This question seems to come up often. Especially since I've been working promotions. Most promotional models want to get into acting, commercials and print, but are unsure how. Really, anyone who works a freelance, independent contractor lifestyle interested in acting, should pursue an agent. It's a great way to add an extra source of income, plus it's really fun!
The level of agency and potential to work have a great deal to do with where you live. If you are in a small town, there might not be an agency or the local agency is not worth your time. My current city, Tucson is an example of this. I wrote about it here in another post.
On the other hand, most larger cities have talent agents. You might not become an A-Lister movie star, but you can absolutely work in television in many markets. Atlanta, for example has several reputable agencies (People Store is my personal favorite!). Regardless, I also know of great agents in Charlotte, Nashville, Birmingham, Orlando and even Greenville, SC.
First of all, make sure the agency is legit. NEVER pay an agent upfront. NEVER. An agent gets paid when you get paid. Depending on the job, union or non-union, the agency will take between 10-20% of your earnings per job. This is well worth it, because most jobs you would not know about without the agents help. They have to be paid, but not until you work, got it?
A great place to find an agent is the Screen Actors Guild Website. If an agency is affiliated with SAG, then you have a good chance of avoiding a scam in the industry. The website has a menu by state and will list the agencies in your area. Make sure to check both Franchised Agents and Non-Franchised Agents.
The submission process may vary from agency to agency, so check each agencies website for details. More than likely, you will email or mail a headshot and acting resume with a short letter inquiring about representation. If you don't have a headshot, then send a snapshot from the shoulders up. If you don't have an acting resume, think about your experience. Have you taken an acting class? Worked a promotion? Been an extra? Anything, anything that might cross over to acting. If not, explain why you could be a great actor!
Agencies receive many submissions and if they are interested, the will contact you for an interview. Follow up with a phone call or email, but don't over do it. If 3 months go by with no response, submit again. And try to build your resume in the meantime.
If the agency does call for an interview, congratulations! Bring a copy of your headshot and resume with you. Also, be prepared for a cold read. The agent may give you a short script to read while you are there.
Like a said before, you won't pay an agent to be represented, but there could be some cost involved. The agency might want you to have an updated headshot and give you a list of approved photographers. An acting class with a local company may be suggested (not a class that's associated with the agency!). Also, you will need to print out several 8x10 color photographs to take with you on auditions (remember to save all of your receipts for tax write offs!)
One more thing, pay attention to any paperwork you are asked to sign. Find out if the agency is exclusive or non-exclusive, meaning can you only be represented by this agency or more than one? Personally, I don't like to be represented by more than one agency in a market, but regardless, you need to know the agencies rules and regulations.
If you are interested in acting, I highly recommend finding an agent to represent you. Agents are well connected and will find jobs that no one can find on their own. Plus, they deal with setting your rate and making sure you are paid fairly for your time and usage.
If you have any additional questions about find an agent, please feel free to contact me - greercarlson (at) gmail (dot) com
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