Agent Hannah Wilkinson answers some of our performer questions on the essentials you need to know for a happy relationship with your agent, and a positive career as an actor!
Hannah Wilkinson of Emptage Hallett came in to offer one to one support for many of our members at our recent Open House. Hannah was kind enough to answer several performer questions here too, in case you missed out on a session! Take a read:
How did you come to work as an agent?
Strangely enough I wanted to be an agent when I was at school. My first job in the entertainment industry was as an assistant at the voiceover agency Earache. Working closely with some of the clients’ acting agents, I was keen to move on and represent actors for every aspect of their work, not just voiceovers. Eventually I moved to Emptage Hallett, where I assisted Michael Emptage, before taking on my own clients four years ago.
Where do you go to find new talent?
Everywhere and anywhere. I really enjoy getting out of London and going to regional shows and workshops to find talented people who otherwise might be missed.
How should people contact an agent if they are seeking representation? Is it better to contact on email, or social media? If email, what should they include?
I prefer email as it’s easier and quicker to process. When emailing I’d recommend keeping it brief and making sure a link to your Spotlight page and showreel are included. If you have any connection to me and the agency, that’s always good to mention but again, be brief. Finally, if an agency has clear instructions of how to submit your material, please follow their guidelines.
Do you like to watch shows that performers invite you to, in order to find new people?
I go to a lot of theatre and it’s a great way to find talented new faces. However, it’s not always possible to get to every show you’re invited to, so I’d always recommend ensuring you have some good, solid taped scenes of yourself/showreel as a backup in case agents can’t get to your show.
Does a performer need their own website?
No, not at all. Personally, I think your Spotlight page is enough. It tells us everything we need to know.
What makes for a good headshot, in your opinion?
Unfortunately, my advice for headshots is going to sound a little vague but just a natural shot of you looking like you, taken by a good photographer is enough. Hopefully, when you find an agent who wants to work with you, they’ll be able to give you more specific advice on headshots and photographers, and they should help you choose which shots to use from your contact sheet.
What do you think makes for the ideal relationship between an agent and a performer?
Honest and open communication, and a respect for each other. I like to think I have a great relationship with all my clients and what I enjoy the most is the feeling that we’re both working together towards a common goal.
Is it ok to call an agent to find out about how an audition has gone, or should performers wait to hear? Will the casting director always let the agent know if it’s a ‘no’?
I think it’s fine to drop your agent a line to ask if there’s been any news. Often there hasn’t been and that’s why we haven’t been in touch yet. Some casting directors don’t always come back to us as a matter of course, so we have to chase them. Having said that, many casting directors do, as well as offering some brief feedback too, which is great.
Are there any key skills/extra things you encourage actors to learn to keep competitive in the industry, between jobs?
I think actors should try and be creative as often as possible. Whether that’s by attending workshops and classes or writing and creating their own work during their down time. Things can move so quickly with auditions and self-tapes, that I think it’s imperative that actors have their accents perfected and self-tape technique on point, so they’re ready to go at the drop of a hat.
What’s the best/most satisfying part of your job?
The final product, whether that be watching your client on stage or seeing them on screen, is very rewarding. Particularly with some of the younger clients, it feels great to have had a hand in them realising their goals.
Any final advice for actors hoping for a long and happy career?
The life of an actor is incredibly unpredictable, regardless of how successful you become. Therefore, I’d encourage any actor to ensure they find fulfilment outside of acting. That way you’ll always feel content and any acting success will be a bonus.
Hannah is an agent at Emptage Hallett, representing actors, writers and casting directors. Originally from Lincoln, she moved to London to study theatre and since graduating has worked for Earache Voices and ARG, before developing her own client list at Emptage Hallett. She’s passionate about discovering talented individuals in unlikely places and making the industry a level playing field for people from all backgrounds.