What does an agent do for an actor and how can you achieve representation?

Top Agent Alan Mehdizadeh from Avenue Management explains what an agent’s role is and gives his top tips on how you can secure an agent.

The obvious thing that agent’s do is help you find work! They also deal with contracts when a job offer is made and ensure you’re paid throughout that job.

But that is not all an agent does. At Avenue Management they feel it’s very important to be an ongoing support network, so whether that be supporting client’s with personal life issues, concerns about why they’re notworking or guiding them through the audition process, Alan and his team are there for their clients. Getting an agent is not the easiest thing in the world, getting a good one anyway, so here are some tips and advice on how to get a good agent that is a really good fit for you!

#1 Spotlight Profile

The first thing you need to do is make sure you have a good spotlight profile. Spotlight is a job board, it’s a link that nearly all casting directors and creatives use to release information about upcoming jobs, productions, TV commercials, and television series’. Agents will submit you via Spotlight and casting directors will choose to call you in where appropriate. You need to make sure your headshot is recent and that it really looks like you. It also needs to be of professional, good quality. Do not use a headshot somebody’s taken on a mobile phone or one that has been taken by someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing. It’s important that you have a good headshot because that’s the first thing a casting director is going to see, so if you want to invest in that because you are showing that you’re invested in your career. Make sure that you have all your recent credits in chronological order. If you haven’t got many credits that’s okay, make sure that you put your training information in your profile. Include the years of study, the course details and your skills and abilities. But be honest, don’t say you’re a highly skilled tap dancer if you’ve never tapped! You will get found out and it will be really embarrassing for you and it can be for the agent too. You can also include directors you have worked with and venues you have worked in. The most important thing with spotlight is that it’s honest, accurate and up to date. It’s also great to have some video examples of your work on there, whether that be monologues for self-tapes, videos of you performing a song, playing an instrument or dancing. Make sure you’ve got some sort of video on there that shows what you’re about and gives an idea of your ability. It’s really useful for agents who you are approaching for representation and it’s really useful for casting directors moving forward.

#2 Research Agents

Look for agents that you feel might fit with you, with what you want and the career direction you want to go in. You need to find an agent you feel comfortable with, who’s good at the job, who knows what they’re doing and who understands the industry.  You want representation, which is going to treat you as an individual, not just a thumbnail photo in a sea of thumbnail photos, so look at their client list. If they’ve got numerous clients that look like you that’s one thing, but look at those clients a bit closer do they do the same things as you? Might you do something they don’t? They might do something you don’t but try to make sure you don’t clash with the existing client base too much, if you do it’s not great for the agent and it’s not great for you. Try and find the agency that’s got a gap that you can fill. If you really want to do Film and TV approaching an agent who deals almost exclusively in Theatre or Musical Theatre may not be the best option for you. Likewise, if you really want to concentrate on Musical Theatre maybe don’t look toward an agent that only deals with Film and TV. It might sound obvious, but sometimes the bright lights and flashing signs can be quite appealing so make sure you do your research. On top of that if you know people that are already with the agency there’s absolutely no harm in talking to them and finding out how their experiences have been.

#3 Contacting Agents

So, once you’ve got a list of agents that you would like to approach, you now need to send an introduction to yourself, normally as an email. Keep it fairly brief, don’t write an essay but also don’t make it so brief it doesn’t tell the agent anything about you! Alan receives many requests every week for representation and some of them are almost insulting with how vague they are. He has received letters which say ‘hi I would like representation’ and a name, not even a spotlight link. These just go straight into the bin. That’s not being unkind, if somebody isn’t that invested in their career as they can’t be bothered to even tell the agent about them or why they are contacting that agency, how invested are they going to be in auditions, in the room and in rehearsals. You really want to show how serious you are and how determined and passionate you are, so a brief introduction to yourself, where you trained, what your experience is, what you’d like to do, what your abilities are and why you feel that agency is a good fit for you is good to include. And remember, include your spotlight and any other material you’d like the agent to look at.

#4 Meeting Agents

Hopefully you’ll receive some replies. Some will say ‘I’m really sorry we do not have the space at this time’ and that’s not necessarily a reflection on you in anyway whatsoever, they just don’t have the space or maybe you are too similar to another client. There are a lot of actors, there are a lot of agents and agents will always want to represent people they feel passionately about who are talented, so don’t take it personally and keep trying. When you are successful in getting called in to meet an agent, currently a lot of meetings, if not all are being done by via Skype or Zoom, although it’s always lovely to have a face-to-face personal meeting when possible. Don’t be late! Turn up on time and have some questions to ask the agency. Be confident, don’t be nervous, there’s nothing to be nervous about. If an agency wants to see you that’s because you interest them. If an agent makes you feel intimidated or makes you feel like you’re having to prove yourself that might not be the right representation for you. For every potential client Alan speaks to he knows he would like them to sign with him as much as they would like to sign with him so you should feel comfortable and at ease in these meetings. Make sure you are really clear in your own mind exactly what it is you would like in an agent so that you make sure you get someone who is right for you!

Check out the full interview on our Instagram account.

Are you looking for representation? Check out our affiliated agency Argo Artists!