When scouting for a new talent agent using mailings, cover letter is an important part of the whole package, which also includes your acting CV/resume and a headshot.
That being said, acting agents are busy people and receive such applications every single day. Are you aware of all the tricks that can help get your cover letter noticed? What about all the mistakes that actors make which lower their already minuscule chances of getting an appointment? Here are some cover letter tips that should improve your submission-to-meeting ratio.
Cover Letter Dos and Don’ts
1. DO address the letter to a specific agent. Avoid using “Dear Sir/Madam,” “To whom it may concern” and “Dear agent.” Don’t know to whom you should be submitting? Back to the drawing board then. Do your research.
2. DON’T go beyond 3-5 sentences. Agents don’t have the time to read all the fluff, so get to the point right away. There should be no “I have been an actor for X amount of years, and now I am looking for representation, blablabla…” The agent already knows what you want.
3. DO describe only what matters most. Being concise within those 3-5 short sentences isn’t easy, so avoid mentioning anything that is already obvious from your acting CV/resume or headshot. No need to mention again that you’re black or white, woman or man, tall or short.
4. DON’T tell them your age. This should be pretty clear. In this superficial business, do not mention your age anywhere, to anybody, for any reason. Unless you have no choice or you’re positive that it’s safe to do so.
5. DO put your cover letter at the bottom of the mailing package. Make sure that your headshot is the first thing an agent sees, and your acting CV/resume second. Agents are known to throw cover letters away without reading sometimes, and that won’t be your primary selling point anyway.
6. DON’T give the agent an excuse to not call you. There should be no mentioning of your “lack of credits,” your weaknesses and any kind of self-deprecation. Also avoid lines like “get back to me at your earliest convenience.” You want the callback as soon as possible, so just omit this line.
7. DO take advantage of your own personality. Remember, you’re not in the corporate world (anymore?) No need to sound like a drone. Fit in a little bit of “real you” in there, because that is how you’re going to be selling yourself in the room, too.
8. DON’T do a mass mailing. Research a list of 10-15 agencies that you believe would take an inexperienced or semi-experienced actor or where you might fit best for whatever (realistic) reason. Research people in there whom you want to address, and do this round of mailing first, addressing every single cover letter accordingly.
9. DO use something that will make your cover letter stand out or look more memorable. If you’ve previously run into this agent, very quickly mention that. If you have a unique trait that you know the agency is currently looking for, that might work as well.
10. DON’T drop by unannounced. With so many talent out there, agencies are very busy, and most of them won’t appreciate people coming over without making an appointment. Follow the rules, send it out. It will get there anyway, don’t worry.
Be yourself and keep it professional. When the time is right, you’ll get the call.