Respectfully Parting Ways With Your Agent
There may come a time when you need to make the hard decision to leave your agent. Whilst it's never easy, here's how to approach the situation with professionalism and respect.
An anonymous performer writes about their experience.
Changing agents may seem like a daunting prospect for any actor. There are many things to consider, from simply knowing if it’s the right decision, to the process of finding new representation. Having recently gone through the process myself, I’d like to offer my advice by breaking down the steps for how to go about changing your agent if you feel it's the right thing for you to do.
Remember [agents] are humans too, so be polite and above all professional. Never just remove them from your profile without first having a proper conversation.
Knowing When to Leave Your agent
Changing agents isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. We can all be quick to judge when we feel there are not enough auditions or we are not progressing as quickly as we’d like. It’s easy to just lay the blame with your agent so here are a few things you should ask yourself before you make any big decisions:
1. Do you feel like you have an open dialogue with your agent?
Is there something you aren’t happy with that you can discuss? Having an open relationship with your agent is incredibly beneficial to feeling in control of your career. If you feel that you can’t speak freely to your current agent, then this is something to keep at the forefront of your mind when meeting with prospective new agents.
2. How many clients do they have?
An agent with a large client list, especially one that may also include high profile clients, have a lot on their plate. It's always good to consider if you and your agent are on the same page about the type of jobs you want to go up for and whether there is anyone else in the agency that may be going up for similar roles.
If you are auditioning for the jobs you want, and you feel you are auditioning regularly, then that’s great! If not then you may feel you would benefit from being with a smaller or different agency.
3. Do you play to their strengths?
If you aren’t getting many auditions, it is worth considering what your agency’s strengths are. If you know that your agent specialises in musical theatre but you want to do film work, would the casting directors you want to be seen by think to get in touch with your agent?
In my opinion, these are the key things to take into account before thinking about changing representation. Trust your gut. Moving agents is not an easy task, and it’s important not to make snap decisions and blame our agents when we feel like things aren’t going our way.
Approaching Other Agents
So, you’ve made the decision to change agents, what next?
There is no linear route to getting new representation. It’s important not to get bogged down by this process if you don’t meet with success immediately. You are a talented individual with a wealth of experience behind you - remember that!
When looking for new representation there were a few methods I found to be successful when emailing:
1. Do your research
You might have an agent already in mind that you want to approach, or you may have no idea where to start looking. Spotlight Contacts is a good place to start looking at all the agencies out there.
Look into the actors that are doing work you like, who are they represented by? Do their agents have anyone like you on their books? What are the backgrounds of the individual agents, and how could their experience benefit you? Doing research is extremely beneficial when approaching agents for representation as it will help you tailor your initial contact email to unique and on point.
2. Email as an equal
Once you see yourself as an equal in a relationship with your agent, it will change your life. Approaching agents with confidence and telling them all the things you can offer them, rather than just what they can offer you, draws any agent in and will get them excited to work with you.
Keep your email as short and succinct as possible. Include two to three sentences about your most recent and impressive work. Be honest about where you are in your career now, what you can offer, and why you have chosen them.
Avoid sending general emails. Everyone wants to feel special, so do always use their name (spelled properly) and if you can highlight why they are a good match for you, whilst advertising yourself as something they want, then you’ll make your mark.
3. Contact the agents of people you have worked with
If you have recently worked on a job, chat to your fellow castmates about what their agents are like. If you’re comfortable telling them that you would like to contact their agent, then emailing your castmates’ agents is an appropriate thing to do - they may even be up for referring you themselves.
4. Mutual connections
It never hurts to highlight any mutual connections you may have with the person you are emailing. It’s a small industry and drawing their attention to any shared contacts you have is a natural door-opener and will help you stick in their mind.
You should always meet an agent in person and in their registered office.
What to Look for in a New Agent
When looking for an agent there are a list of things I would recommend prioritising. You should always meet an agent in person and in their registered office. After the meeting ask yourself:
- Did they feel approachable? Do you feel like you could have an open dialogue with them, and would you feel comfortable saying no to projects?
- Did they seem excited about you? Did you feel excited about them?
- Did you have the same instincts about the type of projects you want to go up for?
- Do they have other people like you on their books? This is something you can do research on before but you shouldn’t be afraid to ask about this in your meeting. It may turn out that although you may have similar looks, you may be very different actors - if this was the case then an agent would reassure you of this.
Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions in meetings. You are scoping them out just as much as they are, you. Asking questions shows self-assurance and that you know what you want.
Leaving Your Current Agent
Leaving an agent is never a pleasant experience. You are terminating a working relationship however it is important to remember that whilst it is not personal, you should approach the situation as respectfully as you can. At the end of the day you have to trust your gut on what is best for your career, and your agent will hopefully understand that you have to put your career first.
Your leaving does not mean that they are a bad agent, a lot of it is down to logistics; how you fit into the agency as a whole or where you are in your career right now. We all know agents work incredibly hard!
When leaving, let your agent know how grateful you are for all they’ve done for you. People can tell if you are genuine and they will appreciate the kind words despite the potential blow. It won’t be the first time they’ve had this happen but remember they are humans too, so be polite and above all professional. Never just remove them from your profile without first having a proper conversation.
As hard as it may be, make that call. Send them a card, maybe a bottle of something, then move on to the next part of your career and remember to always to be thankful to anyone who pushed you further.
Read more about how to maintain a good working relationship with your agent and don't forget to check out our agents listings in Contacts.
Image by Priscilla du Preez via Unsplash.