How to Stand Out to Potential Acting Agents
The decision about when to engage an agent as an actor is a deeply personal one and frequently follows a different timeline from one individual to the next.
However, if you have decided that the time has come to find representation, it is not as simple as picking an agent and signing up.
While it is true that some agencies may be more open to signing than others, most are still going to assess you and your merits to determine if you are a good fit for them.
Even if you have a decent body of work behind you and are increasingly well-known, an agency may decline to take you on.
So how can you increase your chances of being signed to your preferred agency? In this guide, we’ll take a look at how you can stand out to an agent and secure the representation you desire.
The first thing to note is the type of agency you are applying to. Most agencies will specialise in one or two areas within the industry such as television and film, or possibly only theatre.
Some may also have preferences around the age groups or experience levels they willingly represent among other things. Make sure before you contact an agent or agency that you have thoroughly researched who they are, who they represent and what they typically specialise in.
For example, you are not going to stand out or be the right fit for an agency that typically works with television and you’re focused on Hollywood blockbusters. Equally, they won’t be best placed to help you achieve your goals either so keep this in mind.
What Are Acting Agents Looking For?
There is no single list of attributes or achievements you must have to successfully sign with an agent or acting agency.
Truthfully, every agent or agency may work to different criteria or adjust this depending on their current needs or available portfolio of actors already signed with them.
As agents make their money through a percentage of your earnings once signed, they are understandably geared towards signing individuals who they believe have the most potential.
They will be looking for:
No matter how good-looking or appealing you are at face value, without talent, your career as an actor is likely to be short-lived. Plenty of actors are signed and then dropped because of this.
Agents want to see real talent that has the potential for career longevity and continued growth, this serves you and them best in the long run – particularly where financial gain is concerned!
You’ll either be their type and considered easy to market or you won’t.
If an agency is seeking tall, youthful actors of European ancestry and you’re shorter, older and have alternate heritage, there is nothing you can do to change this and you shouldn’t feel compelled to try.
Confidence in who you are, embracing what you have to offer and being genuinely yourself is also key to success in this industry. Plenty of agencies embrace diversity, so don’t give up if you don’t meet the usual marketability criteria.
Hard work and dedication will always stand out to an agency. Being able to demonstrate that you are committed and continually working and studying in the industry is something agents consistently look for.
They’re going to be actively seeking out opportunities for you so they need to know you are open to working as much as possible and willing to work hard.
Very few agents or agencies will consider signing up an amateur actor with little to no proven work experience or public profile.
An experienced actor is not only a better bet for an agent in terms of securing work, but they understand how to behave and uphold professional standards.
Your behaviour and skill in auditions or on a job reflect on an agency and their reputation is something they want to protect and uphold at all times.
Always behaving respectfully and professionally will impress your agent and make you more likely to be signed and retain representation.
Don’t be afraid to ask people you’ve worked with for a referral where appropriate.
A well-connected actor or one who is referred by a well-known name in the industry can go a long way towards making a great impression and earning you a one-on-one meet-up with an agency.
How To Make The Best Impression In 7 Steps
On occasion, an agent may seek you out if your star is on the rise, but this is less common. Typically, before you ever sit down with an agent, you’re going to be expected to apply to work with them.
This means crafting an exceptional submission for their consideration. To do this, you’ll want to follow the following tips.
1. Create A Compelling Introduction
Almost all submissions these days are going to be via email. You want to make sure that your email subject heading stands out and hooks the agent at first glance.
This is their first introduction to you so rather than titling your email with something lacklustre such as ‘Seeking Representation’ be creative and bold.
Sell yourself with a line such as ‘Rave reviews recently received!’ or if a known casting director or coach has recommended the agency ‘Referred to you by (name)’ is also a great option and immediately lends credibility to your submission.
2. Don’t Overload With Attachments
Less is more when it comes to attachments on an agency submission email. Most agents are not going to open more than one or two and you want to ensure the ones they do open are the most important.
Try to limit yourself to no more than three to four attachments, namely your CV as a PDF and a couple of headshots. Be sure to have each attachment properly labelled too as this makes it even easier for the agent to navigate.
3. Include A Winning Demo Reel
You should already have a demo reel prepared for auditions, if this needs updating or tweaking to better showcase your talents and career highlights, then be sure to do so.
A hyperlink to your demo reel (preferably on your own website or online acting profile) is ideal as this makes it quick and easy for the agent to review and come back to as needed.
4. Keep It Simple
Your email should be a brief cover letter made up of no more than two to three short paragraphs. Anything longer and the agent is likely to skip over it – they do not need an exhaustive history of your life.
Focus on introducing yourself and touch on your background, experience and career goals. Maintain a personable, but professional tone and leave enough gaps that they can come back and ask you questions.
5. Prepare Referrals
Virtually anyone can pretend to be a referee of note, as such referrals are not always the added boost they appear to be.
Where possible, include referrals from individuals who are well-known in the industry or whose identity is easily verifiable and holds weight as a trusted expert.
Don’t forget to ask your referee specifically about their willingness to refer you and for their permission to list their contact details in your submission.
6. Avoid Making Hard Copy Submissions
Digital submissions are preferred by most agencies these days. Among other reasons, they are easier to keep track of and make replying and sharing much simpler.
If you feel compelled to send a hard copy, be warned, that agencies are disinclined to review anything included on a flash drive. Not only are they fiddly and time-consuming, but they may also contain harmful malware or viruses.
7. Consider The Agent’s Perspective
When preparing your submission, always review it before sending it and think about it as though you were the one it is being sent to.
Put yourself in the agent’s shoes and consider what you’d like to see in a new talent if you were them. Top agencies receive hundreds if not thousands of new submissions each month – it is easy to be lost amongst all these.
Taking the time to think about what they want and tailoring your submission accordingly can help you stand out and receive the reply you hope for.
The Actors Pulse – Helping You Prepare For Agency Success
If you are feeling ready to take your career to the next level and sign with an agent, we’re here to help!
At The Actors Pulse, our team of highly experienced acting coaches can help you review and refine your skills for the best possible impression.
Become a sought-after talent that is renowned for their professionalism and dedication through ongoing education at our acting school.
As the leading school for the Meisner Technique in the Southern Hemisphere, we hold a respected reputation within the industry. We have many successful alumni who have signed with agencies and continue to lead fulfilling careers as actors.
To learn how we can support you to achieve your acting goals and make the best impression when applying for agencies, contact The Actors Pulse today at 0414 475 515.
Learn more about The Actors Pulse, the Meisner Technique and our classes.
Billy Milionis is one of the few Australians to have ever studied under the legendary master teacher, the late Sanford Meisner. Billy has also studied story structure and scene analysis techniques with John Truby and later at UCLA. He has also spent several years doing improvisation in Hollywood with the L.A. Connection. In addition, he trained in the technique of Stella Adler, Practical Aesthetics and Lee Strasberg’s method.