If you ever wondered why an agent deserves 10-20% of your income, we are sorting this out for you below.
If you’re that sort of really independent and autonomous person, it’s likely that you reject the simple idea of someone running tasks for you. Maybe you are that kind of an actor who really pulls the strings around to get that audition and seal that cast. Maybe you have trust issues or perhaps you’re a funny case of a demonstrative introvert that cannot handle sharing responsibilities with anyone when it comes to your career. Everything above is OK. But here is a point of view (actually, several more) that could alter your perspective towards your own welfare and convince you that you do need an acting agent.
Let’s analyze the pros and cons of getting an agent, shall we?
If you’re an actor (on stage, on the set or in commercials), a comedian, a voice actor or a musical actor, you do know that every large industry runs on niches. That means that for each particular domain in which you are or could eventually activate, there are certain aspects that you need to know, there is a situational past and a set of interpersonal circumstances that you need to be sensitive about and a particular circle of people you need to be familiar with. Basically, if your intuition is working fine, we are suggesting there is probably only one disadvantage about getting an agent: sharing a part of your income. That might be disturbing for those who put a part of their soul into every role they get to play and therefore chew on their finger nails for every penny, or for those with a rather anti-capitalist attitude towards the entertainment industry, but we recommend you take a deep breath and hear us out.
Benefits of Working with an Acting Agent
It might sound unfair and yes, in some moments it definitely is, but do you know that feeling when some other actor secured an audition instead of you, even if you consider you would have been more suitable to do the role? Well, now you can talk to your therapist about that and move on. You won’t need to go through that again, because if you get an acting agent (at least one who is really good at his or her job), they will secure auditions for you with priority. Some agents even have access to privately restricted auditions who are not even communicated to the open public. Think again now: is keeping 10 percent of your income worth skipping a large plate of opportunities?
An acting agent does more than fixing your public image for a better peer review and getting you gigs or deals. Being in a good agent’s roster means definitely more exposure for you and a certain confirmation of your value. The same way you care about your agent being certified and competent, the fact that the agent agrees to work with you, especially if he is a part of a larger agency and has some good echo tagged along his name is the same way around a guarantee that he or she believes in your talent. That fixes not only the relationship between you two on a professional and interpersonal level, but also your image reflected in the eye of the industry.
Maybe it’s difficult to foresee these situations now, if you’re a beginner or an intermediate, but circumstances will come along when you might need to fiercely negotiate your income, to refuse a role or to ask for some specific conditions. It is a lot more elegant for you to stand aside after your talent is booked, than to negotiate yourself. Some even say it’s vulgar for your to represent yourself after a certain level in your career. Without going that far, we simply advise that you have a third party representing your best interest who has done this many times before and already knows what is a mistake and what is a brilliant idea. Acting agents are usually people with a very good intuition or, if you will, call it a sixth sense. The fact that you have one on your side who will fight the dragons simply leaves more time for you to focus on perfecting your craft, relax, rehearse and take voice or dance lessons or learn a new monologue.
To make things clear, we definitely believe that if you do get an acting agent, it still doesn’t do magic if you’re talentless and lazy. It’s also false to believe that staying independent is a guarantee for failure. There are plenty of actors out there who are extremely famous and appreciated who not even once accepted to be enrolled in a talent agency or not even to be represented by an independent agent. They simply managed their own time between acting lessons, workshops, meetings, conferences, parties, premieres, rehearsals, tete-a-tetes with directors, casting directors, fellow artists, courses and well… acting itself. They established their own positioning in the industry and built their own relationships. That is fine, but if you choose this option, consider getting a private phone number reserved for your family and close ones!
If you’re determined to start working with a talent agent and don’t know how, start by researching official databases like SAG or ACTRA and make sure to check for the license and for the experience of the agent. I mean, don’t necessarily pick the first result in your Google search. If you’re really determined to aim for the stars, you might want to consider moving to the two places where the magic actually happens: NYC or Los Angeles. No doubt your path will be smooth if you place yourself among the hotshots. You also need to keep in mind to read that contract a thousand times before you sign it and check the circumstances under which you can break up with your representative if you won’t desire to work with him or her anymore. Sometimes, contracts can be very mischievous and put you in a delicate position. Getting out of there can sometimes cost you a fortune depending on how good the lawyer is. Be cautious and research info about him or her before you take a decision and get an acting agent. Good luck!