Agents: the guys and gals whose sole purpose is to get you in the room for the roles you deserve. It’s the one relationship every actor craves in this business. You want a teammate, a colleague, and someone who fights and cares about your career just as much as you do. So, if you don’t already have an agent, how do you get one? And why does that jump from no representation to representation seem to be so hard to make? Because nobody needs to work harder at your career than you.
Yes, agent or not, it’s important that the actor is in control. Do you know the types of roles you’d be cast in? Are you actively putting yourself out there and connecting with the casting directors and filmmakers the agents are pitching you to? The first step to finding representation is to BE your own representation. And that makes the job of an agent, for when you do have one, a heck of a lot easier! “I think that the most important thing is that actors need to take responsibility for their own career and they have to participate in their career. It’s no longer good enough just to have a great agent who’s working hard on the actor’s behalf and trying to get auditions for the actor. But the actors need to be involved in their own career as far as networking and meeting as many people in the industry as possible,” explained Avalon Artists Agency’s founder and head agent Craig Holzberg, “Actors need to be constantly honing their craft. They need to be in acting class if they are singers they need to be in voice lessons, if they are dancers they need to be in dance class. Actors need to be working every day, doing something, to help get their career either started or to the next level.” And the agents at Bloc NYC couldn’t seem to agree more: “The need for an agent is not the first thing that should be on someone’s mind when they just hit the city. Just audition, and self submit, and get your butt on set, meet people,” said Bloc agent Jim Daly. Fellow Bloc agent, Fatima Wilson, also added, “For me to be interested in you, I need to see how you got this work. And that’s building relationships with casting directors outside the agency, before you sign with one. Because a lot of people just assume that they’re going to get these connections. And I’ve met a few people where they’re like, ‘Oh, I met these people, this person calls me in a lot, I’m doing this, I’m doing that,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh that’s great!’ because I know that you’re selfmotivated. That’s somebody I want to work with. I don’t want to work with a person who’s waiting for me to get them work…It’s a 50/50 relationship.”
And that 50/50 balance doesn’t just need to exist within the terms of the business, but it also needs to exist on a more personal level. In fact, the key to holding onto an agent once you have one and maybe even gaining the interest of one in the first place is communication. “We want open communication. I stress to an actor all the time, if you have information, about a project that can help us get you in the door meaning you have worked for that director before, or the theater before, or you have met that casting director recently at another audition or at a workshop we want to know that!” said agent Craig Holzberg, “Because we’re going to use that information to help get the actor the next appointment.” And, aside from the daily grind of the agent/actor relationship, communication also needs to be open so that the actor’s career can continue down the right path. “An important thing to do in any successful agent/actor relationship is to have open dialogue, and open communication about what the actor wants, how we perceive them, and trying to make it happen as far as getting them seen by the casting director for the role they feel is the best fit for their type,” Craig Holzberg explains further, “I wouldn’t use the word type but it comes down to how they see themselves and how we see them as actors.” Because, ultimately, an agent should really be the actor’s partner in crime. The actor should feel safe talking to their representation, they should not withhold any important information from their agent, and they should trust that that person is pushing them forward in the right direction. Just like Jim Daly worded it: “We’re very kind and understanding of people that will share what’s going on with them. We can be there for them, and help them, and still be there for them in their career. It’s a really nice addition to just the work.” So, really, what is there to be afraid of? Because, like any old relationship, it needs to be mutual grounds in order for anything to work out. “[It’s about] wanting somebody to be appreciative and respectful of the relationship…and knowing that they’re looking out for your best interests. [It’s about] being communicative about what [the actor’s] goals are, what their limitations are, and then being able to work hand in hand in that,” explained Bloc NYC agent Maegan Mishico a bit further.
But, okay, you’ve been pounding the pavement for quite some time. You have all of your materials together, you’ve built yourself a market of industry fans, and you are ready to find that professional relationship that may make even your significant other jealous. So, how do you get in the door? When it comes to getting an interview with Avalon Artists Group, and many other agencies, the older methods of getting in front of agents are starting to gradually fade. “In the case of the internet these days, there are fewer actors who actually mail in a hard copy headshot and resume. A lot of people email or use referrals. We don’t get some of them that are emailed because it may go into our spam file, but we look at everything that comes through. And we certainly consider every recommendation whether it be from a casting director, or a manager, or an actor that we already represent,” shared Craig Holzberg. And the process for getting into the room for Bloc NYC isn’t very different: “There’s going to be very few times we look at somebody that has very little on their resume. I think what happens is, you just get out as an actor, or a dancer, or a singer, and you start working. You start hitting the pavement and getting these jobs. And, sooner or later we’re going to catch wind of your name. One of our clients may have worked with you and said wonderful things about you, and that’s when I like to team up with somebody,” describes Jim Daly, “If not them [through friends], we’re going to be out there going to seminars and showcases and then we’ll see you.” So, sign up for those agent showcases and seminars, network with your fellow actors, and start connecting with the casting directors first! Because how amazing would it be to go into a meeting with an agent and be able to tell them all about the costar you just filmed for a network TV show? Awesome, right?!
But getting into the doors of an agency is just the first step to nailing that perfect representation. Once you get the call that they want to bring you in for an interview, that’s when the relationship building work finally begins. “[The interview is] meant to be a resource to gather information and do research,” says Craig Holzberg, “I’m always excited about an actor that comes into a meeting about possible representation that has prepared questions and they take control of the meeting. Because it is their career, and they should be interviewing the agent, or the agency, about what they have to offer to the actor…It tells us they’re doing their homework and they’re really interested in what that agency or agent has to offer.” For example, if you’re going to go on a date with someone, you’re not going to only want them to ask you questions about your life, you’re also going to want to hear all about their life as well or at least that’s what we hope you’d be thinking on a first date! That way you can know what to expect out of that person on a daily basis, and in terms of meeting with someone like Craig, “It sort of gives an indication of what it might be like working with that actor down the road.” And, just as you suspected, the same goes for Bloc NYC! “It’s a person to person relationship so we want to get to know you. And I think lots of times that’s a big part of the meeting that people forget about,” said Fatima Wilson, “We want to know how you would be in the room and do we connect on a person to person level. Because we’re going to be emailing each other at 10:30 at night, and we’re going to be going to see that person’s shows.” And, from there, the interview really comes down to making sure both the agent and the actor will be on the same page in terms of running the one career. So, even though this might sound easier than it actually is, just relax! Have fun! And connect when you’re in an agency meeting! Also, have whatever material the agent wants to see whether that be monologues, scenes, a song, or even a dance routine ready to go. Doesn’t that sound a lot like what you should be doing in an audition? Because ultimately that’s what an agency meeting is. Just another audition. But in this audition, you want to show them that auditioning is something you totally rock at.
Then, finally! Eventually, you will have all of your stuff together, get an interview, nail that interview, and BAM! You have the legit theatrical representation you’ve always dreamed of. It may take you longer than you expected, and you may face rejection along the way, but if you really focus on your career you can get that perfect agent/actor relationship. Then, you may need to start all over again…Okay, Don’t freak out! Yes, the process may need to start over again if your agent drops you and you’re back to square one. But another reason why you may need to start the whole process over again is if you’re expanding your network. Such as by getting a commercial agent! Yes, theatrical and commercial agents are usually two different team players in an actor’s court. “The main difference between a commercial agent and a legit agent is they submit for different projects one for commercials, industrials and voice-overs, and the other for film, TV and theater,” explains Abrams Artists Agency’s commercial agent, Tracey Goldblum, “Both agents look for outstanding actors, but commercial agents can and do throw a wider net for talent in terms of ages and types.” And it seems that the process of getting a commercial agent doesn’t vary much from that of finding your perfect legit agent. “The right time to sign with a commercial agent is whenever the talent feels he or she has found a real advocate, as well as someone with whom he or she can freely communicate,” Tracey shared, “There is no one way to find a commercial agent because we are always looking out for great talent at Broadway shows, comedy and improv lineups, showcases, etc. Having your work seen is the best way to get a commercial agent, since we are better able to represent actors if we are familiar with what they can do. After that, having a strong work ethic and a professional attitude go a long way to.” Doesn’t that all sound pretty familiar?
So now, take a step back. Breathe. And take a good hard look at where you are in your career. Everyone is on a different path. So what if your friend has less credits than you but already has representation! So what if you’ve been acting for years and still can’t find that perfect match! The thought of finding and securing representation in this business can be scary and seriously overwhelming but it can happen for you. With consistent hard work, patience, and the ability to take your career into your own hands, you will have that perfect team of representation behind you in no time.