What to Look for in a Talent Agency
Even Scarlett Johansson and Chris Hemsworth started from your position. You’ve got a bundle of passion and the necessary talent to make it big, but without the best talent agency, you’ll struggle to be discovered.
You’re ready to set yourself up for success and take the next step in your talent career, but finding an acting agency that suits your needs can be a tough job in itself.
With dodgy companies popping up left right and centre and the horror stories from your peers raising your guard, contracts and commissions can be a scary new world.
Lucky for you, if you’re stuck wondering how to find a talent agency and land more auditions, we’ve got all the secrets. Follow along to learn everything you should consider before signing with a talent agent and how to land a spot on the best talent agency’s roster.
What to Look for in a Talent Agency
Before you head to any auditions or start sending out resumes, it’s important to understand what you should be looking for. Think about the elements of an agency that are important to you and use this as a measure before getting swept up in the excitement of an agent wanting you.
Here are the main areas you should consider.
Your ideal agent should be easy to talk to and forthcoming about the details. If a talent agency is holding back information or keeping certain details out of your reach, there is a reason. Usually, it’s due to dodgy practices or sketchy contracts.
They should be willing and eager to answer any questions you have about the process, terms of your contract, and what you can expect. Be wary of companies who promise you the world with little to no actual evidence or fathomable plan to do so.
You should be able to ask what kind of successes they have had and why they feel they can help you with no backlash. While you are trying to sell yourself to them, they will technically be working for you, so it’s important to take a step back and evaluate before jumping into any deals.
If you feel pressure to sign on the spot or are rushed into making a decision, this could be an indicator that they want you committed before you discover a flaw.
What are their goals for your career and do they align with yours? Having a realistic set of goals and measurable success points will be important to keep you motivated.
If you haven’t had a gig yet and your agency is sending you off for major movie placements, this might not be a good fit. Your agency should be able to guide you through the growth process and set you up for more realistic auditions. This way you’ll be able to start generating income while you improve your skills.
It’s also important to consider the kind of work you would like to be doing. If you are happiest with live performances and theatre type roles but your agency is only willing to put you forward for commercials, this may be a conflict of interest.
Formulate your own ideal plan and compare it with your acting agency’s approach.
Check-in with your talent agent’s values and ensure that they line up with your needs. The kinds of auditions they send you to will be significantly impacted by your personal values and the overall approach of the company.
Let them know what kinds of roles you are open to playing and the environments you want to be in. If they aren’t willing to seek out the right circumstances for your needs, it might not be a great pairing.
For example, if they are pushing you to buy your way into roles for exposure and you’re morals urge you to chase organic success, you’ll start to butt heads over send-outs.
Beyond the way you obtain roles, having conflicting values could have your agent sending you to auditions that undermine who you are. If you aren’t interested in playing certain roles or showing skin on screen, your agent needs to know this and have respect for your decision. You should never feel obligated to take a role that doesn’t align with your beliefs.
Take note of the clients on an acting agency’s roster and investigate their work. The talent industry is surprisingly small and casting directors will make assumptions about you based on your agency.
If you are teaming up with an agent who has a reputation for sending unprepared actors to auditions, the casting team will assume you will be the same and have a bias formed before you even walk in. While it’s great to let your talent speak for itself, breaking past pre-fabricated impressions is incredibly difficult.
Landing gigs is hard enough as it is, you shouldn’t have to deal with unfair circumstances because of a reputation you weren’t aware of.
Look for reviews and seek industry advice when seeking an agent and choose a representative that will work with your career instead of against it.
While everyone starts somewhere, we highly recommend signing on with an agency that is already established.
The problem with the entertainment industry is there there are no regulations around who can claim expert status. Because of this, new agents are coming out of the woodwork daily. These newcomers make it sound like they can deliver you the world, but their lack of experience means you could end up being a guinea pig for their mistakes.
Ask for client lists and success stories to ensure the agent who has scouted you has legitimate qualifications.
Even if a newcomer does know what they are doing and isn’t forcing you down a road of mishaps, they will still have a lot of work to do to form a positive reputation in the industry and get their foot in the door for larger opportunities. Your talent shouldn’t be limited due to the small reach of an inexperienced agent.
We know stepping into the world of how to find a talent agency is exciting, but don’t let your enthusiasm be a cover for their underwhelming desire.
An agency should be just as enthusiastic to work with you as you are with them. They need to recognize your talent and prioritize you as a client to please. If you aren’t receiving a positive vibe, you could find yourself at the bottom of their list for audition opportunities.
If an agent isn’t excited by the roles they could find for you and the success you could discover, they’ll likely take less interest in finding you work. This leaves you committed to a company that isn’t submitting you for applicable roles or talking you up in the industry.
As you already know, standing out in the talent world is tricky. Your agent should be making moves to boost your visibility, not overlooking you because they have something better on the go.
While signing on with the largest possible name is appealing, the price tag that goes along with this may not be reasonable.
Pay close attention to the payment setup at your prospective talent agency. Some companies will run on a monthly flat-rate fee that you are responsible for regardless of the number of auditions or jobs you gained. These fees should be a red flag for your search.
The problem with this system is that there is no motivation to get you working. Regardless of your income, you’ll be writing a cheque that they can rely on. This is where the horror stories come from about actors paying in thousands of dollars for big promises and being left with nothing.
A commission system is a far more respected model for the talent industry as it encourages your agent to work with you. They’ll have an invested interest in your success because of the commission attachment. Not only does this encourage more auditions, but they’ll also want to help you develop your skills to land higher-paying jobs.
Most commissions will vary per job, but an agency shouldn’t be taking more than 25% of your earnings. Aim for a reasonable 10-20% on your hunt for the best.
How to Land the Best Talent Agency
Now that you know what you are looking for, you’ll need to impress the agency with your skills.
A quality agency will meet you in person for an audition to evaluate your talent. While these scenarios can be nerve-racking, there are certain steps you can take to avoid common mistakes and impress the scouts.
1. Arrive on Time
You wouldn’t show up late for your shift at a normal job, so don’t do it here. Showing up late gives the impression that you aren’t really interested, or are an unreliable actor. Both of these will be unappealing to agencies as they need to protect their reputation as well.
2. Be Prepared
Don’t show up with a half-memorized monologue and no backup materials. Prove to agents that you are serious and are willing to put in the hard work to be successful.
You’ll need to give a lot to your acting career before you see a return on investment. If you aren’t able to prepare for this audition, they will assume that this is the level of effort you are bringing to future opportunities.
3. Choose Relevant Monologues
When you audition for a part, you’ll want to be sure to choose monologues that show off your suitability for the role. The same principle applies to agent auditions. Take in a piece that showcases your best qualities but is applicable to the roles you would like to play.
They will take your first audition as an impression of what you are marketable for. If you go in with a Shakespeare monologue and hope to land commercial ads, there will be a communication breakdown.
They won’t be able to envision putting you forward for applicable roles and will simply say no instead of digging deeper into your talents.
4. Understand Your Character
Agents aren’t looking for your ability to memorize a script. To impress the big guns, you’ll need to sell them on your character buy-in.
Picking up a piece and getting invested in the story is a huge asset in the industry. You won’t be able to portray emotions or intentions clearly if you don’t understand them yourself.
5. Cool it on the Chit Chat
While building relationships is essential, you’ll want to let your talent speak for you on your first day. Respect the time of a potential agent by getting to the important information.
Think about how many auditions before you asked about their day and how they are enjoying the latest season of a talent series. Let your personality shine and skip past the small talk for a more meaningful impression.
6. Don’t Over-Share
At some point in the meeting, they will likely ask you about your story. It’s important to stay on track with the relevant information here.
What they really want to know is how you got into acting, the motivators behind your desire, and any great selling points that can help them push you as a unique individual. What they don’t need to know is your financial situation, relationship problems, or anything you wouldn’t tell to your employer.
7. Limit Props and Miming
Loading up your monologues with props and miming invisible objects will distract from your raw talent. They don’t need to know that you can sip a cup of tea while acting, that’s a given.
What they really need to see if your facial expressions, emotional buy-in, and sales-worthy features. Draw attention to your eyes and let your work speak for itself.
Find Your Ideal Acting Agency.
Bring these key elements into focus when you’re in the market for a talent agency and know your standards. Don’t be afraid to be picky and understand when a talent agent isn’t the right fit for you.
With your new knowledge, you’ll be able to choose the best fit and blow them away at your audition.