that they sold to Amazon Studios.
Although Amazon Studios didn't order more episodes, the sitcom was later picked up by TruTV and was renewed for two more seasons. Agents are more inclined to work with actors like this who take the initiative and create their own opportunities.
Make It Known That You're Looking for an Agent
Networking is also essential to finding an agent. Many agents find clients by word from other actors, producers, directors, or casting directors. Being active on social media can likewise plug you into a community of like-minded actors.
Make it known that you're looking for an agent when you're auditioning. You never know who might be in a position to help you. You might be at a casting call where they ask about your agent. Tell them you're in the process of seeking representation and ask for recommendations.
Establishing a digital presence is also imperative. Having a site dedicated to your acting gives agents a convenient way to download your headshots, review your resume, see your demo reel, and contact you if they're interested.
You Don’t Need to Wait for an Agent to Start Your Career
Even when you're fortunate enough to find an agent, you've still got to keep working hard to make a name for yourself. It's a big misconception that all you have to do is wait for the phone to ring once you have an agent. That's not the case most of the time.
An agent's livelihood depends on finding work for their clients. Typically, they get paid a percentage of the roles they help land—usually between 10 and 20 percent depending on whether the job is union or non-union. Just the same, you might not be their top priority, initially.
The reality is that while agents work on your behalf, they have other established clients, and those actors will likely get work first. It’s simply easier to attract attention from the industry for known quantities. So sitting around waiting for an agent to generate momentum isn't time well spent. Instead, focus on continually pushing your career forward.