Every single actor in this industry who currently isn’t represented by an acting agent is constantly craving for one. It seems as if actors believe that agents have this sort of mystical powers given them by the druids of the Forodwaith, and will save anyone they chose by giving away lead parts for the upcoming blockbuster hit films.
While the latter might not be so true, acting agents definitely can open a door or two for a struggling actor, especially if they’re talented. Therefore, it’s totally reasonable to worry about how to get an agent very early in your career, but you need to know how to go about this.
Most novice actors who are not familiar with the way this business works will give the idea of having a talent agent represent them more credit than it deserves. This leads them to become desperate and take drastic – and sometimes ridiculous – moves in order to score an agent.
So if you’re a newcomer to the acting industry, and you’re looking for advice on how to appear less professional in the eyes of a talent agent that you want to be signed with, I’ve got some actionable tips for you. Turn off your sarcasm detector so it doesn’t overheat and you can take these into account.
Inspired by true events.
7 Tips on How to NOT Get an Acting Agent
1. Start submitting to acting agents the second you have decided to become an actor, even if you have never acted before.
As soon as the idea that acting can be the career for you popped into your head, when you still haven’t even considered the training you’ll have to go through, drama schools or Universities, acting classes and workshops, getting bit parts in student films, experiencing what a life of an actor could be — make sure to email every single agent in the city and let them know that you’re an aspiring actor looking for representation.
They might or might not be as excited about the prospect as you are.
2. Go to random talent agencies’ offices in your city with your acting resume as if you’re applying for a waiting staff position.
Everybody in the agency will be thrilled to meet you! Especially since you’re a new face on the block without much of experience and name for yourself. Very few talent agencies consider putting in the work beforehand as something valuable, and most are of the opinion that it’s a waste of time.
Not only that, but talent agents find it endearing when actors simply come by unannounced with the intention of leaving their
headshots snapshots and resumes for consideration. This demonstrates actors’ loyalty and trust in the agency.
Remember to also express your interest in getting a meeting with one of the agents, or maybe even call a conference of all agents in the agency so they can take a look at you. These places are usually not busy and they live for these opportunities.
Don’t be surprised if you’ll be asked to leave immediately; their agents are probably just away for the time being. Try again in a few hours.
3. Offer your headshots and acting CV to agents on any possible occasion. It works best during funerals.
Everyone knows actors should be very aggressive when it comes to getting representation. If you’re in the gym’s locker room and you know the person going towards showers is an acting agent, don’t pass the opportunity to slip them your acting resume and possibly a headshot, too. They can check those out while the hair conditioner is taking effect.
Same goes for when you’re in the hospital, or at the funeral, or maybe just running around in the park. There is never a bad time to approach an acting agent and ask for representation. This all goes back to talent agent’s constant desperation to sign actors 24/7.
4. Lie on your resume and during the agency meeting because that’s what every actor does. Duh.
In order to get a good agent to represent you, you need a good acting resume, so fill a blank piece of paper with impressive credits: film, theater, TV, all types of acting training and special skills.
Put it all there. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if all of that is true. So if you’ve been on a major film set working as an extra, don’t hesitate to include that as well.
You should apply the same practice when you’re meeting with an acting agent that may be interested in you. Tell them how great you are and mention those known drama schools you’ve never gone to: there is no way the agent can call them up and ask, and they definitely don’t have connections with people from the city’s major talent factory.
Most agents are very understanding towards lies, because they get that it’s the best way to get ahead in this industry.
5. Prepare a list of excuses in case the agent starts questioning you. Make sure they are creative enough.
For example, if you follow the advice above and lie on your resume, and the intrusive agent finds out that you lied because he knows a little about that production (almost never happens) – have a list of excuses prepared. What actors don’t know is that talent agents love good excuses, because it shows that an actor had the time to think things through.
The same applies to when you’re already signed with an acting agent. So if you couldn’t respond to their calls for days at a time, don’t concern yourself with training, when you’re late or even do not show up for an audition your agent got for you – just have an excuse.
You cannot not have an excuse.
6. Today, marketing yourself is the only thing that matters, so forget about the actual craft of acting and training. It’s worthless.
Long gone are the days when directors, producers, talent agents and casting directors cared if an actor can actually act. Nobody’s interested in your talent these days. When you meet an agent and do a monologue or scene reading for them, they won’t pay much attention to your ability to create a believable character.
It’s the age of networking and marketing yourself, regardless of your skills. To become a famous actor, all you need is for your name to be out there, and that should be your primary concern.
Most agents agree that you will only squander valuable time with all the hard work you put into perfecting yourself as an artist, and agents really hate actors who waste time.
7. Personal connections are overrated, so don’t bother yourself or the acting agent by making one.
Speaking of networking, remember that it’s all just business and there is no benevolence in this industry, particularly when it comes to acting agents. These people never care about their actors, and only see them as an opportunity to make their 10-20% cut. This means that actors should only see their representation as service providers in the entertainment industry.
Whatever small talk you have during the agency meeting, or especially lunch with an agent discussing both of yours lives, goals, interests, passions, families and other personal things: let it go. This is none of actors’ concern.
You’re the star. You have an acting career to focus on and space in your head to memorize lines; it’s not like you’re going to be working together closely or for a long time.
These seven pieces of advice, inspired by true events from multiple instances, should go a long way for actors whose goal is to not get signed by a talent agent. If that is you, please follow these tips to a letter and you will succeed without a doubt.
However, if the aim for your acting career is different – possibly completely the opposite – turn those around. Talent agents are in the same position like yourself: they are real people who have their own goals, careers, families and problems to focus on, just like any one of us trying to make a living in this tough business.
If you’re professional enough from the get go, and you treat your current or potential agent with compassion and understanding, then – knock on wood – you may even get signed.