What do you do when you finally become or want to become an actor? You run out and get an agent who then tells you to run out and get headshots. This is because you tend to rely on them as the professionals that will guide you and make your acting career take off.
But instead of relying on the agent as the SME (subject matter expert), you should really do your homework. I mean, do you even know what SAG/AFTRA means and whether or not you are eligible? At what point should you employ or build your own team when it comes to appearances, photoshoots, red carpet events and interviews? Just ask your agent if you need your own team and they will tell you “No!” Why, because they want to have complete control of you while eliminating the possibility of needing to communicate with your other decision makers when they know that you are new to the business of entertainment. An agent’s responsibility to you and ALL OF THEIR OTHER CLIENTS is to book you acting jobs and set up auditions. It is not their job to do your PR, manage your career, styling, website, social media or photography. They DO NOT MAKE YOU FAMOUS. However, if you do become famous, they will take full credit for discovering you.
FIVE REASONS THAT YOUR NAME ON THE ROSTER IS COLLECTING DUST AT A TALENT AGENCY
1. You can’t act. Your agent may have trouble telling you this. You will need your own manager for this. Having your own personal manager is necessary for when making recommendations for acting classes and negotiating contracts come into play.
2. You have no credits. Before you drop that bundle of headshots into the mailbox, do you ever wonder why exactly an agent would be interested in you? Most of us just do it and pray that something will spark their interest, but why don’t we even know what might ignite that spark? How can we possibly be sold, when we don’t know what we have to offer? If you don’t know what you have to offer, you have nothing to offer. Regardless of headshots, reel, and genetic predisposition, you have to have credits. The main criteria for any job is experience, and in the case of acting, credits. If you have not done any professional work, you are not a professional actor yet.
3. You have no relationships. No relationships and no credits means there’s very little an agent can do for you. If you don’t know any casting directors or producers, your agent basically has their hands tied behind their back. They are submitting blind and hoping for a miracle.
4. 10 percent. That’s what agents get paid. That means that an agent is not going to put their reputation on the line pitching the heck out of you until they are sure you are the second coming of George Clooney or Jennifer Lawrence. Even if you have great credits and relationships coming out of your pockets, agents have a roster of many actors and since their income is derived incrementally from each actor, no single actor is worth sticking their neck out over. Their overall reputation is far more important than any single actor, and if actors want more attention, they need to prove they will increase their agent’s income proportionally.
5. An agent can’t change who you are. If you can’t talk/charm/impress your way into a casting room, then how do you think an agent is going to? They can’t and certainly won’t try to change the facts. They can’t fabricate credits, relationships, skills they don’t already know about and they are certainly not going to lie for some fresh-face-du-jour who might be off their roster by month’s end. It’s up to an actor to create some kind of story for an agent to tell. It’s fine to have deficiencies in one area, but you have to make up for them in another. Despite what you might hear “on the street,” no one wants to develop you. That’s like gambling blind with really long odds and very little to gain. Agents and managers are happy to sell you, but they have to know what they are selling and it needs to be more than a headshot.
So, while it’s great to have someone in the business trying to get you work, you don’t need them anymore than they need you until you reach a few key milestones and learn all that you can about the business. Don’t be disappointed. Be happy knowing that if you get a few of the above criteria going for you, getting and having an agent is easy and more importantly, it will be easy for them to get you appointments.