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How to Get an Acting Agent
Taking the First Step Toward the Oscars
Is your child the next Millie Bobby Brown or Jacob Tremblay? Do you give powerful monologues in the shower each morning? Getting an acting agent is the way most actors book work and advance their careers. Whether you're hoping to find an agent for yourself or for your child, know that not everyone who attempts an acting career is successful, and your chances are better if you live in a major city. But dreams come true every day, so chase yours by trying to find the perfect agent.
Starting an Acting Career
Becoming an actor is a different journey for everyone. You may have natural talent for performing and get lucky enough to be spotted by a casting director while performing in a community play, or you might spend years auditioning for everything, but never get a lucky break. For most people, taking acting classes is the first step toward starting a career. Classes will help you push yourself, give you a chance to practice working with other actors and directors, and help you build some of the technical skills you need, such as understanding how to find your light while on stage.
Even if you don't want to take classes, it's important to find opportunities to perform. Audition for community productions. Check sites like Backstage that post casting calls (listings of productions that are looking to fill parts) and get professional headshots to hand out at auditions. It's possible to start an acting career on your own, but it's definitely easier when you have an experienced agent to guide you.
Finding an Agent for Yourself or Your Child
Research is the first step in finding a reputable agent. If you have actor friends in your area, ask them to recommend names of good local agents. Use actor websites like Backstage to find listings for agents in your area (it's unlikely an agent will represent you if you live outside of easy driving distance from his or her office). Some agents represent only children or only adults, which others represent all ages. Create a list of your dream agents.
Next, check out those headshots. If it's your child who wants to act and you're just starting the process, you may opt to take his pictures yourself. Good headshots are focused, flattering close-up images. If your child has headshots, but he's already grown or changed noticeably since they were taken, get new ones.
Create a resumé that lists all the acting experience and training that you, or your child, has had. Often, actors print their resumés on the back of their headshots, but creating a separate document makes sense when you're emailing prospective agents. Include any special skills, like the ability to play an instrument or speak multiple languages.
Finally, reach out. Either using email or snail mail (check the agent's website for submission guidelines), send the headshot and resumé along with a brief, personal cover letter that explains what makes you/your child worthy of the agent's representation. Be sure to include contact information.
Finding an agent if you lack experience is tricky. After all, it doesn't make sense for a professional agent to invest time and effort on someone who doesn't have a proven ability to act in front of a crowd. It's less of an issue with a child actor, however, since many kids have little-to-no acting experience. Some actors opt to film themselves performing a monologue or reading a scene with another person and send the video along with a headshot and resumé.
How Do You Get Your Child Into Modeling?
Of course, your child is gorgeous, and you're not the only one who sees it. If you want to get him involved in modeling and he's past the toddler stage, he also needs to have the willingness to pose for pictures and be outgoing enough to enjoy meeting and working with lots of strangers.
Photos are a big deal when it comes to finding a modeling agency. Hire a photographer to do a photo shoot that include a few different settings and outfit changes, or grab your own camera and get some high-quality shots. Research modeling agencies that work with children in your area and check their websites for submission guidelines; some agencies have specific procedures they want prospective clients to follow. Any agent who likes the photos you send should reach out to arrange an in-person meeting.
Be on the lookout for scams, which are all too common in the modeling world. An agent shouldn't ask for any money upfront or be pushy about your committing to them right away. And no reputable agent or photographer will ever ask you to leave your child alone with them.
How Do You Become an Agent?
Maybe you've given up on becoming an actor yourself, or you've decided that the best way for your child to succeed in the acting world is to represent him yourself. Talent agents generally work for agencies. You're unlikely to get any desirable clients if you have no experience and no agency behind you. Polish up your resumé to focus on your people skills and management experience, research the industry, and write an attention-grabbing cover letter. With no agency experience, getting your foot in the door is the first step. Look for front-desk or assistant positions with local agencies, or send your unsolicited application materials to agencies and hope for the best.
Kathryn has been a lifestyle writer for more than a decade. Her work has appeared on USAToday.com and Indeed.com.