How to find an agent that’s right for you, and what to consider along the way
Finding and signing with an agent can be key to your acting career. Not every performer needs an agent, although if you want to join Spotlight as a young performer member you must be represented by a Spotlight registered agent.
Adult performers on Spotlight can choose to be represented by an agent or be self-represented. If you’re self-representing, we do recommend that you become a member of Equity as they’ll be able to help give you guidance when it comes to contracts, etc.
Whether you approach an agent for representation or they contact you, here are some things to be aware of:
What is the Role of an Agent and Why Do You Need One?
Agents are there to work with you, to get you seen by the right people and to get you as many work opportunities as possible. Professional agents have years of experience, making relationships within the industry and developing their contact list.
Agents are multi-taskers, negotiators, contract experts, mentors, career advisers, marketers and more. They’re with you for the highs when you get that coveted role and also there to support and advise you through the lows. You may work together for years, making them an important part of your performing journey.
Researching Acting Agencies
There are many types of agents and agencies. Finding the right fit for you both is essential, so you want to do some research to make sure you’re clear on what the agency does and where you fit in.
Some things to keep in mind when researching agencies you want to work with:
- Are you looking for an agent who offers you sole representation, or are you looking for an agent in a particular area, e.g modelling, voice over?
- Are they an agent or a personal manager?
- Are they a co-operative agency, where you’ll also be expected to do your part in the office? Is that something you can (or want to) commit to?
- What performers do they work with currently? What work are they getting those they work with, and is this the type of work you’re interested in?
Our Contacts listings are a good starting point when you’re beginning your research. We list hundreds of agencies with information about how to get in touch with them, and you can display the results in order of distance from your location. Some also publish if their lists are open or closed. Please be aware that Spotlight does not endorse any of the listings, so although they’re a good starting point, you should always do further research of your own.
Resources for your research:
- Agents of Young Performers Association (AYPA)
- Personal Managers’ Association (PMA)
- The Co-operative Personal Management Association (CPMA)
- The Agent’s Association (TEAA)
Finding an agent can take time and a lot of research, so remember to keep a spreadsheet of all the agents you contact. If they say their agency books are closed but they will open up again in three or six months, then make a note to contact them again at the appropriate time.
Using Talent Scout on Spotlight
Talent Scout is Spotlight’s feature to support self-represented performers on Spotlight. By opting in to Talent Scout, you can let agents know that you’re seeking representation. Agents will then be able to search through Spotlight members who have opted into Talent Scout, and reach out to them for representation if they’re interested.
When an agent chooses to get in contact, you’ll receive an email from Spotlight. If you hit reply, this will autofill with the agencies contact details and you can communicate with them here. It’s worth always checking your junk and spam as a performer, as occasionally these emails might end up here.
To opt into using Talent Scout on your Spotlight Profile:
- Sign into your Spotlight profile using your registered email address and password.
- Click ‘Manage my Contacts’.
- If you have ‘self-represented’ listed, you’ll see an option to choose if you’re seeking representation, or not.
- Select ‘Seeking representation’.
- This will now appear on your Spotlight profile.
How Do I Write to an Acting Agency?
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to write to the agents you think you’d work well with to help build your career.
Make sure the email you send them is clear, precise and to the point. Make sure you approach them in a professional way, and avoid calling them or sending them a private message on social media unless you know for certain that they’re open to that.
Before you send your email, take the time to check that everything on your Spotlight profile is up-to-date. This is especially important when it comes to headshots and showreel material.
Tips for writing an email to an agent:
- Make sure the subject title of the email is clearly labelled ‘Your Name – Seeking Representation’.
- Include your Spotlight profile link. Don’t send your view pin number – send the actual URL that will take the agent straight to your profile.
- Introduce yourself briefly and highlight any important skills that you think they should be aware of.
- Don’t write a small dissertation to them. Keep the email to the point, insightful, and try to include a personal connection if you can. Does one of their clients work in a show you love? If so, mention it.
- If you include a small headshot in the body of your email, make sure you check your formatting – send the email to your partner, family or friend to check what it looks like.
Agents are extremely busy and sometimes they can’t always respond to your enquiry. They do try their best to respond, but if you don’t hear from them it usually means that it’s a no for now. You can of course send a follow up email, but it’s good etiquette to leave a considerate amount of time before you email again.
What Should I Prepare for a Meeting with an Agent?
The agent has replied to your email and wants to talk to you about representation – great news! That first meeting can take place virtually or in person. If it’s the latter, always make sure you meet in a safe place like their registered office, a café or hotel lobby. Never visit a house or hotel room.
If you’re under 18, it should be your parent or guardian engaging with potential agents and not you. Don’t engage with parties approaching you via social media or in any other way. Speak to your parents or guardian immediately if this happens.
Make sure any virtual meeting request is coming from a professional agent email address, or it tallies up with the one you emailed directly about representation.
At this meeting, you will be asked to prepare an audition piece. Sometimes they will ask you to prepare two – if this is the case, make sure you pick two contrasting pieces which showcase both your acting ability and your versatility
It’s always good practice to have some questions ready for them as well. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Are they members of any professional associations, and if so, which?
- Do they adhere to the Equity Manifesto for Casting?
- How often do they like you to check in with them, or they with you?
- Do they have any sister agencies or links to agents outside the UK?
- Are they a sole agency, i.e. is your contract with them exclusive, meaning you couldn’t sign with any other agencies?
- If you already have another specialist agency for voice or commercial work, how would they coordinate casting submissions, contracts and commission with you?
- What is their commission structure?
Whilst it’s not necessarily a question you want to open your meeting with, you should also know about any break clauses/leaving protocols upfront, so do ask.
First meetings are generally about 30 minutes long. It’s a chance to get to know each other better and to see if you would work well together.
Signing With an Agent: The Legal Stuff
You’ve finished your meeting and come away feeling really positive, but there are still things you should do before committing to a partnership:
- You may have one agent offer, or be fortunate enough to have several. Don’t rush into anything and take your time to think things through.
- Read any contract thoroughly before you sign and get help from your union or a lawyer if you need to.
- Make sure you’re not paying any fees upfront. Fees can only be charged for certain services and under strict conditions.
Using the Spotlight Job Board When You Have an Agent
If you have agency representation on your Spotlight profile, then your ability to respond to a Job Board post is determined by the ‘Client Access’ controls set by your agent(s).
Your agent(s) can choose, on a client-by-client basis, to give you:
- Full access – Suggest yourself directly for roles.
- Nudge – Nudge your agent(s) so they can submit you for a role you think you’re suitable for.
- Read only – View job information, but only your agent(s) can submit you for the role.
The default client access setting is ‘Read Only’. If you gain new representation, you may need to contact your agent to discuss your individual setting with the agency.
If you’re going to continue to submit yourself for work, you want the agent you’ve signed with to set you to full access.
Any Job Board post will also be seen by your agent(s).
How Do I Leave My Agent if it Doesn’t Work Out?
If things don’t work out – and they may not, for numerous reasons – then you may have to make a decision to respectfully part ways with your agent. If things go badly wrong, and you need some advice or support, then there are organisations who may be able to help you:
- If you’re a member of a union such as Equity, then they will have a combination of phone support and online resources.
- Equity members can also report incidences of bullying or harassment via Equity’s dedicated phone number and email.
- Your local Trading Standards office may also be able to help.
- The Spotlight Podcast episode on safety, harassment and bullying in the industry is also useful.