What Does An Agent Do For You!!
The Actor's Life
Finding an agent
sometimes seems like the gold at the end of the rainbow. It's not.
Finding an agent is one step along your career path - and remember
an agent is only one part of your team. They're undoubtedly an
important part - but you should never forget that an Agent works for
you - not the other way around.
But that doesn't mean that because they work for you that you don't
have to do any work. Quite the opposite. In fact it is because
they work for you that you have to do more work. You are the
one responsible for your career. Agents are there to help guide you,
help negotiate your contracts, and to help develop your career.
Here are some common Questions and Answers about Agents. Most of
this information comes direct from AFTRA:
What is the difference between a Franchised Agent and a
A "franchised agent" is a person, firm or corporation
that has entered into an agreement with AFTRA under which they agree
to abide by certain rules and conditions when dealing with
performers who work within AFTRA's jurisdiction. In most cities,
AFTRA members are required to deal only with franchised agents for
the purpose of securing and negotiating employment contracts.
How does an agent become franchised?
In order to receive and maintain a franchise from the union the
applicant must demonstrate that the agency is a legitimate business,
registered with the state or city when required, that, among other
things, maintains proper office space, surety bonds and client trust
accounts. The agent must also demonstrate a thorough knowledge of
the entertainment/agency business.
When and how much should I pay my agent?
No franchised agent may charge a higher rate of commission than
10%. In some cases, an agent must negotiate your fee above the
minimum scale, or in other words, "scale plus 10%" in
order to collect commission on a job. This rule may vary according
to the local area in which you work, or the collective bargaining
agreement you are working under.
An agent may only receive a commission when and if you receive
compensation for your employment. Agents may not charge up-front
fees of any kind. They may not require you to attend a specific
school or use a specific photographer as a condition of
representation. If the agent does have some suggestions on these
subjects, you should be supplied with a list of several schools or
What if my Agent wants me to sign a contract?
Franchised agents are required to use only the standard form
contract or a union approved contract when signing clients. Be aware
that an exclusive contract generally means that all work obtained
while the contract is in effect is subject to commission by that
agent. You may obtain a release from the contract under certain
circumstances. All terminations must be in writing.
What is the difference between an Agent and a Manager?
Although both agents and managers function similarly at times, a
simple distinction between the two can be made by observing that
agents negotiate and service employment contracts, while managers
are supposed to engage in career direction (i.e. advising clients on
the presentation of artistic talents, introducing clients to agents
and casting directors, etc..) and the overall management of the
artist's career and business.
In some states, persons who secure employment must be licensed as
talent agents by the city or state in which they are doing business.
There are sometimes exceptions for attorneys, and certain fields of
work are granted exemptions under various state laws (Sound
Recordings in California, for example).
Always do your homework and investigate the reputation of a
manager, talk with other colleagues and check out references. A good
manager should understand your concerns.
Now that I know some of the rules, how do I get an agent?
There are hundreds of talent agents of various types and sizes
out there. Finding the one agent that is right for you is a
formidable task. It involves dedication, persistence and a game
Performers often find agents through friends and fellow performers.
Get involved with activities that will put you in touch with other
performers, such as workshops, membership meetings, casting
showcases and special seminars.
Agents want experience. Get involved in a play or showcase and
send invitations to your targeted agents. Check the trades for
casting calls, and contact casting directors directly.
Tailor your resume to the specific area of representation in which
you are interested (i.e. - If you are looking for a commercial
agent, list your commercial credits first). Always keep your resume
current and remember to include all union affiliations.
Submit appropriate photos. Commercial agents require different
types of photos from theatrical agents. If you have a film or tape
of yourself you may want to submit it either in addition to or in
lieu of a photo. An audio demo should generally not exceed three
Always send your submission to a specific person at the agency.
Indicate in your cover letter that you are seeking representation
and state why you would like to be represented by them. Keep notes
of the agents to whom you submitted your pictures, as well as the
date of submission and any response or comments.
Related Articles and Resources
Getting An Agent In
List of Franchised