A talent agent can open up doors for actors and get them auditions and reservations that the huge majority of people never hear about.
Do not believe me?
Ethan was a teen celebrity who’d signed up for an on-camera acting workshop I was teaching. He had some theatrical experience but had not done any on-camera acting before. However he was really talented and enthusiastic, and after the workshop, I encouraged him to meet with me in the talent agency I worked at to discuss representation.
This teen celebrity with hardly any experience in front of a camera got booked on a major cable network TV series because he found the ideal agent.
Can you imagine the auditions and bookings you would have access to if you signed with the ideal agency?
It all begins with finding a excellent agent to represent you.
Where do you find a talent agent?
And how do you know they’re legit?
And not likely to rip you off?
Among the best pieces of advice I will give to some actor starting out is to work with what’s known as a union-franchised service (or broker ).
SAG and AFTRA was their own separate marriages, but in 2012 the two merged to become SAG-AFTRA, one joint union to represent all celebrities for on-camera work.
There are pros and cons for celebrities who are part of SAG-AFTRA.
The marriage guarantees that they have paid a certain minimum wage for any on-camera work they get booked . They also guarantee specific working conditions, and supply celebrities health insurance, retirement, and other benefits.
If you reside in one of those many, many smaller markets across the country that does not have plenty of consistent work for union actors, this could be a massive drawback.
However, the question of whether or not you ought to join the union is a debate for another day.
The main thing for virtually any actor to understand is how unions work with talent agencies.
SAG-AFTRA issues businesses to qualified talent agencies that meet particular requirements.
These are known as union-franchised agencies.
These agencies must employ, pay a complimentary, and be accepted by SAG-AFTRA so as to have the ability to represent union actors.
It does not follow that you will need to join the union so as to utilize these agencies.
In actuality, for most actors residing outside of a significant market like LA or NYC, I usually suggest that you don’t join the union (but that is a longer conversation for another time).
What it does mean is that these agencies are highly controlled by SAG-AFTRA, and have agreed to certain conditions for all their celebrities, union members or not.
The agency must make its earnings almost exclusively through commissions they get when they get work for the celebrities they represent
they Can’t charge a commission for getting actors auditions
the bureau Can’t be connected with an acting school or teach any courses or workshops within an agency
there Can’t be an in-house photographer or special third party photographer that celebrities are required to utilize
they could only charge actors 10 percent commission for SAG-AFTRA tasks (they could charge higher commission for non-union jobs, generally 15-20percent )
They are usually a safe haven in the many scams out there designed to rip off unsuspecting celebrities.
Does this imply that non-franchised talent agencies can not be trusted? Or that you should not sign with them?
They work hard to find work for the celebrities they represent, and they simply have the best of intentions.
But finding out which of these non-franchised agencies are reputable and which ones are a scam is something which comes with a great deal of experience working in that business.
And there are many that seem to be legit UNTIL you begin to work together and wind up wasting your time and your money.
So that’s the reason why I always recommend that actors attempt to work with a union-franchised service when first starting out.
How to Discover a union-franchised talent agency
Locating a franchised agency close to you’re easy-go to SAG-AFTRA’s franchised agent page on their site in https://www.sagaftra.org/professionalrepresentatives and look for those services in the market closest to where you live.
Do not be afraid to expand your search beyond just your regional area-you could even check within a few hour radius of where you live.
It may be more difficult to get to auditions in person, but there may be opportunities for you to self-tape your auditions and submit them to the bureau.
It’s far better to get the franchised agency which is going to be the best fit for you, and then work out the logistics of how and when you’re audition.
There may be a number of non-franchised agencies which are closer to where you live.
Many will be completely above board, and provide you access to some of the very same auditions and bookings that you would get if you’re signed to a franchised agency.