Anybody aspiring to become an actor in London will usually start with the (in)famous question: “How do I get an agent?” Great question, but we’ll keep it for a more extensive article that’s coming soon to Acting in London. Before employing techniques on signing with an acting agent, you’re going to need to know all the best acting agencies in London, whom and where to look for.
It’s no secret that budding actors’ success highly depends on their agents. So what are the best acting agencies in London with great reputations? The question is certainly apposite, especially when London acting agents typically take 10% of your earnings from any related source of income, and not just from work secured by the agents themselves.
NOTE: Going to Los Angeles, CA? See our friends’ Top 10 Talent Agencies in LA list
Bad acting agencies and unqualified talent agents are abundant in cities like London, Los Angeles or New York. They thrive on clueless actors who believe that simply signing with any London acting agency is the doorway to success. That’s a false assumption, and many aspiring actors end up with a bad contract where they have to continue to look for work only by themselves.
So how comfortable will you feel giving away a good portion of your earnings to your acting agent if you get work entirely through your own enterprise and effort? I’m guessing this would be less than ideal, which is why it’s important to focus on some of the best acting agencies in London, and sign only with the reputable places with great reputation.
Remember, a good talent agent should provide actors with much more than work opportunities. Agents are there to offer you support by:
- providing tips on the best acting classes;
- inviting you to networking events;
- helping you map out your acting career;
- making personal introductions to useful contacts;
- advising on the best roles for you;
- briefing you on directors.
…and many other things that will help you as an actor to feel secure in a notoriously insecure line of work. Here are a few articles on talent agents that you may find useful to read later:
- How to Not Get an Acting Agent
- What Agents Are Looking for in Actors
- How to Approach Acting Agents
- Don’t Stress About Getting a Talent Agent
- How to Write a Cover Letter to Your Agent
It’s true that signing with an acting agent is not an easy job, especially if your aim is one of these best acting agencies in London. However, that should not discourage from working hard towards your goal.
Also, remember that once you sign with an agent, he or she is now working for you, not the other way around. Therefore, it’s important that any talent agent you’re considering should be questioned closely on all of the above listed points. Below you’ll find six best acting agencies in London that are the leaders of talent management and essentially powerhouses of the entertainment industry, as well as four smaller boutique acting agencies where you may have a better chance.
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Top 6 Best Acting Agencies in London
These six best acting agencies in London are considered the cream of the crop, and they’re as big as talent agencies in London can get. Most major London-based film stars are signed with one of these top acting agencies. It’s advisable to approach them only if you already have considerable acting experience and a very strong acting resume.
1. William Morris Endeavor
The William Morris Agency, more correctly named William Morris Endeavor (WME), is familiar to every American actor, and that’s one of the main reasons I’ve put it on this list. WME’s London office is one of only two they have outside of the US, with the other one located in Australia. London is obviously an important location for the William Morris group, not just a brass plate.
Renowned US actors on WME’s roster who’ve also worked in the UK include William Hurt, Jessica Lange, and John Malkovich. Some of these actors are represented by one of the group’s American agents, but their London office is the “bridge” into the LA-based talent powerhouse that is William Morris.
Due to the nature of entertainment business in the UK, WME’s London office leans mostly towards TV, music, and literature, and is probably not the first choice for of rising names seeking representation in theatre or films. Nevertheless, it remains one of the best acting agencies in London that can get you places if you’re lucky enough to become a part of this group.
Website: http://www.wmeentertainment.com – The site is bereft of information and is WME’s worldwide online storefront; there isn’t a discrete site or page for the UK office. However, there is a good list of London contacts with their e-mail addresses and direct-dial numbers.
2. Conway van Gelder Grant
Conway van Gelder Grant is a popular London acting agency founded in 1968 that projects a much more welcoming presence when compared to WME’s website. It focuses exclusively on actors and is a favorite of many with experienced players, whether for films, theatre, radio, or TV.
The good news is that also compared to WME, Conway van Gelder Grant acting agency, despite its size and being one of the best acting agencies in London, welcomes applications from any ambitious young actors with the right portfolio. In that regard, it’s noteworthy that its page on casting website CastingCallPro.com features some relatively unknown faces.
Established actors on the agency’s 400-strong roster are almost exclusively British, which is a good sign for our London-based thespians. However, if you’ve moved to London from the US – who knows? – it may indicate there’s room for a suitably-qualified American for portfolio’s variety. Better-known clients include Claire Bloom, Helena Bonham-Carter , Benedict Cumberbatch, and David Harewood.
Website: http://www.conwayvangeldergrant.com – A very lively website, replete with acting agency’s news, information, and contact details for specific talent agents. There’s good how-to page for anyone wishing to apply for representation, so we’ll give them a pat on the back for that.
3. The Artists Partnership
The Artists Partnership is a leading UK talent agency for many types of performers. The former Ken McCreddie Associates was rebranded under this new title nearly two years ago, mainly to reflect changes made since being acquired by the Marcus Evans Group about five years previously.
The Artists Partnership remains one of the best acting agencies in London, a very popular and highly-regarded specialist group that are focused on players in film and theatre. The agency also represents a lot of voiceover artists, screenwriters, and playwrights, and they have a strong literary practice.
Like Conway van Gelder agency, TAP’s primarily a British talent agency, but their clients include several actors that are well-known to Americans and who consistently work in the USA: Joseph Fiennes, Idris Elba, and Helen Mirren. On top of that, this strong acting agency also represents a number of US actors, notably, Harvey Keitel and Kim Cattrall.
Website: http://www.theartistspartnership.co.uk – Although a little downbeat in tone, the site is informative enough, especially on the actors represented. Less helpfully, there are no contact details for individual agents, just a ‘tradesmen’s entrance’ for e-mail inquiries and the switchboard number. However, there is a helpful FAQs section, with guidance on how to apply for representation.
4. United Agents
A pretty much comprehensive agency, United Agents covers almost every element in entertainment creativity: actors, directors, voiceover artists, production crews, authors and screenwriters, composers and many more. Although their London office is the talent agency’s sole location, United Agents are known for an ability to place talent virtually anywhere in mainland Europe.
The extensive client roster includes several international luminaries, many of whom work regularly on US-based productions and whom you probably know well: Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy, and several Americans, such as Julianne Moore and Liza Minnelli.
It appears that United Agents also have a niche in crossover talent, such as supermodel Cara Delevigne, now starting to making her mark in films. If you’re a multi-talented creative type with a strong resume but with not enough credits in one particular niche, this fourth one of the best acting agencies in London could be a good point to start.
Website: http://unitedagents.co.uk – Much the most comprehensive of this list, so far, it includes a helpful search feature and names of all the main London acting agents, with e-mails, phone numbers, and interesting run-downs (photos, career history) of the clients represented by each. However, United no longer accepts applications from actors via the website and e-mailed applications “may not be seen or responded to”. Write to them instead.
5. Artists Rights Group
Artists Rights Group is one of the newer faces among the rest of best acting agencies in London; however, they are no less powerful in terms of the doors their agents can open for you. As the name suggests, this rather exclusive outfit prides itself on scrutinizing the small print of contracts diligently on behalf of clients.
Founded in 2001 by agent Sue Latimer and now owned by the US-headquartered Avalon Management Group, it has a reputation for working closely with actors in the development of their long-term careers, remaining loyal to them even in slump years. This is what we’ve heard around town and Internet, but how true this is remains to be confirmed further.
Artists Rights Group’s famous clients seem to be mainly the popular men, such as Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Everett, and Liam Neeson, and there aren’t that many of them, too. This, perhaps,is due to agency’s reputation for exclusivity and strong focus on single clients.
Website: http://argtalent.com – Reflecting that reputation, the site is a somewhat arch and, although it showcases its clients in considerable detail, says very little about itself. The text is peremptory and slightly forbidding. Only a selection of agents’ names is given but no individual contact details. Applications for representation are only accepted if sent by snail-mail and the agency also open about their policy of accepting such packages: “we do not acknowledge receipt of submissions and we can only return material if a stamped addressed envelope is included. Artists should retain copies of all material sent to us as we cannot be held responsible for any loss or damage”. That’s about as helpful as it gets.
6. Hamilton Hodell
The last one of the leaders on the list of best acting agencies in London, Hamilton Hodell is also considered a pretty exclusive place for actors privileged enough to be a part of. This acting agency, known in the industry and often referred to as ‘HH’, focuses on actors for film and TV, voiceover artists, actors for commercials and theatre.
The agency also represents a small coterie of casting directors, which is something you see more rarely among the top tier talent agencies. However, this can potentially be a huge perk for the agency and its creatives, as representing casting directors means an edge in placing its acting clients. The firm also has a particularly strong reputation among casting agents in the US.
HH has a substantial list of clients, including several leading names whom you will definitely know: Robert Carlyle, Emma Thompson, and David Oyelowo. Hamilton Hodell also represents a few noted American actors, including Anjelica Huston.
Website: http://www.hamiltonhodell.co.uk – Despite the reputed exclusivity of its owner, the site is breezy, open, and informative. Although the agents’ individual pages don’t include contact numbers or e-mails, each entry has full – very full – details of their clients. There is a good FAQs page, with a guide on how to apply for representation and a dedicated e-mail address.
The Boutiques: Top 4 Best Acting Agencies in London
There is a wide array of best acting agencies in London that are considered to be smaller outfits. They generally have a better name for looking after their clients more personally, but may offer less comprehensive access to acting opportunities. Here is a quick survey of four boutique talent agencies that focus exclusively on actors and, therefore, should serve you particularly well and that should also be easier to sign with if you’re not yet a name.
1. Hatton McEwan Penford
Not actually that small, this London talent agency has been around for over a quarter-century and claims close working relationships with several leading US counterparts.
Website: http://www.hattonmcewanpenford.com – A reasonably informative and well laid-out resource, with details of actors represented and a useful page on how to apply for representation. There are no contact details for individual talent agents, but there are outline biographies for each, a helpful feature not found among the leaders in my list.
2. The BWH Agency
Bradford Willoughby Hutton, known as BWH, was founded in 2004 and, like Hatton McEwan, prides itself on good American connections. Its relatively small client roster specifically includes a number of young actors.
Website: http://thebwhagency.co.uk – A lively website with details of its clients and agent bios, but not their contact information. Applications are made through a dedicated e-mail address.
3. Bloomfields Welch Management
Founded by Emma Bloomfield in 2004, this rather exclusive outfit has an interesting sideline: it places US actors in British film and theatre productions. However, these clients tend to be ‘names’, such as Lucy Liu and Luke Perry. Nonetheless, for an American actor coming to London, it shows the agency’s heart is in the right place.
Website: http://www.bloomfieldsmanagement.com – Not a very informative resource, with no agent names, nor a list of clients. It seems inclined to put off any but the determined applicant for representation, even if there is a ‘promise’ that each will be carefully considered. You can only apply via the [email protected] e-mail address given.
4. The Narrow Road Company
This rather hip-sounding agency is unique among all listed here in that it has two UK offices: one in London and one in Manchester. It has a long history, having been founded in London in 1986 by a few former actors. In terms of agent numbers, it’s the largest on my list of smaller best acting agencies in London, but that’s because it also represents writers and virtually every discipline in production.
Website: http://narrowroad.co.uk – Another lively site, but more focused on self-promotion than on helpful information. There’s only a small selection of client names, but there is a list of the individual agents, albeit, without bios or contact details. There are brief instructions on how to apply for representation by e-mail or post (snail-mail).
Agents Lone Wolves
If none of the places from the above list of best acting agencies in London is currently a possible option for you, don’t get discouraged. In such a world-class center for acting as London, there are any number of single-agent operators. One of those London talent agencies are probably better suited if you are a fresh face with only limited experience.
However, remember to do your research first so as not to fall victim to all types of acting business scams. If you are tempted to try a lone wolf agency, do plenty of homework first: ask around, especially on the industry’s buy-side (casting directors, production companies, etc) and, if the agent has a Facebook, Twitter, or other social media presence, follow them for a while and see how they feel to you.
Remember to keep checking Acting in London’s website, as we’ll be doing more research on the lone-wolf type of agencies and publishing a comprehensive list sometime soon. Stay tuned!