Usually when actors ask me about how to get an agent, I quickly assess they are not ready for an agent. It has nothing to do with their talent. It has nothing to do with their looks. It has everything to do with their lack of preparation.
Preparation for an agent involves being ready to go on auditions the moment you’re signed. The moment you’re signed. Not a few weeks from then. The moment.
Imagine if some kid wanted to sell you lemonade as you’re walking by on a hot summer day. The cost is just a buck. You say, “yes.” Then lemonade kid says, “ok, it will be ready in an hour.” Would you linger an hour for a cup of lemonade? Probably not.
In this situation, you are the lemonade for sale. You are the product. You are the commodity.
So how do you know if you’re ready to have an agent? You have the skills, the marketing materials, and the professionalism for it. Let’s break down what each element means.
SKILLS: You know how to act. You know how to read. You know how to memorize dialogue. If someone gives you a script, you know what to do with it. You know where to look during an audition. You also know where not to look. You know how to slate. You know how to answer questions about yourself. You know how to work solo and work with a partner. You know how to improvise a scene. You’re enrolled in some ongoing class or regularly attending workshops. You know how to select the proper wardrobe for each audition. You can take redirection in an audition and make new choices.
MARKETING: You have professional headshots. You have a properly-formatted resume. You have created accounts on major casting sites. You have a website or some designated location online where people can see what you’re up to as an actor. You actively market yourself in other places online and in person. You have business cards as an actor.
PROFESSIONALISM: You understand acting as a business. You recognize your role in the actor-agent relationship. You have a sense of what’s going on in your local market and your region. You know how to serve each person in the process. You find ways to say yes to every audition invitation. You carefully read instructions and follow directions. You always come prepared. You always bring headshots and resumes. You find ways to accommodate a last-minute audition request. You have a process for getting a professionally taped film/TV audition. You respond quickly to correspondence from your agent. You can sign in at auditions following expectations. You can show up early or on time. You can be flexible when asked to audition earlier or when asked to wait longer. You know how to report an issue arising at an audition or on set. You take the time to communicate when a personal situation arises that prevents you from honoring a commitment.
Did you notice how much time I spent on professionalism? The word count in that section is higher than you’ll see in Skills or Marketing. If you approach a potential agent keeping the points in that section in mind and communicating them in some way in person or in your submission, you’ll have a far better chance of getting offered representation.
Remember, you’re the lemonade. Cold and sweet on a hot day. Quenching a thirst. Serving a purpose. Creating a relationship. Be the lemonade now. Be it tomorrow. Be it the day your new agent signs you and be it every day following that day.