How to Find a Talent Agent

by Cathy McKim

Picture of arrow pointing toward talent

Getting a good agent may not be easy but there are many things you can do to improve your chances.

If you've been acting for awhile, you might begin to think it's time for you to look for an agent. If that's the case, first decide what you want in an agent. Consider how strong your resume is, what kind of experience you have, whether you are a union member, whether you have had an agent before, and what kind of work you want to do. You must look realistically at yourself, your ambitions, your talents, and decide what kind of agent you need at this stage in your career. Few actors spend their entire professional life with one agent.

Agencies can be categorized in many ways: do they represent clients for extra work, or for actor and principal roles; do they promote clients for union or non-union work; are there many agents, or only one or two; does the agency maintain a large or a small roster; does the agent pay close attention to each client's career, or act as a booking agent; do they represent established, experienced actors, or develop new talent. Some of this can be found in the listings in this book. The rest you must learn from the agent and others in the industry.

Don't give in to desperation. While many kinds of work can only be accessed through an agent, there are projects that are available to the unrepresented actor who works at self-promotion. Signing with an agent is a major step in the development of your career. Make sure that the agent is right for you. Committing yourself to the wrong agent out of panic may place you in a worse situation than when you had no agent at all.

In order to get what you want in an agent, you must also be able to offer an agent what they want in a client. Compromises may be necessary, particularly in the early stages of your career. However, once the negotiations are over and you have a mutually satisfactory agreement with your agent, keep in mind that you are the client; you have hired the agent to perform services on your behalf.

Getting a good agent is not easy. There are many things you can do to improve your chances. Take classes to improve your skills and make contacts; do whatever you can to gain experience: community theatre, fringe theatre, student films & videos, non-union work, co-op productions; create your own projects; develop your craft at every opportunity. Keep in contact with receptive agents; invite them to see you in theatre projects you've developed.

Once you have an agent, don't expect your agent to make it happen for you while you sit back and collect cheques. Keep in touch with your agent, and continue to develop your skills. Your agent may be able to suggest ways to do this that you have not yet considered. Work with your agent to improve your chances and build your future.
Cathy McKim is an author and blogger living in Toronto, Canada. She studied visual arts at York University and acting at George Brown Theatre School. By day, she works as a copy editor/staff writer. After hours, she can be found acting, scenic painting, or involved in other forms of visual arts projects. She also finds time to write short stories, personal essays and blog posts. Her article is an excerpt from "An Actor's Guide to Agencies in Toronto" published by Moonlighters Publishing Inc.

With thanks to: Jeff Andrews, Colin Armstrong, Shari Caldwell, Cari Fallis, Michael Gaitt, Jennifer Goldie, Megan Goldwell, Carolyn Govers, Frank Hogg, Gerry Jordan, Cindee Karnick, Peter McGuire, Fran Messinger, Sandie Newton, Penny Noble, Michael Oscars, Louise Parent, Mark Preston, Nancy Ramos, Estella Ruston and Sandi Sloan for their time, insight and humour.

Copyright © Moonlighters Publishing Inc. Used with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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