There’s been a ton of seminars and whatnot telling you how to get an agent or manager. Rather than going through the hassle of paying them a lot of money to learn this information, I’ve taken the time to create this very extensive article so that I take away all the mystery how to exactly get an agent. This can most likely applied everywhere else but the documents I attached are specifically LA-based. It’s a wee bit long but it’s everything I know how to do and it has worked for me. Hopefully it will work for you as well 🙂
**Just to let you know, although my language in this article will refer to agents, all of this applies to finding a manager as well.**
First, I need to get the most basic questions out of the way. It sounds absolutely stupid but I need to cover all bases just in case if you are to pursue a theatrical and commercial acting career:
1. DO YOU HAVE (GOOD) HEADSHOTS, WEBSITE, ACTORS ACCESS, LACASTING, AND A SOLID 1-3MIN DEMO REEL?
– If your headshots are over 3 years old and look nothing like you, get that updated pronto. If you don’t even have headshots…well…get on it. (If you’re like, what the heck makes a good headshot? Check out this article for good pointers.) If you don’t have Actors Access and LACasting, at least register free accounts and get that setup. Yes, it sucks that you have to pay $10 per headshot on AA and $15 per her headshot (with $25 for the first one) on LACasting so choose your best ones.
– With this set up, you can start self-submitting and just get that engine going. It is recommended that you check those sites 3-4 times a day as you want to submit AS SOON as the breakdown is released. A lot of great acting projects can be found on AA but it can be said the same for LACasting as well.
– It is important that you have your own website even if you have an AA and LACasting account. Nowadays, services like about.me, WordPress, and Wix allows you to create simple and effective websites absolutely free with minimum hassle. Also, if you buy your own domain name, it allows you to claim a piece of the internet space and have a place to market yourself. Like what you see before you as this was created entirely with WordPress 😀
– As for the demo reel, you just need a solid 1-3 minute demo reel that just shows you as you are. If you don’t have one, it is your duty as an actor to have one immediately. The important thing to remember is that we need to see you clearly and hear you clearly. The first frame of the demo reel should start with your face so industry folks can know who they are watching in the first place. You don’t need a name card to start it off, they already know whose reel it is. You don’t need a cute montage sequence of you jumping, laughing, crying. etc. Cut out any footage that doesn’t have you saying anything, that’s pretty much useless.
2. HAVE YOU CREATED A LIST OF EVERY THEATRICAL/COMMERCIAL CASTING OFFICE YOU EVER MET THROUGH WORKSHOPS/AUDITIONS?
– I know this part is going to be absolutely daunting or even bizarre to some of you. I do this because I find it one of the key ways to keep accountability of your career, no matter how successful you are. Create a document (Excel is the easiest) that tracks every single casting office you ever met in your life. How many times did you audition for them? Did you get callbacks/avails? Did you book anything (even if it was a $100 nonunion informercial)? Tracking your progress is not only invaluable but necessary and I will later explain why.
— WHAT DO YOU NEED? —
1. You don’t need a demo reel to get a commercial agent so that will not play any factor in this world.2.You do however need bright energetic smiling headshots. Backgrounds play a role as well so bright colored backgrounds actually do help in this particular matter (it definitely wouldn’t in the theatrical drama side of things, obviously).
2. Improv training is becoming a must now (unfortunately) as many commercial casting offices won’t even bring you in unless you’ve done classes with either UCB, Groundlings, IO West, or Second City. If you can, find the time and the money to do at least ONE so that you can put that on your resume…it will make all the difference.
— HOW BEST TO SUBMIT TO A COMMERCIAL AGENCY —
1. Emails and/or mailed submissions as always but I personally just do email. There may be some concerns that particular agents only want mailed submissions but I found this to not really be the case when I did it myself. Attached to this email is the cover letter I used that I used for email submissions with the subject headline of:
[For Commercial Representation] Edward Hong, the Asian Ted Mosby!
With this particular subject headline, it makes it VERY clear what you’re going after as well as how you are branding yourself. Everybody will have their own unique cover letter but the most important things to keep in mind is that it must be short, precise, and descriptive of what you can provide to the agency. Your union status, your training, and how you market yourself. Branding yourself is ESPECIALLY important in the commercial world so know yourself to a degree so you can do that. If you have a commercial reel or a famous YouTube video, this is also where an email submission can let you shine (and most likely will aid you greatly in this process).
2. In terms of which good commercial agencies to submit to, the document that I attached that has the cover letter also has a list of reputable commercial agencies. Keep in mind that there may be many more that I may have missed but those are the ones that gets their clients consistently seen.
Use IMDBPro to find these agencies’ mailing address and emailing address. Target the ones that seem to have the least amount of clients and make SURE that they don’t have a boatload of clients like you already. If you’re a quirky cute redhead and they have 6 already in store, you’re better off not wasting your time submitting to them.
3. Email these particular agents first and then if you REALLY want such particular agents, send a mailed headshot + resume a month or two afterwards. It takes about a week usually for them to respond if they are interested in you and in some cases, it can be as quick as the day after.
4. For those of you who’ve been to commercial auditions already, this is where that casting office track list will be of GREAT assistance to you. Check out mine as an example here. Attach your Excel sheet to the email submission and by doing so, you are giving them even further reason why they should sign you because it shows you’re a smart saavy actor who treats their career like a business and that they can just go off the relationships you already have.
5. Submit to as many as you can for agencies that don’t have a lot of people like you. Don’t just be content with sending to five. Make that 30-40 and I guarantee you that at least a few of those will respond back to you.
GETTING THAT THEATRICAL AGENT
This post will no doubt prove to be the most elusive one so if anything, I want you guys to know that this approach is something that worked for me and may not work for others. However, I wanted to share it and let you guys know that if done right and more importantly, with unyielding persistence, you will get somewhere. First, here’s the list of reputable Los Angeles theatrical agencies that goes from the very top to the starter agencies (provided by a very reliable and deliciously snarky Secret Agent Man). Mind you, this is not the definitive list nor is it the most updated but these are the ones that get their clients seen.
— WHAT DO YOU NEED? —
1. You need that solid 1-3 minute demo reel. It can be a combination of comedic and theatrical but the first footage needs to be your best in terms of what best captures your essence (as well as being the most professionally shot). Sometimes you can sacrifice the better looking scenes if you have one scene that just gets you to an absolute T.
2. You need headshots that best reflect you. You don’t have to have 15 ones where you’re a police officer in one and a clown in the other, usually 4-8 will suffice that shows varying aspects of you while still maintaining the unique essence that is undeniably YOU.
3. If you have relations with any casting folks, have that excel spreadsheet or some sort of organized document ready. This will be very appetizing for prospective agents.
4. If you have a referral from an actor that a particular agent likes and trust, and that actor likes, knows, and trusts your talent, this is essential to have.
5. You must have a clear sense of self that makes you stand from others. This is especially true for white actors as you will have the hardest challenge in trying to convince an agent to take you when they already have 6 of your type already. So know thyself and figure it out. You’re a blonde woman who’s a professional horseback rider and loves dystopian futuristic movies? There’s your calling card right there.
— HOW BEST TO SUBMIT TO A THEATRICAL AGENCY —
– First of all, if you don’t have any primetime tv/studio film credits, it is generally better for you to not ONLY go for the big guys. Make sure to focus on the boutique/starterup ones that have fewer clients and are more willing to take on a client like you without many or any credits. Yes, I know we all want to be with Abrams and Gersh and whatnot, but it’s best to be realistic.*
1. Emailed submissions with an example headline of:
[For Theatrical Representation] Edward Hong, the Asian Ted Mosby
can work, similar to how you would write for a commercial agent cover letter.
You do not have to follow my example as some of you won’t have credits to use as your selling point but it’s essential that you have a solid demo reel and website that shows what you can provide. It’s really that simple. The rest, the agent can take care of in terms of where they see you in their roster. If you don’t have your own official website (which you should RIGHT AWAY), you should attach your ActorsAccess link so it gives agencies the options to download your resume or headshots if they don’t feel like it. That link will provide them a one-stop shop with your headshots, reels (which MUST be uploaded), and resume. When you write your letter, you don’t need to tell them that you’re seeking an agent because it’s obvious that you’re looking for one by simply writing to them. Be forward and bold in your language by saying “let’s meet in the next two weeks to see if we’re a good fit” as opposed to “I sincerely hope we can meet!” With that in mind, one can write an email cover letter as simple as:
Dear [Insert Agent Name],
I’d love to set up a meeting with you this week to see if we’d be a good match! Please find attached my headshot and resume.
Direct Reel Link: Your Demo Reel Link
2. Mailed submissions
I would suggest doing emailed submissions first and if you don’t hear a response after a month, send a mailed submission. We’re at a day and age where mailed submissions is slowly becoming outdated but it’s not thrown out altogether.
There is a possibility that some of the agencies you emailed do not take email submissions so you are only covering your bases by doing this as a followup. Here, have your very best representative headshot + resume as well as your cover letter (the same that you can use for your emailed submission).
3. Agency workshops
Ah yes, the pay to play workshops where we hope we will get recognized from industry folks by paying with our hard earned money to get them to like us. I don’t have much to say except this can or cannot work, even if you are super talented and are gorgeous. The one advice I would say is to spend as little money on this possible and thus find the cheapest prices for doing an agency workshop.
4. Casting Office Track List
Similar to my commercial agency section, if you’ve been having theatrical auditions already, that track list will come in handy. Check out my theatrical example here. Attach your Excel sheet to the email submission and by doing so, you are giving them even further reason why they should sign you because it shows you’re a smart saavy actor who treats their career like a business and that they can just go off the relationships you already have.
— FINAL WORDS —
– The best time to normally look for agents is right after pilot season (June to early July) and right after episodic season before the winter holidays (End of November to mid December). However, I have realized that agencies look pretty much whenever so don’t wait. With THAT being said though, those time frames are usually the best times.
– Do not be disheartened if you don’t get responses right away or ever. Getting an agent is pretty similar to that like dating (AKA it sucks and it can be a stupid chore). Get used to hearing NO’s and power through despite how maddening it can be, eventually, someone will find a spot for someone like you and it will be a beautiful yes. SO BE PERSISTENT.