“I’m just starting out (and/or just got my theatre degree)–how do I find an agent?”
The first thing I will say is, you’re asking the wrong question. The first question to ask is, “Am I ready for an agent?” Here are some additional questions that may help you find the answer to that one:
1)Do you have any on-camera performance experience?
2)Do you have any on-camera training?
3)Do you have extensive audition experience? (theatre auditions count)
4)Do you have excellent, well-produced footage for a reel?
If you answered ‘no’ to ANY of these questions, I ask you to reconsider looking for an agent right now. You are putting the cart before the horse. Even if you are able to find an agent and start getting auditions, you risk the possibility of being written off as “green.” As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
“But I played Lady MacBeth and Roxy Hart in the same year! I’m brilliant!” That may be absolutely true. And, in the long run, your theatre training will serve you well in this business. However, I urge you to get your on-camera tools and skills together, and get some on-camera auditioning and performance experience under your belt BEFORE you pursue representation, at least theatrically.*
My advice is to get into an on-camera audition technique class and start auditioning for projects on your own. Get excellent headshots that look like you. Get your Actors Access, LA Casting and Now Casting accounts up and running, and start submitting yourself for projects…anything that you think might be right for that doesn’t seem shady, whether there’s pay or not. This way you get practice auditioning and maybe even some footage for your reel. Keep an audition log (I will write an entry about this at some point, but for now just write down the particulars of the audition as well as your thoughts and feelings about how it went).
At some point when you feel ready, take a commercial audition technique class (mine, Killian McHugh’s,…ask around, there are several good ones). AFTER you’ve taken a good class, have an honest conversation with your teacher about whether or not you’re ready to pursue commercial representation. If you are, then by all means, get those great headshots and pursue commercial representation. Auditioning for commercials will give you some great on-camera audition experience.
Theatrically, give yourself at least 100 auditions. 100 auditions to practice failing and succeeding. 100 auditions to get your feet wet. If you haven’t booked any jobs after that 100 auditions, you are not ready for a theatrical (TV & film) agent. If you booked a few unpaid gigs but still feel awkward and/or nervous before or during those low-stakes auditions, you are not ready for an agent. Go on another 50 auditions and reassess. Rinse and repeat.
As always, this is just my 2 cents.
*In Los Angeles, “Theatrical” refers to TV and film work, not theatre. “Commercial” refers to commercials, industrials, etc.