10 Tips for Getting An Agent
by Rachael Patterson
1. Do your homework. Every franchised SAG-AFTRA talent agency has a website. Read what they’ve written about their agency, then look at the actors they represent. Do you see anyone who looks like your “type?” If you can, look at that actor’s resume and see where they have trained, what theatres they have worked at, television shows they have booked, notice their special skills. This’ll give you an idea of the kind of actors the agency has already responded to.
2. Do Theatre – Most Chicago actors are theatre actors. Chicago is a theatre and improvtown. The expectation from the players in this market is that you have a strong background in one of these forms. Agents “shop” at the theatre; it’s, for most, where they find new talent. Doing a role over a sustained amount of time is not only satisfying for the actor, but is what allows you to grow and develop as an artist. Theatre is where you develop your “chops” and your street cred. As Mary Ann Ziesch of Actors Talent Group says “I need to see solid theatre experience on a resume to consider new talent.”
3. Submit to your target agents every 6 months…with an update about something NEW you have added to your skill set; bookings/plays/training/new headshots. But only submit IF you have something new to share.
4. Work on having 2 great contemporary monologues…which are
- your age
- your type
- if the piece is simple and dramatic…make sure there is humor
- if the piece is more comedic…make sure it’s truthful-
- choose conversational, natural material, as opposed to highly theatrical, absurd or extremely heightened language.
5. Make sure you have On Camera training on your resume. When meeting an agent you may need to audition with a prepared television side, or cold read commercial, industrial or film sides. Secondly, the agent wants to know you understandthe technical demands of working on camera, as well as how to navigate the variety of scripts and genres…so that they can feel confident submitting you for work.
6. Make sure you have a great headshot, which looks like you and tells a story. The very best headshots reveal something specific about YOUR personality.
7. Make your cover letter, short, specific and upbeat. Talk about the work you’ve already done, any referrals you may have, where you train and specific goals. Marisa Paonessa of Paonessa Talent suggests “Show ambition in your cover letter. Ambition in the industry to an agent is sexy!
8. Referrals can help. Grossman Jack Agent Jess Jones shares “As an agent and as an agency, we take talent referrals very seriously. If you are working with an actor (someone you like and trust and respect), and if they are working with an agency you also like and respect, a referral of you to their agent would probably go a long way.”
9. Remember, this is a business and even though agents are usually friendly folk, it doesn’t mean they are your friend, so don’t act too familiar or over share when you first meet a potential agent. Think “business casual” behavior in which professionalism, timeliness, and preparedness are key.
10. And remember….it’s a process…a journey, one that is different for every actor. Breathe, relax and enjoy your own path!