The decision whether or not to find an agent is one of constant discussion among actors. However, you never see much discussion over what mindset you should be in when you start your representation search, and that’s unfortunate. Teaming with an agent is a very personal and sometimes frustrating process for an actor, and finding a good agent can be even harder. So you want to be in a good place before you begin.
My philosophy is that it’s always easier to get good work than to get a good agent.
Why? An agent only does 10% of the work once you’ve signed with them, so you have to plan on still managing 90% of your career. Many actors have the sense that once they have an agent, auditions will just start rolling in, but an agent is merely a player on the team in which YOU are the coach. They take their cues from you.
Just like in life, you teach people how you want to be treated by the way in which you treat them. An agent is not a savior. They may have hundreds of clients that they need to find work for, so you have to help them by doing your part and communicating your efforts.
So why not adopt this mindset now, before you sign on the dotted line? I believe that focusing on getting good work is the most important thing you can do to snag a good agent. Book the work and let the agent find you. However, if you’re still debating whether or not you need an agent, here are three questions to ask yourself first to help you decide.
1) ARE YOU ALREADY DOING AT LEAST 90%?
This means going to lots of auditions, getting callbacks, booking jobs, and consciously building strong relationships with casting directors, directors, and other industry folks. If so, then perhaps it’s time to partner with an agent to help you transition to the next level of your career.
2) DO YOU HAVE CASTING DIRECTORS CALLING YOU IN REGULARLY?
If you have 2-3 casting directors that call you in to audition regularly, congratulations! They know and like you, so you’ve done your part building a good relationship with them. An agent may be a next step to strengthening those relationships to turn your efforts into bookings.
3) WHAT KIND OF WORK ARE YOU BOOKING?
Consider the type of work you are getting called back for and/or booking. Is it worth paying someone 10% of your income? If you are booking the work on your own, it may be a good idea to continue to be your own agent and pay yourself that 10%!