How to Get an Acting Agent: Landing Representation in Hollywood
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read

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Securing a talent agent in Hollywood is a crucial step when building an acting career. This is particularly true for aspiring actors eyeing cinematic roles in the vibrant entertainment business. A dedicated agent actively keeps abreast of the latest industry trends, sifting through new scripts with the aim of aligning their clients with the perfect project. They also invest significant time in networking with peers and production professionals, sourcing opportunities that might be an ideal fit for you.

However, navigating how to get represented by a talent agency can seem daunting, especially for those new to the industry. Nevertheless, there are actionable steps for career development that can bring you closer to landing a potential agent, be it if you're an inexperienced actor wondering how to get started, or an established performer looking to elevate your career. Remember, talent agents can be the catalyst that propels your acting journey to new heights.

Responsibilities of an Acting Agent

In the process of hiring a representative, it's important to understand the distinct roles an agent plays in the entertainment industry compared to a manager. An acting agent is a professional who uses their network of producers, casting agents, directors, and other industry professionals to find actors work in films, television, advertisements, videos, and stage performances.

Unlike a manager, who typically provides career guidance, an agent focuses more on job procurement. This involves making phone calls, sending emails on your behalf, and showcasing your professional headshots and demo reels to their industry contacts. Agents aim to bring your work to the attention of content producers and find suitable roles for you.

Agents will initially familiarize themselves with you and your work, which can include reviews from actor friends, feedback from current clients, and your performance in cold readings. This helps them effectively position you for potential roles. Whether you're considering a larger agency or a boutique one, remember that a competent agent will not only have a valuable email address book but also be skilled at promoting your unique talents to their network.


How to Find the Right Acting Agent

Before we delve into how to find an acting agent, whether it's a commercial agent or someone specialized in casting for voiceovers or freelance work, it's crucial to comprehend the variety of talent agents available. Some focus on securing leading roles, transforming newcomers into award-winning actors, while others specialize in casting character actors or child actors. The key aspect of making an effective connection is aligning your acting resume and talents with the right agent, be it in boutique or franchised agencies.

There are essential steps to signing up with an acting agency, whether it's a franchised or non-franchised agent. These steps may involve talent auditions, reaching out to direct clients, and even refining your skills with acting coaches. In this complex field, casting resources can prove invaluable. By following the steps outlined below, you'll find yourself advancing towards understanding how to secure licensed talent agents and taking a substantial leap in your acting career.

Step 1: Resumes, Headshots, and Reels

Embarking on the quest for an acting agent, especially for inexperienced actors, shares similarities with any other job hunt. You need to market yourself using standard industry tools. Begin with a professional resume that succinctly compiles your acting experience, including names of productions, directors and/or producers, showcasing your acting skills. Pair this with a cover letter that offers a quick snapshot of who you are.

Complement these documents with an eye-catching headshot. This could be your key to catching a casting agent's eye as they often thumb through actors' photos in search of a particular "type." A professionally taken headshot can land you an audition opportunity or at least spark interest in your resume and cover letter.

If you've appeared in films or videos, prepare demo reels. These reels should ideally be about two to three minutes long, edited to smoothly transition from one scene to the next, and should remain compelling throughout. Ensure all of this - your resume, cover letter, headshot, and demo reels - are easily accessible online and provide a link for prospective legit agents.


Finally, don't underestimate the power of a strong social media presence and the potential to connect with fellow actors. It's another platform to showcase your talent and network within the industry.

Step 2: Keeping an Eye Out for Scams

Congratulations on initiating your journey to securing an acting agent. Regrettably, in your quest, you may encounter scam artists disguised as agents who try to exploit rising actors. But, there are also standard business practices used by legitimate agents at franchised talent agencies. Awareness of what to look out for can help you evade unethical individuals in the field. Here are a few pointers:

  • A legitimate acting agent earns from a percentage of the work they secure for you. If a prospective agent demands upfront payment for their services, steer clear. Legit agents are paid out of the salary you receive from booked work, typically at a 15% rate.
  • Watch out for those trying to extract money through other means. For instance, fees for 'job lists' are a typical scam. Stay away from any pay-per-click sites or anyone insisting you pay for your headshot or website for your reel. Effective agents, particularly those from a list of agencies you trust, don't resort to such online advertising tactics.
  • Professionalism is paramount. Established acting agents will have numerous IMDB credits, an up-to-date list of talent they represent, and a polished online presence. They should never pressure you into signing contracts without thorough reading or urge you to perform unpaid work on their behalf.
  • Before reaching out to an agent, prepare a list of questions critical to understanding how they operate. Cross-check them with a list of union-approved franchised agencies to ensure their legitimacy. By doing this, you safeguard your interests while advancing your acting career.

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

As you embark on your journey to align with major agencies and legit acting agencies, narrowing your scope to find the best fit for your career goals is paramount. One of the first decisions you'll face is whether to target union-franchised agents like those affiliated with SAG or AFTRA or to consider non-union agents. If you're a union member, sticking with union-franchised agents is a safer bet. Major agencies like United Talent Agency and others usually comply with these standards.

If you're not unionized, you'll need to conduct more thorough research to verify the legitimacy of non-union agencies. Tools like the Better Business Bureau can be a helpful resource for this.

While it may be tempting to gravitate towards big-name, award-winning agencies, starting with smaller ones, particularly those with under ten talent agents or managers, can be more beneficial when you're just starting. Such agencies are more likely to take a chance on fresh talent, even inexperienced actors, and book auditions for them. Another important consideration is geography; it's not productive to engage with agencies that won't place you locally.

Before submitting to an agency, review their rosters and client lists to ensure they don't already represent too many actors who fit your profile. Competition can be fierce on a daily basis, and it's in your best interest to stand out. Be aware of existing contracts and their networks of contacts. Finally, consider your focus - are you primarily a comedic actor, or are you aiming for a career in voiceover? Leverage your strengths and seek out agencies that specialize in your area, whether it's a commercial agent, theatrical agents, or something else.

As a crucial step, prepare a list of critical questions for potential agents or managers, which you'll need to have at the ready when you meet with them. Also, take acting classes regularly to improve your skills and marketability. Remember, a well-curated list of talent agencies and the support of a good advertising agency can help expedite your search for the right representation.

Step 4: Making Your Submissions

With your presentation package and a list of agents ready, it's time to perfect your pitch as an actor. Your primary calling card is your personalized cover letter, so ensure each one is tailored to the agent you're reaching out to. Stick to a maximum of two headshots and three reels to keep your materials concise. If you're submitting via email, use a short and impactful subject line.

Strive for perfection in your submissions. Remember, gatekeepers often search for reasons to say "no," so avoid providing them any. Spell all names correctly and adhere strictly to agency submission guidelines. Be patient and refrain from pestering with multiple follow-ups; allow a week before checking back. If you have a connection within an agency, ensure they give a heads-up before you reach out.

Stay persistent yet patient, and always respectful. If certain agencies don't respond, don't dwell on them too long; there are plenty of others, including the biggest agencies, to approach. Look out for future articles and agent workshops for more insights and don't forget to network with casting directors, as they can also be valuable connections in your acting journey.

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.

 Landing Opportunity

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

Securing a talent agent is an essential milestone in your acting career. Once you've achieved this step, particularly in the dynamic entertainment industry, it's critical to not just establish but also nurture this relationship over time. A strong rapport with your agent can make a significant difference in the trajectory of your career.

One key aspect of this relationship is maintaining open lines of communication. Always be responsive to your agent's outreach. The acting business operates at a fast pace, with opportunities appearing and disappearing rapidly. So, when an agent reaches out to you via calls, texts, or emails, make sure to respond promptly. This not only ensures you don't miss out on potential roles but also conveys your commitment and professionalism.

However, it's equally important to respect boundaries and communicate during regular business hours. Constant communication at inappropriate times can potentially strain your relationship and may cast you in a negative light, something you'd want to avoid.

Listening and trusting your agent's guidance is another vital aspect. Understand the dynamics of agent vs. manager: while a manager may be involved in shaping your broader career path, your agent's focus is on finding you the right job opportunities. An experienced agent will have extensive knowledge of the industry and will know where to place you. They've crafted a specific plan based on your skills and career choice, and they expect you to follow it.

How Much Do Acting Agents Charge?

While fees can vary among agents, including those from the biggest agencies, most will adhere to the guidelines previously mentioned. A standard fee of 15% of your acting earnings is generally the norm. Some agents might adjust this rate once you hit about $50,000 within a twelve-month period, potentially reducing it to about 10% annually once you cross that threshold. Remember, this should be the only fee involved in the representation agreement. Any agent demanding upfront payments or other monetary contributions is attempting to scam you.

Being represented by an agent also means you're likely to be pitched to clients for auditions, an integral part of the entertainment business. This is another aspect to consider when evaluating the benefits of securing an agent.

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.

Role Without an Acting Agent
Role Without an Acting Agent