How to get an acting agent

1st December 2020

One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from my actors is: How to get an agent? Many actors speak about how they can get signed by an acting agent while at drama school, and many actors will change agent representation many times during their acting career.

Back in the day

Back in the day, we were more preoccupied with getting an Actors Equity card than getting representation; work was another preoccupation for the new actor. I guess actors in 1990 were more focused was on how to tread the boards at the RSC. The drama school showcase (Mountview in my case) did that for us. The agents came along and if you were lucky enough (or had sufficient talent), then you would find your self with agency representation of some sort. Either way, it was a decent start to your acting career.

Research agency lists

Now with the array of professional theatrical agency websites, it becomes a little easier to do your research. We used to have to go The Spotlight offices and flip pages of volumes of actors headshots in the directories to find out who represented which actors. That took stamina. Now it’s easier! It’s just become harder in a different way!

Drama School help

Drama schools will want to invite all the top agents to the acting showcase. But a personal touch is going to make a big difference when your headshot and CV lands on the desk of a future agency. Emails are a big thing, but I would opt for a personal approach and standout with snail mail. It’s all effortless to send an email, and emails don’t always have the personality! Maybe do both. Cheeky!

Which acting agent

The route I would take is with a bit of clever research. Check acting agencies web sites and see if they have your type. If not, then that could be the inroad you need. If they have a distinct “brand” that is similar to you, then you are not solving a problem for them. YOU want to be the missing jigsaw. So, have a look online and make a hit list of agents that you feel you want the opportunity of meeting. Make sure you read the representation page and DO NOT send out a generic email. Make it personal and professional.

Actors headshots

Sending out your actor’s headshots and a cover letter to agencies should always include your actor’s Spotlight Profile page. If you have a link to your actors’ showreel and voice over demo reel, then that’s even better. People might be able to come and see you perform on stage, but the showreel is an excellent opener.

photo of Lloydd Hamwijk
Telecast showreels

Showreels should ideally only include telecast work. The home movie and am-dram short film vibe aren’t going look and sound good. You want to appear to be a professional. Doing the fabricated scene stuff is also a little amateurish too. Opt for excellent film school clips and get to shoot some pro looking short films if you don’t have many clips. The London Film Academy does audition actors for projects, for example.

If you are changing representation, the same applies. Make sure your headshots, VO reel, and showreel are up to date. Make sure that the showreel is under 2 mins.

Don’t call us we will call you!

You will see this a million times on the talent agency’s websites. The temptation is to call and see what they thought of your headshot or if the email has landed. But take it from someone who has learned this for many years, don’t do it. If you have a connection and you’ve spoken then sure, but otherwise you’re going to annoy the agent before they have even looked at your representation request letter.

Friends recommendation

If an actor friend is with a talent agency that you feel is appropriate for you to approach, then ask them to recommend you. That is the best and probably the most natural way of getting the talent agent to check out your details. Then once a meeting is set up, and you like each other business-wise, then the choice is yours.

The ideal agent – Arri Gold

If you are a fan (I am) of the hit HBO television series “Entourage” then you’d remember the fab performance of Jeremy Piven as Hollywood Talent agent; Arri Gold. We all want Ari Gold to be our talent agent! Or maybe just me. Great show.

Agent Ari Gold played by Jeremy Piven. My type of talent agent.