How to Get an Acting Agent: Landing Representation in Hollywood
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read

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Getting an agent in Hollywood is critical when searching for work as an actor, especially if you aspire to land cinematic roles. At their best, agents will regularly scour everything from the latest industry trends to hot scripts being passed around in the hopes of pairing the perfect client to the perfect project. They will also spend a lot of time networking with peers and production professionals to catch wind of work that may be best for you.

But it’s not common for folks to know how to get an agent for acting. In fact, it can seem like a daunting prospect. There are, however, several steps you can take to reach this goal. Whether you’re looking at how to get an acting agent without experience or already have solid work under your belt, you can plot your journey towards proper representation.

Responsibilities of an Acting Agent

When considering how to hire an agent, it’s important to understand what their actual responsibilities are. An acting agent is a representative who finds work for actors in films, television, advertisements, videos, and the stage. Employing their network of producers, casting agents, directors, and other key industry professionals, their job is to bring your work to the attention of content producers and seek out roles for your performance. Their first step is to get to know you and your work so that they can properly place you in productions.

How to Find the Right Acting Agent

Before we discuss how to find an agent for acting, we must start by describing the many types of agents out there. Some concentrate on securing leading roles, while others help cast character actors and even voiceover actors. Matching your talents to the right agent is a key element of making an effective connection. Then there are the basics of how to sign up with an acting agency. Several vital steps are needed to cross the finish line and get signed. Follow the steps below, and you’ll find yourself closer to understanding how to get a talent agent.

Step 1: Resumes, Headshots, and Reels

The first step in your acting agent hunt has much in common with any other job search. Market yourself with standard industry tools to introduce yourself to them. Prepare a professional resume with a concise compilation of your acting experience, including names of productions and directors and/or producers. Supplement this with a cover letter that quickly provides a snapshot of who you are.

Coupled with that should be an eye-catching headshot. This can be how to get a casting agent: in many cases, they are thumbing through actors’ photos looking for a “type.” In this way, a headshot provided by a professional photographer can land you an audition opportunity or at least get someone to take a closer look at your resume and cover letter.

Finally, if you have appeared in films or videos, prepare an acting reel. Reels should be about two to three minutes long, edited to flow easily from one scene to the next, and remain compelling throughout. Make sure you’ve got it all up online and provide a link to prospective agents for easy access.

Step 2: Keeping an Eye Out for Scams

You’ve started to figure out how to get an acting agent, which is great. Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous agents who try to take advantage of up-and-coming actors. But there are also standard good business practices that legitimate agents use. Knowing what to keep an eye out for will help you avoid unethical folks in the field. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • A legitimate acting agent works off a percentage of the work they get for you. If you’re ever asked to pay an agent for their services upfront, don’t engage them. You pay them out of the salary you receive from booked work, typically at a 15% rate.
  • Legit agents won’t try to get money out of you through other methods. Required fees for “job lists” are a scam. Don’t go for anybody advertising a pay-per-click site. In fact, effective agents don’t do online advertising. Any agent trying to lock you into paying for your headshot or website for your reel is also scamming you.
  • Seek out professionalism. Established acting agents will have ample IMDB credits and a slick online presence with an up-to-date roster of talent they represent. They should not pressure you to sign contracts without reading them or ask you to do unpaid work on their behalf.

Step 3: How to Find an Acting Agent and How to Make Sure it's the Right One

When you’re just starting out on your quest to sign up with legit acting agencies, you’ll need to narrow your scope to land one that’s the best fit for you. First off, you’ll have to see if they are union-franchised or non-union. If you are a part of a union like SAG or AFTRA, always go with union-franchised as they are safer.

If you’re not unionized, you’ll need to do a little more homework to make sure the non-union agency you’re looking into is an honest player in the field. The Better Business Bureau is a good place to see if they are legit.

While it might be tempting to sign up with an acting agency that has a big name, smaller agencies will make more sense when starting out. Those with under ten agents will be more likely to take a chance on new talent. Another important aspect is geography: don’t waste time with agencies that won’t place you locally.

Before submitting, check out their rosters and make sure they don’t have too many actors who match your type. You don’t need that competition, and neither do they. Finally, think about your focus. Are you primarily a comedic actor? Or perhaps you are pursuing a voiceover career? Lean on your strongest foot and seek out the agencies that work in that area.

Step 4: Making Your Submissions

Now that you’re ready with your presentation package and list of agents you plan to go after, it’s time to hone how you will pitch yourself as an actor. Your main calling card is your cover letter, so make sure each one you send out is personalized. Keep your materials brief: no more than two headshots and three reels. Should you be doing email submissions, keep your subject line short and to the point.

Be sure to make your submissions perfect. There’s always a gatekeeper looking for a reason to say “no,” – so don’t give them one! Spell all names correctly. Follow agency submission guidelines to the letter. Don’t pester with multiple follow-ups and wait a week before checking back. If you have an inside connection to an agency, make sure they give a heads up before you reach out. Be persistent while being patient, and always be respectful. Don’t spend too much time on unresponsive agencies – there are plenty more out there to try for.

Step 5: Landing Yourself an Opportunity

Once you get an opportunity for an interview and audition with an acting agent, it’s time to be prepared for that first meeting. It is here that you will be landing yourself an opportunity to work as an actor. Follow standard interview protocol for the best chance for success: be timely, dress well, answer questions honestly, speak eloquently and be prepared to both talk about yourself and ask questions about the agency.

Because this is acting and not a regular job, you’ll also need to have a few more things at the ready. Be prepared with 2–3 monologues to perform upon request. Should you be so fortunate to be asked to show off your acting chops in the interview, having that in the wings can make all the difference. They may even ask you to read from a script, so again, be ready to act! You may also be asked to provide extra headshots, resumes, or DVD or digital reels, so have all those available as well.

Step 6: Keeping you Acting Agent Relationships Strong

Once you’ve secured an agent, solidify and maintain this relationship. Always be responsive. Don’t wait to return calls, texts, or emails when an agent reaches out to you. Things move fast in the acting business, keep an eye out for communications and get back to your people ASAP. But only communicate during regular business hours – you don’t want to be regarded as a nuisance.

Listen to your agent’s guidance. A good agent has been doing their job for a while. They know where to place you and expect you to follow the plan. Also, keep your resume, headshots, and reels fresh. Stay on top of it all, and your agent will understand you are committed and disciplined – two qualities that make their job a lot easier.

How Much Do Acting Agents Charge?

While some agents’ fees may vary, most will follow the guidelines mentioned earlier. A standard fee of 15% of your earnings from acting is what you can expect. Some agents limit that rate once you hit about $50,000 within twelve months, sometimes scaling back to about 10% if you cross that line annually. Again, there should be zero charges aside from this. Any agent asking for up-front fees or any other kinds of monetary concessions is scamming you.

Can You Land Yourself a Role Without an Acting Agent

While having an acting agent is the ideal way to land a role, it isn’t your only option. Publications like Backstage carry legitimate casting calls for auditions, mostly from independent productions but sometimes for studio productions as well. Online resources like and the Actors Access website can also reveal opportunities. Seek out film schools and find casting calls for student films. Or create your own work, be it a short film, stage play, or workshop, to have another calling card for your work. Visit Daisie’s filmmaking category to learn about acting and how to find acting work.