Agents and Managers

This is written from a Seattle perspective. While I have spent a bit of time in LA, I know much more about the scene in the pacific northwest. Out of town readers are HIGHLY ENCOURAGED to participate in the discussion.

First, you do not need an agent to be a WORKING actor in the THEATER in Seattle. For more info about finding work in Seattle, read our post Acting in Seattle.

Second, you do not need an agent in Seattle to get cast in films, webisodes, student films, etc. However, having representation will get you access to “higher priority” auditions, some of which will not be accessible if you are not represented.

I don’t know if there are decent MANAGERS in Seattle and if they would be helpful in building your career. To my knowledge, none of my working actor friends in Seattle are using a talent manager.

Now, in LA, not only do I think an agent is necessary to thrive, many people advise that if you are NOT CURRENTLY living in LA, you should do your best to earn your SAG card before moving.

So, “How do I get an agent?” Well, in Seattle, the FIRST thing you can do is send in your headshot and resume along with a cover letter and follow up with a phone call two days after sending to check in. It is also highly advantageous if you know someone represented by said agent who will give you something akin to a referral. If you need help locating an agent in your area, try an internet search. In the Seattle area, reputable agencies include TCM Models and Talent (my agency), Topo Swope Talent, The Actors Group, and Big Fish.

Now, LA is a completely different monster all together. And while I have put out messages to a few friends currently working and acting in LA for their wisdom, I have not yet heard from them and can only offer my limited experience. During my short stint in LA, I studied under Tom Todoroff and was a member of The Actors’ Network. I did have commercial representation with Brand, and did one gig before returning to Seattle which was completely humiliating (this will be explored in a separate blog post). I also had an interview and offer from Zanuck, Passon, and Pace, which I know now was infamous for SCAMMING, and where I never signed.

I also interviewed with a manager while in LA. The interview took place in her “home office.” There were other strange casting calls I experienced in LA, and have heard many horror stories, so please proceed with caution as you navigate the stormy waters of your acting career.

9 thoughts on “Agents and Managers

  1. Geez! I had an interview with MZ 3 years ago (zanucks own agency) and on a trial basis they did nothing for me.. I’ve had interviews and offers but haven’t found someone with the same values. Stick to your goals and morals. That’s what going to help guide you.. At least for me..

  2. If you have a choice, I recommend considering if you would be happier with a “boutique” agency or a larger agency. A boutique agency reps fewer individuals, and knows you well. They’ll screen projects really closely. Other agencies have a huge stable of actors and they send a lot of casting calls out by email or web sites. Both have their advantages-it’s nice if your agency knows you well enough to turn down a project they think you’re not right for so you don’t waste your time. The flip side is that occasionally you can audition for and nail a part that might not have appeared to be in your wheelhouse. For example, I’ve gotten “wife” parts that were originally intended for actresses who read older than me, just because my agency suggested I give it a shot. (Not to open up a can of worms about the actor/actress ageism problem.) Maybe there’s not a lot of choice, but if there is, talk to the agencies you’re considering about the breadth of auditions they send out.

  3. From my experiences being in Los Angeles six months now, it’s all about who you know and what can you do to help them and in turn, them helping you. I was lucky enough to have a producer in Spokane, who I’ve worked with many times, set me up with a casting director down in LA, who almost “shopped” me around to different agencies (because he had a real, genuine soul), until we found one that was a good fit for me. I feel like I definitely got in one of the easier ways. I feel blessed. So that may be a good avenue to take? Possibly talk to some of the people with whom you worked with see if they can make some calls, etc. It’s all about “industry referrals.” Another thing I’ve noticed is that “industry” doesn’t really give a damn if you don’t have credits.. I don’t know how many agents, managers, etc. I’ve emailed, called, went into their offices only to be turned away or left with as much info as I had going into it. It is a rough road and often very discouraging, but if you know what you want, the only thing that’s going to stop it from happening is yourself (and there’s no stopping the mullets!)… I really wish there were a book entitled, “Actors Guide to Successfully Achieving Success, Without Selling Your Soul To A Man.”

    I really enjoyed the post David. And you’re more than welcome to pick my brain, I’ve learned somethings along this road that may be of use. We’ll be in touch my friend!

  4. I haven’t spent time in LA, but I would guess my point would be roughly the same in any market, that point being: Take Charge of Your Own Career.

    People too often get burned in this business because it is one rife with, to use an umbrella term, “opportunists. These can range from the well-meaning but ignorant to the outright scam artists. Do as much as you possibly can to educate yourself at every turn about the work you do. Be endlessly inquisitive and critical (not cynical) about the people and projects that come into your sphere. When you interview with an agent or manager, have points and questions that YOU want to ASK them. How aggressive are they? Will they go after work for their clients or are they simply facilitators of whatever jobs fall into their net? Does their union affiliation coincide with your union needs? Remember, they are working for you, not the other way around. It will be a partnership, of course – meaning both parties need to communicate effectively to share the responsibility of cultivating your career – but it’s YOUR career. Any agent or manager that seems to take no interest in what you bring to the table or gives you the feeling that they’re doing you a favor should be avoided.

    This is easy for me to say now, having gained the advantage of hindsight and experience of over a decade of union membership and agency representation. I remember how at-sea I felt as a younger actor, not knowing which opportunities and relationships were good for me in the long run and which were trap doors. You only really get better at this the longer you stick with it, but it’s so important to make healthy and smart relationships at the outset. Building a peer network you can use as resources and references is essential. Watch and learn from older actors (who GET WORK), not because they are necessarily more talented than you but simply because they can save you from making some of the same mistakes they did. Trust me, they’ll be happy to steer you away from trouble.

    Getting an agent or manager is only one step in the advancement of your career, not a final goal. You will always have to hustle for work, do your own taxes, stay current with your industry and keep yourself safe and sane in this business. What you’re really looking for is an advocate and partner. You’re the boss.

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