How to Meet Agents Without Being a Creep
By Sarah Hurley
The acting industry is incredibly competitive and with so much talent to choose from, agents find themselves with more prospective clients than they can handle. I spent the summer at a boutique agency and opened many large envelopes containing headshots and resumes and “give me a shot and you won’t be sorry” cover letters. Due to the sheer volume of submissions, a great many of these end up in the recycling bin after a quick glance over. Out of desperation, some actors try to stand out. Although we are encouraged to think outside the box and make choices that are different than everyone else, when it comes to seeking representation too much deviation from the norm makes it look like you don’t know the industry standards at best and is just plain annoying at worst (sending an envelope full of craft glitter will cause you to be remembered in a less-than-desirable-manner). That being said, here are some classy and crafty ways to get yourself on an agent’s radar according to the agents I worked with this summer.
1. Invite the intern or assistant.
Many agencies take on assistants or interns to help with logistical work. Inviting them has a whole host of benefits. The agents themselves are usually swamped with work and are not likely to spend time seeing someone they’ve never heard of in a show. Between seeing all of their clients in shows and having a life outside of work it’s unlikely they will come see you unless you have some major clout. An assistant, or intern especially, is much more likely to come see the show, especially if it is a college student such as myself who is not going to pass up a comp ticket. If you’re fantastic the intern/assistant is likely to mention you to the agents and boom, you’re on their radar. These interns/assistants are also future agents and they’ll remember that you reached out to them way back when and be more likely to come to you in the future.
2) Ask your cast mates if they have representation.
Actors are usually proud if they’ve landed an agent and will happily talk about if you ask. If you’re in a show ask if they are working with an agent and if they’ve enjoyed it. See if the agent is coming to the show. A note sent to an agent’s office that begins with, “I’m in a show with your client XYZ and am seeking representation” is much less likely to just end up in the recycling. If they are already going to support their client it takes no effort to see you and if you’re fantastic it’s a win-win. They score a new awesome client with no extra legwork.
3) Attend an Actor’s Connection Event.
Always research these sort of things to make sure you’re not being taken advantage of. I was always skeptical of these “pay to meet agents” events because it always seemed vaguely scammy. I attended one with an agent from the office I interned at, however, and she said that they do sign people from these events. What happens, in a nutshell, is that actors pay to workshop audition material and take classes. At the end of the workshop the actors audition in front of a panel of agents who give feedback to the actors. This is a fantastic way to get great feedback and get yourself in front of agents when you are just starting out (most of the notes had to do with headshot and resume formatting. Invest in good headshots and don’t fill up your resume so much. It’s difficult to read and you’re ahead of the curve).
Sometimes trying to get your foot in the door can feel like the most absurd of challenges, but keep your cool and remain persistent and you’ll find your way in. If you are a student take advantage of it! I got to sit on the other side of the table for a summer in a way I would never have been able to as a “working actor”. “Student” is a magical status. Take advantage of it while you can!
SARAH HURLEY (she/her) is currently studying acting at Pace University. Outside of Doghouse Ensemble Theatre she is the technical director for Pace University’s Stand Up Productions with whom she recently directed A Game by Dennis E. Nobel. Sarah has extensive experience acting and directing with Project Shakespeare in the Monadnock Region and is a three-time recipient of the New Hampshire Educational Theatre Guild All Start Company Award for acting.