What Is A Talent Agent?

Wendy Alane Wright

Wendy Alane Wright

WHAT IS A TALENT AGENT ?

A Talent Agent works for a licensed Talent Agency where they use their contacts to arrange auditions for the actors represented by the Agency. They are a very important piece of the puzzle to your career. A Talent Agent is able to provide you with huge TV and Film auditions you would not otherwise know about.

WHAT DO AGENTS DO?

Agents get their clients auditions, negotiate contracts and close deals. 

An Agent spends the day looking through the online list of available acting roles called “The Breakdowns.”  When they see a role you are right for, they will submit your headshot, resume and demo clip/reel to casting directors. Agents also get on the phone and call casting directly to highly suggest you for the job. That is called “pitching” a client.

When casting offers you an audition, your Agent will let you know the day, time and location of the audition and email you the audition materials, called sides. Sides are the part of the script that you will be auditioning with.

If casting likes your work in the audition and you fit the role, they will offer you a Callback or Producer’s session and your Agent will let you know when your 2nd and 3rd auditions for the project are. If you book the job your Agent will collect important information from you and pass it on to the Casting Office to close the deal.

When closing the deal, the Agent’s job is to negotiate the highest possible rate they can get for you on the project. They negotiate for higher amounts of money, where you will stay if the project shoots on location, will they pay for your cell service, will you receive money per day to live on (Per Diem), will you have your own room on location? etc., This can take a few hours/days to close a deal as the Agent and Casting office go back and forth to see what the project’s production company will allow.

Agents look for projects for all of their clients. They go through The Breakdowns and they also read tons of scripts to see if there is a role in it that you would be right for.

The more acting auditions you go on, the better chances you’ll have of getting a part! So an Agents number #1 job is to get their clients as many auditions as they can. 

IS A SMALLER OR BIGGER AGENT RIGHT FOR ME?

You can build AMAZING careers with some of the smaller, lower level agencies. Jack Nicholson has had one Agent his entire career Sandy Bressler. It hasn’t hurt his career one bit!

The quality of the Agent is the most important thing. If you have a hard working Agent who really believes in you they can open all kinds of doors for you. They also have great relationships with casting offices just like the bigger Agencies do. In fact, smaller boutique Agencies can get you HUGE auditions for Series Regular TV roles and roles in blockbuster Feature Films like “Marvel” the same way bigger agencies do.

Signing too soon with an “A” Agency can have it’s drawbacks.


CAN I SIGN WITH AN A LEVEL AGENCY?

The Big 5 “A” Level Agencies are CAA, William Morris Endeavor, UTA, Paradigm and ICM. They handle the world’s biggest stars. 

99% of new actors are not even considered by these companies. Most actors starting their careers seek representation from Agents on the B and C levels.  It is very well possible that one day of these Agents will reach out to you when you reach a certain level in your career. Of course, you’d have to be out there in film or television doing something notable in order for these Agents to approach you.

Here is what the former Head of a Major Studio and now Talent Manager has to say about “A” level Agents vs “B or C” level Agents: “When actors are young they are intrigued by the name, big building and their egos get stroked by potentially being sought after by a Big 5 Agency. But my job is to let them understand that sometimes they will get lost at the big Agencies and that at this level in their early career, it does not serve them.  

THE BENEFITS OF AN “A” LEVEL AGENCY 

The bigger “A” list Agencies have a huge “packaging system” that packages the Directors, Writers and Stars together in a project and sometimes that gives some of their newer actors bigger opportunities.  They may say, If you want Tom Cruise for your project you will also have to take this Director and these actors. That’s the benefit packaging and the clout that comes with it. The Big 5 Agencies can open almost any door and the relationships they have with Producers and Directors and Writers are massive since they represent most of them in Hollywood. 

The downside is sometimes the Big 5 Agencies just sign newer actors to keep them from competing with their own working clients. It’s called “being shelved.”

If an Agent has a young movie star on their hands, and people have real reason to believe that they could be the next Halle Barry or Ryan Reynolds, then when the time is right, a lower level “B” or “C’ Talent Agent like Cindy Osbrink or Judy Savage will walk them into an APA or CAA or Paradigm and they become the “mother agent.”  The companies then partner on representing the actor.

HOW MANY CLIENTS DOES AN AGENT HAVE?

Agencies play a numbers game and money is the sole objective. The more clients they have the more opportunities clients have to book and make the Agency money. Therefore, some Talent Agencies will have 500 to thousands of clients. Commercial Agencies usually have far more clients than TV/Film Agencies. 

CAN ACTORS HAVE MORE THAN ONE AGENT?

You may have several agents working for you on your behalf.


1) Talent Agent for Film and Television 

2) Commercial Agent for Commercials and Print work 3) Voice Over agent

4) Literary Agent

5) Modeling Agent

Actors can also have agents in different markets. For example you can have local Agents in your home state covering that region of the country and have Agents in the larger markets.  If your hometown Agent gets you a job, your Agent(s) in the larger markets do not earn commission and vise versa.

UPFRONT FEES

You should NEVER pay a Talent Agent or Agency up front for auditions or representation. A legitimate Talent Agent ONLY gets paid when their client books a job from an audition the agent has arranged.  Legit Talent Agencies do not charges fees for representation, EVER.

HOW MUCH COMMISSION WILL MY AGENT EARN?

Agents typically earn a 10% commission on jobs you book. For non-union commercials they can earn 20%.

HOW EASY IS IT TO GET AN AGENT?

It’s very competitive and Agents receive thousands of submissions. 95% of actor submissions are simply not up to the level Agents require. New actors typically do not know how to present strong enough packages.
 
Some of the main problems are their resumes are not formatted incorrectly, their Demo Reels are amateuristic and their headshots do not represent the actor’s type. SO these submissions are just tossed in the trash.
 
Actors have to learn how create a great package that Agents have a hard time refusing! It takes strategy and experience to get an Agent. In my Online Course The Hollywood Winners Circle Master Course we have taught thousands of actors how to Get An Agent.
 

PLUS…

➡️ How To Discover Your type 

➡️ Secret to Creating Headshots That Pop!

➡️ Secrets to Creating Acting Clips That Impress Agents

➡️ How To Correctly Format Your Resume

➡️ Write Cover Letters That Get You Meetings

➡️ How To Find More Auditions On Your Own

➡️ How To Meet Casting Directors

➡️ How To Book More jobs

➡️ How to Discover Your Brand

➡️ How To Market Yourself on Social Media To Get More Auditions.

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