The number one question I get from actors is, “How can I get an agent?” And my reply is, “What are you doing to separate yourself from the five hundred other people who approached that agent that day?”
The answer I usually get is, “Huh?” as if suddenly I was speaking Swahili.
First of all, do you need an agent? If you want to be taken seriously in this business the answer is…YES. Why? Because having an agent is a signal to the hiring world (casting directors, directors, producers) that you are a professional. It also elevates your status separating you from the hordes of actors that don’t have representation and are self-submitting. There is nothing wrong with self-submitting it’s just that the odds are stacked against you.
Do you have to have an agent to be a working actor? No. But if you want to do something with your talent other than preform in community theatre the answer again is…yes.
So what can you do to “Wow!” an agent? The first thing is to have not a good but rather an outstanding headshot. One that is current, one that looks like you, one that will open doors for you and one that will represent you when you can’t be there in person. Do you have one of those?
Next, what sort of shape is your resume in? How current is it? Are you still using credits from high school? How is the resume laid out? Is it easy to read? Hard to read? And the information that’s on there, is it true? Please don’t lie. If you’re new to the business don’t try to hide that fact with a bunch of false credits. The agent’s wife/brother/sister/father/mother/girlfriend/boyfriend may have directed “that” production of “that” show on your resume. And if the agent liked you before but then finds out you’re lying…there goes that relationship.
Next, let’s say you had a meeting with an agent. He/she likes you and wants you to come in to audition for the rest of the agency. Are you ready? If you aren’t in a show, what are you doing to keep your craft in shape? In our business, if you’re not using your skills you’re losing them. So, what are you doing to keep them honed?
I always felt being an actor was akin to being a professional athlete. And I always felt part of my job, a huge part of my job, was to make sure I was in shape. Not just physically but also to make sure my acting chops were in top form too. So, whenever I wasn’t working I was in class.
If an agent is considering taking you on, he’ll want to know what you’re doing to keep yourself, your skill set, in top form so you can book the auditions he’s busting his ass to get for you. If you’re not in a show, what are you doing to keep your skills in shape?
What about other supporting material? Is your IMBD page up to date? Do you have a reel? A VO demo? Are they current?
In a way getting an agent is like dating. First impressions are important. You need to do everything in your power to create a package that is as attractive and prepared as it can be. Make sure you have a great headshot, your resume and reel are up to date, and that you’re at the top of your game when it comes to your craft. Do everything you can so when that agent opens the metaphorical door they take one look at you and say, “Wow!”