If you’re an actor in NYC (or anywhere for that matter), I’ve always told everyone you should make it your immediate goal to seek representation & sign with an agent. Now that’s not to say that you can’t book work on your own, but there are so many more opportunities when you’re signed with an agent. It’s the icing on the cake.
Getting an agent can be difficult at times. You might have to go through a periods at a time where your submissions are unanswered. That’s okay! It’s all a part of the process. If you’re not with an agent currently, don’t stress. But don’t let that be an excuse to not keep knocking on their doors.
They might not be answering because think about how many clients they have. Think about whether they actually have time in the day to prioritise looking for new clients. They’re probably busy negotiating contracts for their current clients, or submitting them for auditions — which is what you want them to being doing for you when you’re signed with them! So don’t take it personally. They probably didn’t answer you or reach out because they simply didn’t see your submission. So let’s look at some of the ways where you can hopefully get their attention.
Mailing Your Headshot & Resume
The classic way of submitting includes mailing your headshot and resume directly to the agency. I’ve heard from several agents they really love this approach because it’s old school and traditional. If you look through Backstage here, they have an entire list of agencies & tell you what their preferred way of submission is (or if they don’t take any submissions at all). Respect the rules & guidelines listed. If they don’t take in-person drop offs, don’t show up to their office. You don’t want to be known as the person who doesn’t know how to follow rules!
When you mail a headshot and resume in, make sure you include a little cover letter or note. Let them know who you are & where you see yourself in the business currently. If you’re a theatrical actor, name 3 shows you can be in tomorrow on Broadway. You want to keep it short & sweet, but be direct with your type so they know where to categorise you. You don’t need to be redundant about what credits you’ve done — they can just look at your resume. Don’t forget to tell them how to contact you, and thank you for their time and consideration.
Go Through A Friend
If mailing your headshot and resume isn’t working out too well, you should reach out to your close friends who have good relationships with their agents. I emphasised on the word close because this is not a favour you should go around asking anyone. You need someone who really knows you, your talent & is comfortable advocating for you. Ask them kindly to put in a good word for you & forward your submission through email. In return, buy them a coffee or a meal to thank you for their help regardless of whether their agent reaches out or not. Don’t be an opportunist. You need to stay thankful and appreciative even if it doesn’t work out the way you want it to. If you’re submitting through an email submission, you should include a link of you singing/dancing on top of your headshot, resume & introductory blurb. It doesn’t have to be long. Two 16 bar cuts will suffice. If you have amazing dance skills, include it. If you have tumbling skills, include it. These are important for your marketability!
Actors Connection provides agent seminars for roughly $30 each. What happens in these seminars is that you get to meet with an agent, go through a Q&A, & then meet with them privately to perform your monologue or song. I find that this is a great way to open doors without breaking your bank. It’s in an intimate setting, & the agent gets to know your work on top of meeting you. I’ve had successful experiences with the agent seminar classes at Actors Connection!
The Growing Studio
The Growing Studio offers a showcase package where they gather a bunch of agents & allow you to perform for them. Before the showcase, you get to work on your material with industry professionals. Although a slightly more expensive option for good reason, a lot of actors find representation this way.
Actor’s Equity Agent Access Auditions
This is only applicable to Equity members. If you are Equity, you can sign up for the Agent Access Auditions (AAAs) to get seen by agents that way. In these sessions are a couple of Equity-franchised agents scouting for new talent to add on their roster. They are usually split into 2 categories (Dramatic & Musical). All you have to do is prepare a cut which shows you off the best,
Invite Them to an Upcoming Performance
Send a cute little postcard to the agencies that allow submissions & invite them to an upcoming performance or cabaret of yours! You never know who will show up.
You got a meeting! Now what?
Congratulations! You’ve been noticed. So what now? You go to the meeting. What should you bring? Well, bring another headshot and resume for starters. They might have lost your original submission & want a new one. You should wear something you would wear to a cute brunch. You don’t need to be in a dress and heels. Feel free to dress more like you. Look presentable & smart. If I was meeting an agent during the summer, I would wear a cute jumpsuit with white sneakers, or a blouse with a high waisted a-line skirt and white sneakers. If in winter, I would wear a cute cashmere turtle neck with a beret, high waisted jeans & black booties.
It’s a First Date
Be prepared for anything to come your way. Stay pleasant. Don’t give sass or attitude. You don’t want to rub anyone off the wrong way. Nasty first impressions are hard to mend even if you didn’t intend for it to come across that way. The way I see agent meetings is that it’s your first date. You either click or you don’t. I’ve walked out of an agent meeting with them saying “You’ll never make it.” It happens & you’re sad in the moment, but I found the agent of my dreams & it felt pretty good to think about what that agent said when I booked my first Broadway show 3 months out of college.
Think about what you want to say the night before & say it once so you’re not completely on the spot under nerves. A lot of these meetings start with “So tell me about yourself.” So what do you say? For starters, where you grew up is good information to provide, where you went to college, what your strengths are, languages you speak if more than one, what you like to do outside of acting — perhaps the most important because they want to get a sense of who you are! I believe I told agents I loved to travel, Instagram blog & shop haha.
What is your Type?
Type is a tricky thing because you & the agent you’re meeting might not see eye to eye. Be ready for that & just accept it. Don’t fight them! If you disagree, take it in & then analyse it later when you go home. They might be right. They also might not be. When they ask you about your type, name a few roles in current shows or tv series you can play instead of describing your type. This will give them a better sense of what you’re like as an actor & where your skill sets lie. After you give them a few examples, ask them in return “Would you agree with the way I see myself? How would you market me?” You want to know what they think! This is important for open communication & your relationship should you choose to sign with them. Because if you think your age range is 16-23 & they think it’s 26-35, there may be a slight problem & they might not be the agents for you. You have to be on a similar page about what you both think you can play. If you think you’re more of the sweet girl & they think you’re quirkier, that’s fine. You can work around that. But if they think you’re the midwife when in reality look like a teenager, there’s a red flag! You should also always be honest with yourself too. If you don’t look young anymore, that’s ok! Accept it instead of denying it. You will book more work when you embrace what you really are instead of trying to be something you’re not.
Questions You Should Ask
You should never ask questions for the sake of asking questions. Ask questions you genuinely want an answer to. So don’t ask questions that’ll result in a very vague answer like “how many people do you submit to auditions each day?” I’m sure that’s something you want to know, but it’s truly not important for you to know how many clients they submit a day. I can also assure you they’re not keeping track of it & they’re definitely submitting the most they can because that’s what an agent does! Maybe stay away from other questions like “how many times do your clients go on auditions a week?” Yet again, it’s something that varies depending on the month, season & whether the shows are appropriate for the actor that week. Instead, ask questions like “what casting directors classes do you recommend I should take class from?” “What do you think of my headshots?” “Are there a lot of actors in your roster similar to my type?” “How many clients do you have?” This particular question is important because if you’re not super well established yet, you might want to consider signing with a smaller agency where they’ll focus their efforts on you instead of getting lost in the shuffle.
Personal questions are not exactly taboo either! I always think it’s kind of nice if you ask an agent “how did you become an agent?” “What do you love most about being an agent?” You want to get along with your agent. You won’t be best friends with them, but it’s important you treat them like a human being. They’re in your corner of course, but they’re more than just your agent. Get to know them equally as well as they will get to know you.
The final questions I would ask are: “What type of person do you work well with?” “What do you expect from your clients?” “What are your pet peeves?” It’s always important to know what they are expecting from you so you can always put your best foot forward. If they want their clients to be responsive, you better make sure that you reply to their emails ASAP! A client-agent relationship is just like any other relationship or friendship. You have to put in equal efforts to make it work.
Don’t flood them with questions. One personal question is enough to end a meeting on a good note.
Singing at your Meeting
It’s common to sing or do a monologue at your meeting. So be prepared to do either. Most of the time, they’ll tell you in advance if you need to prepare something. If you’re a musical theatre actress, have a couple backing tracks ready on your phone & bring a small speaker. Just so you’re prepared. Also have a short monologue if you’re interested in TV/film work.
After your meeting, you want to thank them via email. If they say they will be in touch, check in after 2-3 days. If they don’t mention anything during your meeting, email them after a week. Just so you know where you stand with them. Not all meetings will result in them signing you immediately, but it will give you a better sense of whether you liked them or not, & if this is an agency you want to continue to pursue should a spot on their roster open up.
The secret to getting an agent is to never stop trying. Don’t be manic about it & submit yourself every week to the same agency. But if you haven’t heard back in 3 months, maybe it’s time to go through the steps & submit to them again. In a way, you are your own’s biggest agent. You got to advocate for yourself & care about your career for someone else to fight for you. I believe in you, you can do it!
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