I talk to a lot of actors who are trying to get an agent. They think that if they can just break through and get representation, that will catapult their careers to the next level. A trickier dilemma for many mid-career actors is when to seek different representation. There are issues of loyalty at play as well as the fact that many actors do not know how to navigate the process of changing agents. I’ve put together some thoughts on how to decide if it’s time to move on and how to land the new agent who will help build your career. First, the reasons to jump ship:
1. You’re not getting sent out on auditions
Your agent works with you and for you. It should be in your agent’s interest to send you out. If you are never going out, there is some sort of disconnect. Either your agent isn’t working for you or your materials aren’t speaking to the CDs who are casting. Maybe your agent is submitting you for the wrong projects. There can be many reasons why you aren’t getting auditions through your agent, but at the end of the day, your agent is there to connect you with more work so if you aren’t even being seen, there’s a problem. If you aren’t getting sent out, schedule a meeting with your agent (face-to-face) to talk about the kinds of projects he/she is submitting you for. Find out if you’re on the same page about the kinds of auditions you should be getting. Which leads us to….
2. Your agent is never available
The job of a talent agent is difficult and thankless, but you should still be able to schedule an occasional sit down with your agent. At the very least, you should be able to schedule a phone call. Your agent should respond to your messages in a timely fashion. When your agent is incommunicado, it might be time move on.
3. You’re not growing
It’s important that actors continue to grow. The agent who was able to get you in the door for the projects you wanted 5 years ago, may not be able to give you access to the projects you want now. That’s okay. I always say, you never want to be one of your agent’s best known or most experienced clients (unless you’re represented by CAA, WME, UTA, etc) If you’re the most well known client at a small agency, the chances are that your agent isn’t able to get you to the jobs that the other actors at your level have access to. That’s not always the case, your agent may be working tirelessly on behalf of his best client, but if you’re not getting sent out as well (see #1) then it is probably time to consider your other options.
So, now that you’ve decided to see what’s out there, how do you find a new agent? Chances are your last agent found you at a showcase or film festival and now that you’re looking to move out, you might have to approach a new rep on your own.
1. Do your research
Investigate every agency that seems like it might be a good fit. Talk to friends and colleagues about their relationships with their agents. Look at an actor who is your same type who is where you want to be in 3 years. That person’s agent may be an excellent choice for you because she has already guided someone along that same path. Also, it’s important to review any contractual obligations you might have to your agent before moving on. You need to know if this potential break up will cost you.
2. Make sure your materials are on point
A new agent wants to see the best side of you so make sure your headshot, résumé, and reel are up to date. If you haven’t already, start updating your social media accounts and make it clear that you are an involved and active member of the acting community. The same goes for your website, blog, and other pages. An agent is going to investigate you so make sure you’ve got your best materials out there.
3. Get a recommendation
The best way to make yourself known to a new agent is to be recommended by someone that agent knows and respects. The strongest recommendations come from that agent’s clients and casting directors that agent has worked with. Don’t be shy, ask someone who has a connection to that agent AND knows your work to recommend you. It really makes a difference.
4. Strike while the iron is hot
Do you have a film in theatres or at a festival? Are you going to be on TV or in a high profile play? When your work is current and you’ve got a bit of buzz that is the perfect time to engage with an agent.
5. Be the good guy/ girl
Parting can be such sweet sorrow, and actually leaving your agent can be difficult and uncomfortable. Just try to be the bigger person and let your former agent know how grateful you are for everything he did for you. A parting gift and a heart felt card go a long way. You always want to stay on good terms with people in the industry.