Finding a talent agent for you or your child can be a tiring and confusing task for the industry newcomer. There are so many agencies out there and there are many scams and fly-by-night “agents” out there. Here are a few general guidelines to follow:
A legit talent agency does NOT charge any up-front fees to register. They will make money by booking you (getting you jobs). Most agencies collect anything from 10%-20% from a booking they send you (or your child) on.
Children don’t need headshots. They change so much, so quickly that most agencies prefer you update the photos every 3-6 months until they are in their mid to late teens. Simply take a roll or two of photos of your son – don’t just take headshots, take some of him playing, laughing, making a frown face, and just being himself. Be sure to include some full body shots and different looks (play clothes, dressy, serious, etc). Just play around and have fun with it.
Adults do need a headshot. Different agencies have different requirements- some want black and white, others prefer color and some don’t care. You do not need a comp card (or zed card) unless you are going to do modeling. (A comp/zed card is a composite of 3-4 different looks and a headshot on a 5×7 card).
How to find an agent:
To find local agencies, look in your local telephone book. Most agencies do not accept walk-ins so be sure to call ahead of time to make an appointment. Some questions you want to ask when you call:
1. Are there any fees? (if there are consultation fees, hang up and try again)
2. Do you require any classes? (Agencies will NOT require classes. Modeling and acting schools are not agencies and may cost you a few thousand dollars. These are unnecessary.)
3. Are there specific photo requirements (Many “agencies” have deals with photographers so that they can earn a commission off of all of their referred talent- this is NOT what a real agency practices. If an agent says they ONLY accept headshots from a certain photographer, hang up and try again).
4. Are you accepting new talent (agencies aren’t always in the market for new talent. Just because they’re not looking this month doesn’t mean they won’t need new faces next month so keep checking).
Once you have these three questions answered, make an appointment. Prepare yourself (or your child)- if it is a child, make sure she is comfortable talking and interacting with a stranger.
What to wear: Don’t show up over-dressed but don’t wear an old T-shirt and shorts either. Find a good middle ground.
What to expect: The agent will likely ask you (and/or your child) what you want to get out of it- fame, fortune? Just the experience? Does you want to do print work, modeling, or just acting? They will also be watching your (or your child’s)personality and reactions. Be yourself, over-doing it (over-acting or trying too hard) is a big no-no. Shyness does not impress, either.
You will also have a chance to ask questions- how often do they work their talent (if you are there for your child ask specifically about their child talent)? What types of jobs have they gotten their talent? What are their booking fees? Etc.
Do NOT sign any papers at the agency. Take them home and read them. Some agencies are exclusive (which means you CANNOT work for any other agency for the length of the contract). Some are semi exclusive (which means you can have up to two agents at a time but there may be rules if both agencies send you (or your child) on the same booking, etc). Read this through carefully. You do not have to accept the first agency that sees you. There are many agencies out there and you need to find the one that is right for you (and your child).