In major cities across the US, there are hundreds of commercial talent agents. Attaining legitimate representation for commercials is usually rather involved, so it important to choose the agents you wish to target and research them. In major markets, like Los Angeles, buy updated books that list and describe agents and managers (in Los Angeles, these books are sold at Samuel French Bookstore and in New York, at the Drama Book).
• Obtain a list of franchised agents from SAG (Screen Actors Guild (www.sagaftra.org). There are agents who are not SAG-franchised. That does not mean they are not reputable; it's just that those who are members are easier to check out and are accountable to a supervising entity.
• Ask industry pros you know as well as your friends, teachers, relatives, and classmates the following about agents:
1. Whom do they recommend or have heard about with great reputations and who should be avoided?
2. What is the best way to contact them?
3. Is there anyone they know who could help get more information or has an "in"?
• If you belong to a networking group, check with their members and their records.
• Go to the websites of those you are considering and read about the company history and the agents.
• Once you have a short list, check your choices with the Better Business Bureau. Find out if they have had claims filed against them.
SUBMIT TO COMMERCIAL AGENTS
The size and status of the office you should realistically approach is determined by where you are in your career. When starting as an actor, you will find that the small- and medium-sized offices are often more receptive to meeting new talent. But if you do have an "in" at a major agency or just want to try to get with one, definitely pursue it. If your timing, talent and type are right, you could get lucky.
Now that you know the reputable agents you wish to pursue, submit a picture, resume' and cover letter. Don't mail to one at a time and wait for them to contact you. It is also a waste of money to do a mass mailing to every agent in town. I suggest mailing to a select fifteen or twenty agencies. Agents are bombarded with actors soliciting them for representation. You might hear from some within a few weeks. If you don't get any responses, submit to your second choices.
Agents and managers will call you for a meeting if they are interested in what they see in your submission. If you have industry contacts, acting coaches or teachers, or friends who can recommend you to your desired agent(s), I propose you ask your contact if they would advise the agent to expect your submission. If you get minimal or no response after the second round of submissions, shoot new photos, redo your resume and cover letter and then, in a few months, submit again to your first, then second choices. Client rosters often change, making room for an actor who was of no interest just a few weeks earlier.
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