After training at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute and diving into the world of auditions, there will come a time when you start thinking about representation. Finding an agent or manager (or both!) is an important and exciting step for emerging actors. But what is an agent? What is a manager? What is the difference between them and what do they do? And most importantly – how do you get one?
What is an acting agent?
As an actor, your agent is in charge of submitting you for roles. They are the ones helping you get into the audition room, and advocating for you to get the part. Through representation, you’ll be able to audition for larger projects not otherwise listed on breakdown services like Backstage. Once you’ve booked a role, your agent will also help you negotiate your contract and pay. Agents generally earn 10% of the income you receive for roles they have booked for you.
What is a manager?
Unlike agents, managers provide more over-arching career guidance and help you to establish yourself as a brand. They are typically not the ones who submit you to auditions although, as of late, some have more crossover with the services of an agent. Managers can earn 10% – 15% of all the roles you book while signed with them.
How do I find an agent or manager?
Perhaps the most common way of finding agents and managers is through a quick Google search. You will probably come across the biggest and most popular agencies first. You should do your research to see what type of clients they take, if they are taking new clients, and the size of the agency. Some agencies only take a select amount of clients, while others are much larger in size.
If you have an active subscription to Backstage, a platform that allows you to submit for available casting notices in your area and the wider United States, then you have access to all of their resources – including a list of agents and managers. Backstage’s compiled list will provide you with basic information about the agency: where they are located, what kind of talent they represent (theatre actors, film actors, comedians, singers, and so on), and how to contact them. Typically, each listing will also link to the agencies website where you can find their submission policies.
Some agents and managers only accept submissions by mail, meaning you will have to send your headshot, resume and a short introduction in the form of a cover letter to their address. Others prefer email and will provide their contact information on their pages. Others still will allow both forms of communication. And, in the case of some agencies, you won’t be able to send a submission without industry referral. Be sure to carefully review each agency’s requirements and instructions before submitting!
Once you have narrowed down your search to agencies that feel appropriate for your type of work, experience level, and region, you’ll submit and wait to hear back for follow up meetings. Meeting with a prospective agent or manager is an important step. Not only is it your chance to pitch yourself as a brand and full package – someone who will bring them money – you’ll also get to see if the rep is the right fit for you in return.
Remember that finding good representation is a two-way street. You should be looking for an agent who believes in you and your talent, understands your type and the kind of work that you do, and who you feel comfortable trusting with your career. Come prepared with any questions you might have and be ready to put your best foot forward. And, if you’re getting nervous, don’t forget that actors are agents’ and managers’ source of income – they want you to succeed!
After you’ve successfully found an agent or manager, you’ll be on your way to an exciting next chapter in your acting career.