What is a Talent Agent?
Everything you need to know about talent agents
(Photo: Rodnae Productions | Pexels)
A talent agent is a person who helps actors, models, musicians and other artists and talent find jobs in their profession. An agent works on behalf of the talent to negotiate contracts and to conduct other business dealings.
Actors don’t always need a talent agent in order to work as an actor. That’s especially true for actors who live in smaller markets outside of Hollywood or New York. But even in larger markets, actors can still find work on their own, without agents. Actors can submit their talent profiles on casting sites and find work in all areas, such as commercials, independent films, short films, web series and student films.
Still, having an agent, while not always necessary, can be helpful and, in some cases, essential. That’s because casting directors often turn to talent agents to find actors for well-paying roles. Having an agent gives an actor the ability to be considered for opportunities that may not be made known or available to the public.
What Does a Talent Agent Do?
A talent agent engages in a variety of activities on behalf of their clients. Those activities include:
- A talent agent helps actors secure auditions that could lead to acting work.
- A talent agent helps to negotiate contracts on behalf of an actor.
- A talent agent ensures that the actor gets proper compensation when a job is completed.
- A talent agent can also dispense career advice and help guide an actor’s career.
How Do I Get a Talent Agent?
There are a number of different ways to find an agent. Actors can look in industry guides, or even the phone book, to find talent agencies in their area. Perhaps the best way to ensure you find a reputable talent agent is to review the list of agencies on union websites.
Once you have found a reputable talent agency in your area, you can contact them by sending a headshot of yourself, an acting résumé that lists all of your prior acting work, and a cover letter introducing yourself.
Finding A Franchised Agent
A franchised agent is an agent that is affiliated with one of the various actor unions. For this reason, franchised agents are considered the most reputable. Actors can find franchised agents by requesting a listing of agents from the various actor unions or simply by going onto the union’s website.
What is the Difference Between a Talent Agent and a Talent Manager?
The most significant difference between a talent agent and a talent manager has to do with their area of emphasis. Generally speaking, a talent agent focuses on employment. Their primary job is to submit you for available acting jobs, help you secure work in the entertainment business and negotiate contracts.
Though an agent might help an actor find the tools they need to succeed, such as acting classes and headshot photographers, for the most part, agents normally take a more hands-off approach to an actor’s overall career, outside of finding an actor lucrative employment.
While a talent manager is, likewise, concerned about an actor’s employment, they take a much broader view. Their focus is on guiding an actor’s overall career trajectory.
Talent managers take a very hands-on approach to all areas of an actor’s career, and sometimes, even their personal lives. A manager is going to make sure an actor secures things like marketable headshots, a reputable talent agent or an effective demo reel. A talent manager is more concerned about where an actor’s career is going to be in a few years; whereas a talent agent is more interested in where an actor’s career is right now.
What Should I Expect at a Talent Agent Meeting?
(Photo: Christina Morillo/Pexels)
The process is simple. First, I always meet one-on-one with potential clients. This gives me a chance to really get to know the person.
If that goes well, I ask the actor to come back and meet the other agents. It’s essential that everyone be in agreement. One agent should never try to convince the others to sign someone.
And that’s basically it. The only problem is actors tend to be their own worst enemy. Believe it or not, actors seeking representation are always convincing me NOT to sign them. Pretty depressing, right?
I’m always amazed by how much effort actors put into getting a meeting with me but none of you ever know how to behave once you’re actually in my office.
Before we tackle this subject, let’s make something clear. I want to like you. It’s my job to sign actors and if you’re sitting in my office, that means you did something right.