Trained Actor, Still in Training – Lesson Eight – Getting an Agent

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Image: chintermeyer @ Flickr - shared under Creative Commons)

Let’s talk about agents – and the worry that getting an agent is vital, and no acting career can begin or develop without one.

It has now been over a year since my third-year showcase at Birmingham School of Acting, the showcase from which I got my agent.

Recently friends from the following year of graduates had their showcase, and I received a few messages asking me about my agent. It reminded me of that nervous squelchy feeling that was in everybody’s stomachs around showcase time. “Will I get an agent?”, “What will happen if I don’t?”, “Was all this training and money and sweat and tears for nothing?”

I now look back at that time and laugh about how tense we all were. But I know it will be the same for all drama school graduates. That period of time feels like the most important time of their lives. I’m here to drop a few home truths about getting an agent.

1. You don’t need to get one straight away.

I know, that’s easy for me to say, right? Yes,  I was very lucky to get an agent directly from my showcase: but that doesn’t mean it was the end for those who didn’t. I have several friends who had no interest from showcase, who still managed to find themselves an agent within six months of leaving. In fact, one friend told me recently that without the pressure of showcase, he found researching and contacting agents to be a much more relaxing and enjoyable experience than he had when he was still at drama school.

2. You don’t need to get one at all.

Yes, I have an agent, but this tour I am currently on is a job I applied for myself through Casting Call Pro. There are tonnes of great jobs on there for actors who are starting out. Lots of great companies look for people on CCP – and you can rack up a good CV of credits (and, if it’s the right job, a decent amount of pay) without needing an agent. When I think of the people from my year who are working the most, the first two that come to mind don’t have agents. They have talent, a great work ethic, and tenacity. That’s all you really need to get work.

Plus, they get to keep all the money they make, unlike me. (There is a downside to having an agent – a 15% cut sized downsize)

3. Having an agent doesn’t guarantee you work.

On the flip-side, I can think of several people who have agents who have barely worked all year. Probably because they’re lazing back expecting their agent to do the work for them. Even the ‘best’ agencies can’t find work for lazy people.

And everyone’s experience is different. My close friend and I are with the same agency. So far I’ve been very happy with my experience with them, but she hasn’t been. When I was back in England, I was getting a casting a week. She hasn’t had half the amount of castings all year. The only thing we can put this down to is the fact that my short hair is getting me noticed. In fact, all the castings I went for were for, my hair was a factor. If I didn’t have short hair I don’t think I would have been seen for any of them.

I just wanted to put this information out there for all the people graduating from drama school this year, and hopefully to ease some of the anxiety that comes at this time in your lives.

Breathe. It’s going to be okay.