I like to think of agents as the gatekeepers of the work. While it’s entirely possible to get some jobs in the industry on your own, the bulk of the work goes through an agent. Getting an agent isn’t always easy, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have pretty good luck with seeking representation. The trick is not just getting an agent, but getting the right agent for you.
Most people think that agents work for them and this is true to some extent. After all, good agents only get paid when they book you work, but I like to think of the agent and talent relationship as a partnership. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship – if an agent can submit me for projects and get me auditions, me, as the talent can make sure that I’m marketable. That means that I take time to take acting classes and train, update my headshots, and make myself available for them with auditions and when they contact me.
As I continue to learn the new market that I’m in, there is still a struggle for me to find more opportunities. A larger market has more opportunities, but it also has much more competition for bookings and auditions. I’m multi-listed with a few agents around town and they all work differently. Some have sent me out for projects I didn’t feel I was right for while others haven’t sent me out at all in over 6 months. For any of the bigger projects, you have to audition for them so if I’m going 6 months without an audition, that’s definitely not helping me reach my dreams.
Recently, I read an acting book in which the actor mentioned how he had an agent in Milwaukee. It’s further north of Chicago, but close enough that if booked from there, it’s in driving distance. I found this idea very appealing because Milwaukee is a smaller market than Chicago and with me being a strong actor with a good resume, I might be able to book work there. And who knows, once I add those new credits to my resume, it might lead me to more work here in Chicago!
So a few weeks ago, I submitted my information to an agency in Milwaukee and they called and set up a meeting for me. Joe, the on-camera agent met me with a warm and friendly smile and gave me script for a shoe commercial to read for. After a few minutes, he made me stand in front of the camera and I did it! I remembered some of my acting training from classes about making eye contact with the camera and talking in a conversational tone. My first round was a little shaky since I mispronounced the name of the brand, but my second take was much better.
Joe told me that he and the other agents reviewed tapes within two weeks, but they must have liked something about me because the agency reached out to me in two days and offered me a spot on their roster! I was beyond thrilled because when you’re faced with setbacks or disappointments, it makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you or that you’re not doing something right. But snagging this agent in Milwaukee reminds me that I can achieve success again and things really do take time.
I don’t know if Joe and this agency will be the right “agency” for me, but I have a feeling that they’ll be a good one. And at the very least, I think that they will push me in the right direction of getting more work and that’s exciting. Driving to Milwaukee every other week for a booking or audition probably won’t be fun, but I’m willing to do it if that’s what it takes to get more work.
Some times you have to do more in order to get more and getting this new agent just might be what I needed, after all.