Trying to get signed by a talent agent may not be the easiest task, particularly when you’re just starting with your acting career. Fortunately or not, there are several parts to acquiring your first representation. When actors can get at least some of parts down well, that may finally result in teaming up with a decent acting agent.
We have previously discussed how important it is for actors to avoid looking unprofessional and desperate in front of talent agents. There are many ways to ensure that you will never get represented, but even if you’re completely green with very small body of work, putting yourself in proper light can increase your chances substantially.
If you want to get an agent, you need to do your homework. Actors need to research all the talent agencies in their city, pick the ones that can potentially sign them, prepare a solid headshot and resume, have impeccable cover letters to agents and get ready for a meeting, in case the invitation does come.
Talent agency meeting is what we’re going to discuss in this article. You may have decent credits, a perfect headshot and a marketable look, but if you “misbehave” yourself during an agency meet and seem unprofessional, it’s unlikely any agent will sign you. Here’s what actors need to know.
How to Have a Successful Agency Meeting
First of all, if you did get a meeting with an agent – congratulations! This is an accomplishment in itself, since majority of actors are unable to get even this far. It’s competitive out there, so give yourself a pat on the back. The next step is to ensure that the agent you’re meeting with actually WANTS you, and a simple smile and a happy face won’t cut it.
Arriving to the agency meeting
Perfect timing is crucial, as every veteran actor knows. Although many others are and always will be late, punctuality is important. Remember that in this industry, if you arrive on time, you’re already late.
You must give yourself at least 5-10 minutes extra, just in case you need to visit the loo, where you can also calm down and maybe whisper a prayer, chat with the cute assistant, have a sip of your water and take a long-deep-breath.
The earlier you come, the better it is for you. Spend some time with yourself and prepare. Concentrate your thoughts and be ready to walk into the agency meeting with confidence, rather than being short of breath from trying not to be late.
Good agents are usually busy throughout the whole day and waiting for actors who are late will most certainly not please them.
Preparation for an agency meeting
When you’re there and ready, and after you have gone through your rituals in the bathroom, it’s time to meet the man or woman who might be in charge for the rest of your career. Start with a very quick chat with the assistant and then letting the assistant know that you’re here for the scheduled meeting.
Depending on your luck, you will either be sat down to wait, or invited into the office (although I’m not sure which one is the luckier option).
These agency meetings usually take from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on your personal connection with the agent. None of the timing is the mark of how successfully the meeting went (although, if you’re asked to leave after 1 minute — you probably aren’t going to be signed).
Remember to be nice to the assistant. Talent agents usually work closely with their assistants, and even ask for their advice and opinion when signing new clients. Keep this in mind.
Starting the agency meeting
Once you’re invited and enter the agent’s office, stay confident and avoid being nervous. How can you not be nervous? Psyche yourself into it. There’s no reason for you to be: the agent obviously liked you already, because you’re in a meeting; the agent wants to sign you and make money from your work. Keep this in mind, but avoid being arrogant.
Shake the agent’s hand firmly (but only if the hand has been offered), look straight at the agent, say “Hello” and proceed like it was your regular job interview. Everybody knows what being professional and presentable is like, so keep to that.
Here’s what you should avoid doing:
- Don’t ask the agent to pull up your website if he/she wants your information
- Don’t tell the agent that you’ve already sent/given them your package
- Don’t shove at the agent anything more than what they need to see
Once all the paperwork is out of the way, it’s time to have a real conversation.
Conversation with the agent
The agent will start the conversation, so let them do that; don’t bomb the agent with your questions at the very beginning. The way this usually begins is with a small talk, then the agent will tell you about themselves and ask questions about you. After a bit of chit chat, you’ll start getting moments of silence: that’s the cue for you to start talking and sell yourself to the agent.
Show off your great personality, positive attitude, professionalism, friendliness and signs of a very hardworking actor who’s eager to work and maintain a good relationship with the agent.
Try your best to keep the anxiety levels at bay. The agent knows that you’re nervous, and some anxiety is fine, but you need to be able to contain yourself. If you’re not good at it, try doing some meditation before the meeting, doing some yoga, avoid drinking too much coffee or have a slow short walk in a park beforehand.
Even though you begin the meeting as a standard job interview, this is not the case once you’re sat down and having a discussion with the agent. This is a different industry, a different business; you’re an actor and an artist, and you’re not applying for a cubicle-kind of job at your local IT center. Personality will go a long way.
The biggest mistake actors do is assume that it’s going to be an “interrogation,” and that the agent will ask all the questions and then you’ll leave. That is NOT the case. You’ll have to work a little here: make this into a real conversation with a real person, not a boring question-answer interview.
Engage the agent, and ask some good questions! If you have to, prepare those questions in advance (memorize and don’t write them down on a cheat sheet).
If you’re positive that you’re definitely funny, then you can throw in some good short jokes or funny short stories about yourself.
Do not bad-mouth ANYBODY in the industry: not your previous agent, not an actor or director you worked with – nobody. You never know what relationship the agent may have with that person.
Do not be negative about the industry, or anything else, really. Do not complain how you’ve been working hard and can’t get jobs, or anything to that extent. Give off a positive vibe and eagerness to work hard no matter what. The agent wants to see your excitement about this industry.
Ending the agency meeting
At the end of your agency meeting, the agent will probably let you ask some more questions. Once this cue comes in, do have something to ask, but don’t turn this into a reversed interview. Have a couple smart questions about the agent or an agency itself that are relevant to you as a future talent on the list. This is important.
Once that is out of the way, it’s time to go. Be quick about it and don’t make it into a long goodbye. The agent will let you know when it’s time to leave, so you don’t have to worry about thinking of this yourself; they don’t take issue with showing the door to actors.
Maintain your confidence: stand up, look at them, shake their hand (again, only if offered) and turn around to leave. Do not reach for your resume and headshot no matter what – that’s the agency’s property now, and you don’t want them to smell your unprofessional-ism or desperation.
As you leave, say goodbye to the agent, definitely say goodbye to the assistant, and now it’s time to go take a shower. If you feel the agency meeting went well without any complications, then it probably did. All you have to do right now is wait.