How to Choose an Agency
It’s important to know what you’re looking for in an agency, and what goals you have for your career.
The time has come. You’ve read Stanislavsky, memorized every lyric to every Sondheim musical, and have seen all the Oscar nominees for the year. You’ve been taking classes, working on projects, and running scenes. And now, you’ve decided to dive in fully and shake things up a little bit by signing with an agency. Where do you start? And, of the utmost importance, how do you know which one will be a good fit? Well, in honor of the new feature of agency lists on CallBoard (under the “Tools” section), we’ve compiled a handy set of guidelines for how to choose an agency. Between our help and your experience, we think you should be set. It may also help to bribe prospective agents with cookies, but we’ll leave that up to your discretion. Enjoy!
Do your homework
Thought this principle was limited to your high school biology class? Au contraire! This is probably the biggest step you can take when starting the process of selecting an agency. One great place to start is compiling a list of agencies in your area (*cough* look at the list on CallBoard *cough cough*) and seeing if they are union franchised. This means that the agency has entered into an agreement with SAG/AFTRA to abide by certain rules and standards in regards to union members. Whether you’re a union member or not, this is a good thing. It sets appropriate ground rules and requires that the agency answer to an outside entity. Also just researching them generally is probably a good idea, you know?
Have a vision
It’s important to know what you’re looking for in an agency, and what goals you have for your career. In fact, when you go into meet with an agent to be considered for representation, they’ll very likely ask you what your aspirations are. Are you more interested in commercial work, voice over, or feature films? What kind of roles do you see yourself playing? Some questions for you to ask yourself may include, do I want a bigger agency that is really well known, or maybe a smaller one that feels more personal? These are factors that you’ll have to consider and weigh out.
Know the red flags
As the old adage goes: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for “agencies” that give promises of instant stardom, guarantees to make a ton of money really quickly as an extra, or claims that they can get you where you want to be RIGHT NOW. Legitimate agencies know that acting is hard work and that a successful career is not usually going to blossom overnight.
In addition, there may be agencies who claim that it is required for you to take their exorbitantly priced acting classes in order to stay on as their talent. Nine out of ten times, this is totally unnecessary. Another thing to check out might be the Better Business Bureau. Legitimate agents are usually licensed by the state, and seeing what others say about them in this manner can be helpful.
When you do get in the room to meet with an agent, have questions so that you can know details about what they have to offer you. How does their payment work, and what percentage of your earnings will go to them (it’s generally 10%).
You might also want to ask how many clients they currently represent, what kind of work most of their actors do, etc. It may also be helpful to ask what they love about their agency, or what elements of it they’re most proud of. Just like any type of job interview, the more you know about their company and what they stand for, the better off you will be and the more specific questions you can ask.
When you do get in the room to meet with an agent, have questions so that you can know details about what they have to offer you.
Sources for this article
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