What does an Actor Agent do?
Actors work hard perfecting their craft, auditioning for roles, and hopefully landing that next big gig. But having a great agent by your side would improve your chances to getting your foot in the door and advancing your acting career. Here’s a closer look at what actors should know about finding the right agent representation.
What Does an Actor’s Agent Do?
An agent acts as the link between an actor and potential employers like movie studios, TV networks, Broadway producers, and advertisers for commercials. They promote their client’s talents and help them land auditions and roles. Some key responsibilities of an actor’s agent include:
- Networking and maintaining relationships with casting directors, producers, directors, and others involved in the hiring process
- Pitching their clients for specific roles or projects they feel would be a good fit
- Negotiating contracts like pay rates, residuals, billing, and other details
- Guiding the actor’s overall career strategy and trajectory
- Handling PR and managing the actor’s public image
A savvy, well-connected agent opens doors and creates opportunities an actor may never have access to on their own.
Tips for Finding an Agent
Research agencies signing actors similar to you. Look at who big names in your niche or “type” are represented by.
Attend industry events where you may interact directly with agents. Seminars, workshops, showcases, and Q&As are great for making connections.
Consider boutique agencies for more personalized attention, especially early in your career. Larger agencies tend to focus on more established names.
Sign with an agent who understands your aspirations and goals and whose past client roster aligns with your hopes.
Weigh factors like commission rates, agency resources, and their connections within your target markets like theater, film, or television.
Top Talent Agencies for Actors
Some of the top agencies representing major acting talents in the U.S. include:
- Creative Artists Agency (CAA)
- William Morris Endeavor (WME)
- United Talent Agency (UTA)
- ICM Partners
- Paradigm Talent Agency
These agencies work with A-list stars and have the connections to get their clients cast in leading roles with major studios. Up-and-coming actors may aim to sign with boutique agencies before working up to the big firms.
What is the Typical Agent Commission?
Most talent agencies will take a 10% commission from their client’s earnings. This rate is agreed upon and negotiated in the actor’s contract with their agent. This means the agent receives 10% of what the actor gets paid for a role.
Some agencies may request a higher percentage, in the 15-20% range, especially for new clients. Others might offer a sliding commission scale, where the percentage decreases as the actor books bigger jobs and earns higher paychecks. This commission-based fee structure means they only get paid when you do, which aligns their interests with yours. The more you make, the more they make, so they’re highly motivated to negotiate the best deals on your behalf.
How Do You Become an Actor’s Agent?
There are a few common routes to becoming a talent agent:
- Start in the mailroom – Many begin as assistants at talent agencies, learning the ropes and making key contacts. After gaining experience, they may be promoted to agent status.
- Transition from acting – Some agents were formerly actors or have entertainment industry experience, giving them insight into an actor’s world.
- Have an eye for talent – Scouting promising new actors and developing their skills is crucial. Some just have an innate ability to spot star potential.
- Earn a business degree – Many agents have backgrounds in areas like marketing, finance, or business management before entering the talent industry.
- Build a client base – It’s possible to strike out on your own as an independent agent once you have the knowledge and a list of clients.
What’s the Difference Between an Agent and Manager?
An agent focuses on finding acting opportunities and negotiating contracts. A manager acts more like a business and career strategist – guiding the actor’s brand, providing advice, and helping them network.
Here are some of the key contrasts:
- Agents represent multiple clients while most managers work exclusively with just a few.
- Managers are heavily involved in developing the actor’s career trajectory. Agents concentrate on day-to-day bookings.
- Agents usually handle contract negotiations. Managers advise and coach the actor on decisions.
- Commission rates differ – 10-20% for agents vs 15-25%+ for managers.
The best scenario is for an actor to have both an agent and manager covering different bases to maximize their success.
TV Shows and Movies About Actor Agents
Several popular shows offer a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of Hollywood talent agents:
- Entourage – Follows fictional agent Ari Gold as he guides the career of actor Vincent Chase.
- Agent Hamilton – Drama series about agents working in talent agency Hamilton Stone.
- Ed – Ed Stevens struggles after being fired from his job as an agent and starting his own agency.
Whether accurately or overly dramatized, these agent portrayals showcase the hustle required to make it in Hollywood.
Finding the right actor’s agent means doing your research, seeking referrals, and ultimately going with someone who “gets” you, your goals, and your artistic passions. Aligning with the right representation can elevate your success as an actor to the next level.