How Do You Know If An Agent Is Good?
Every year, thousands of budding actors attempt to take the next step in their career by seeking out a trustworthy, and successful connection to the entertainment industry. Through blind submissions, referrals, tireless networking, and constant attempts at exposure, actors pursue various agencies and individual agents in an effort to find a fit for their professional needs.
Unfortunately, it's important to recognize that most agents aren't simply looking at the potential that your specific talent offers, they're also considering the possible dollar signs that may be flashing over your head. Just as they ask themselves whether you can make them money, you need to ask the same questions, and distinguish the difference between an agent that can help you get into the audition room and expand your horizons, and one that's only interested in what they can do for themselves.
Understand that Your Agent Works for You
Just like how casting directors will require certain information about you — such as acting reels, resumes, and headshots — an agent will focus on working for you, rather than attempting to place you in a generalized talent pool. Part of establishing whether an agent or agency is legitimate is knowing what to expect from them. As an actor, you need auditions to thrive, and those auditions must be for the right roles, suitable for the current phase of your career. If your agent isn't interested in getting to know you and discovering which roles you're best suited for, then they're not right for you.
Put simply, a good agent will really represent you, looking for roles that suit you — not just any general actor. If the agent you meet with shows enthusiasm about seeking out the perfect fit for your talents and outlines a plan for how to pursue new auditions and find opportunities on your behalf, then this is the sort of person you should be signing a contract with. Beware of any agent that provides nothing but general casting calls — this can show refusing to work with you on an independent basis.
Consider Your Agent's Record of Success (in your niche)
Even if you know an agency that represents a well-known or successful actor, it's important to remember that they may not have the right agent for you. Some agents simply work better with particular personalities, or requirements. For instance, your friend who works in commercials may consider their agent to be incredible, but if you're looking for theatre castings, then they might not be able to offer the same level of success to you. Finding a good agent means ensuring that they have success and experience in selling the work that you can offer.
Check out your potential agent's website for information about other clients or previous success stories, then double check to make sure those tales are legitimate. If you know specific casting directors in your niche, ask around and do research to find out whether your potential agent has a good relationship or reputation with those directors. The more respected your agent is, the more you can rely on them to get you good roles.
Is There Pressure to Sign Contracts and Pay for Workshops?
Any agent that pressures you to sign contracts immediately is likely to be more interested in your money than your future career. To avoid scams, only consider agencies that allow you to take the paperwork with you and read it at your leisure. They should encourage you to understand all of the terms and conditions of the contract before urging you to sign it.
In the same vein, many scam talent agencies will prompt you to sign up for various expensive workshops and photoshoots by attempting to convince you that these will accelerate your career. Remember that a true agent or agency will ask for an up-to-date resume and assortment of head and body shots, but they shouldn't force you to pay out for new photographs or classes every month. While they may suggest opportunities, they will not demand them, or constantly list off expensive ways for them to make more money.
How Reputable Are They Online?
Finally, remember to research and build up as much background information as possible about your potential agent. For instance, find out if they have any online reviews, videos, or forums that could give you an insight into their working strategies. Discover whether they're easy to communicate with, honest, and dedicated to their clients, or whether there's evidence that they could be just another scam.
One important thing to look for is whether your agent is franchised — information which you can get from the SAG-AFTRA website. Be sure that the agency you choose is licensed, as they must have a license with your chosen state in order to legally negotiate any acting contracts. In other words, if they don't have the right paperwork legitimizing their business, it's time to look elsewhere.