Sarah Clark, CSA
If you plan on being a professional actor you need an agent. That’s really all there is to it.
Agents are there to get you in the audition room, handle your business dealings (contracts, billing, etc.) and submit you for jobs you may not have access to. Make sure you remember the following things when you’re choosing an agent:
1. Agents make money on commission or they don’t make money at all.
I can’t tell you how often I talk to actors who have been duped by “agencies” who sign you into their agency for “free”…as long as you buy the $750 classes, get the $400 headshots, and so on and so forth. This is not how legit agencies work. Period.
Agents make money on commission for jobs that you book. You need to figure out what their fee is, it’s usually between 10%-25% depending on who you sign with. If they start asking for money on top of that, your red flags should start popping up.
2. Shop Around
It doesn’t make sense to sign up for a gym, buy a house, or lease a car without shopping around first. The same goes for your agent. You need to see who you fit best with in your market.
Finding the right agent is essential because you have to be able to trust them and have a good business relationship. Make sure you meet with as many as you can before you pull the trigger.
3. Casting Directors should NOT be agents
The two are completely different occupations! A casting director should never be an agent. Here’s why:
- If a CD starts signing on talent that they will “represent” you can be your bottom dollar that all of their casting sessions will be filled with the actors they represent.
- That means all the slots that could have been filled by legit agents are taken away.
It’s sketchy and immoral. Avoid Avoid Avoid!
4. It’s all about trust
When I was an actor, my agents handled my money. I sent my checks straight to them so they could take a commission and then send it straight to me. I trusted my agents - but I still checked my pay stubs just in case.
I’ve gotten too many texts from actors saying, “Sarah…um…it said it was a 15% agency fee but I didn’t get the right amount…?” So far, it’s only been sketchy agents and not an issue with the accounting department. Please make sure you trust your agents. It’s SO important.
5. Keep Hustling
This is the most important! Once you get an agent, keep hustling and then hustle harder!
You can’t just wait around for them to call you or for your big break to fall out of the sky. You should keep pushing for auditions, fill them in on new classes you’ve taken or new skills you’ve learned. They will work as hard as you work - if you’re not taking your work seriously they won’t either.
Charles Baker (Breaking Bad’s Skinny Pete) taught an amazing class I was in and he mentioned how hard he hustled even after he got an agent. He was incredibly aggressive it's part of the reason he's successful, ladies and gentleman.
If you want acting to be your job, treat it like a job and work at it.