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How to get Signed by an Acting Agent

I got signed to an agent the first year of acting. The more I work in the industry, the more I realize that the phrase work smarter not harder applies on all levels of my career. Let's get into it. To give a bit of context, I used to work as an account executive at a marketing agency. I was the direct line of contact between the internal creative team and the client looking for our services. Before that I worked in a lot of sales positions that enabled me to step in front of someone and try to convince them to purchase whatever service or product the company was selling. Now most of the time, these companies I worked for had their own business model where I'd have to adapt to their business model. Generating leads is the biggest thing I learned in the marketing and sales industry. In the entertainment industry, they simply refer to it as networking. People you know has a huge impact on your success, where you go, and allows you to follow a direction that's more organized in your day-to-day.

If you're an actor, the chances of you wanting to get in front of the right people is highly likely. Hence the whole audition process. I started my acting career in 2020, during the heat of the pandemic, and dabbled in MV's, influencer marketing, UGC content, commercials, and independent TV/Film productions. Actors who work in the industry should know of the typical casting sites to self-submit through such as Casting Networks, Backstage, Actors Access, Mandy, the list goes on. But there comes a point in your career where you want bigger opportunities. Some of which are union jobs where you start getting paid the big bucks. What we're creating is a business structure, a strategy to get your face in front of the right people, brands/companies, and hopefully it takes off and hits a major streaming network or as everyone hopes, the big screen!

After leveraging the skills, I used in school, internships, and working full-time. Marketing has given the best chance to get my name and face out there. Here are some of the strategies I used in my acting career that helped me to land huge commercial roles: CVS/WebMD, Adidas, Sune, and Adorama. I'm still very new to the game but that didn't stop me from reaching out to Agents, Casting Directors, and managers. I continue to self-submit myself, but these agents were able to send me auditions to opportunities that were unavailable to me on casting sites. Some auditions like Google, Verizon, Doritos, you get the gist. I mostly focused on commercial brands because I have yet to gain the credibility within the TV/Film space. However, this strategy will work for you if you have a solid foundation already. What I mean by "foundation" is that you already possess the essentials in your portfolio: professional headshots, resume, a TV/Film OR commercial reel, and additional special skills that help you stand out. Skills like creating content on social media, playing a musical instrument, excelling at any sport, host experience, voiceover, and more.

I leverage LinkedIn and Up-to-date (UTD) Actor as my prime resources. Both platforms are free to sign up but there are limitations through your search without premium *of course.* You develop a sense of understanding around each after site as you dip your toe into the professional world. I learned this method generating leads for a sales software company I used to intern for. So the process is simple, pull as many emails as possible. You can subscribe to Up-To-Date actor but most of the agencies in that database rarely give their personal email. I want to get my materials to the face of the agency. The one who calls the shots. In UTD select the dropdown tab that shows agencies. There it is! The list of the ALL the agencies you ever heard of, never heard of, want to know of.

Start anywhere you'd like, but always keep an excel spreadsheet of the leads you generate. I can expand on some software tools that might help make this step easier but typing them allows me to get familiar and feel personally connected to each agency. When you click on an agency you'll find that it states the names of representatives. Points of contact for each agency. List the agents name, their email, agency name, casting type they are looking for, location, and another other key findings. Email each separate agent. When you can't find an email listed under the agent, download any extension that will pull their email from LinkedIn. Extensions like Lusha and Contact Out have free trials and allow you to find emails to contacts in LinkedIn without connecting/following the person. Copy these emails onto your excel sheet. Google is your best friend. If you can't find them on LinkedIn, type their full name into Google and try to extract their email from any platform they might have a profile on. I found this method successful in my journey to finding agents. I am now signed to two agents, one for TV/Film and another for commercial. I was even able to sign with my current Manager who has helped me negotiate and sign a commercial contract for the past 6 months. A consistent job where I am currently working. This is only scratching the surface on the potential of finding representation.

Draft up a template email. Listing your work: socials, resume, headshots, and links (portfolio on your website, profile on casting sites). [If you don't have any of the materials that I mentioned, it might be a key indicator that you need to develop your foundation first].

The last thing you want to do is submit yourself to an agency without looking the part. Professional is how you want to come across. As much as our day-to-day seems to come together last minute. You want to show that you have experience being on set and know how to nagivate yourself around key players in the industry. I can definitely write a future post that further explains what that might entail but this post is for those who have an objective to turn acting into a full-time career.

PUT IN THE WORK! Blast those emails. I used to send 10 emails a day. That was my goal because I wanted it. Acting is not something you just decide to do on the side. Tell them a bit about yourself, what makes you different from other actors in the field, and how you want to progress in your acting career. Build rapport at first, generate trust between you and your potential agent, and ask to schedule a meeting where you can decide if the agent will be a good fit for you. That's the biggest thing. Meeting with agencies is as much as an interview for you as it is for them.

All in all, finding an agent suitable for you is as much a journey as auditioning for a role. Since most auditions are submitted through self-tapes, I strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself around these resources and platforms in order to develop your network. Step into a new territory and find methods that might work better for you. Don't forget to support your fellow actor friends and remember that it's this is a crafted specialization that requires time and commitment. Those overnight success stories you hear are ultimately chances that occur out of your control. I urge you to emphasize the work that you have control over and start implementing a strategy around your acting business. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me!

x Esther Hong


Esther Hong Headshot 2.jpeg

New York City bound full-time Actor here to give you insights into the industry, connect with likeminded creatives,

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