First thing is first, to break into show business, whether you wish to model or act, you need to get some experience in front of a crowd. Local theatre and school theatre is a good place to start. Take classes on public speaking or get involved with Toastmasters. This is an organization geared to help people learn to speak in front of large groups – an essential skill.
Then, if you are serious about finding an agent, get a good set of headshots. Two different looks for Acting. Headshots not 8″ x 10″ are regarded as unprofessional. Please remember to staple your headshot to the back of the headshot, text opposite from the back of the picture.
For Modeling (that’s if you want to dabble in to commercial print modeling) you’re going to want a composite card, this can be a mix of B&W and color. A headshot usually goes on the front and 3 to 4 pictures on back along with your measurements. You can find places that print comp cards online. An agent can usually do comps without getting in trouble with the unions as they are not making a profit on them. My logo does not go on a comp card unless I am the person sending it out to the printer.
You aren’t going to want your photo’s to look like they came from JC Penny’s. They do portraits and it’s an entirely different ballpark here. So no portraits. Again NO “Glamour Shots.” Dynasty has been off the air for years. Comps can have a glamour look to it on one of the shots, but your headshots have to be something else. And don’t just submit a snap shot. Trust me, I do not have time to sort through snapshots, neither do other agents.
Don’t work with ANY agent that makes you use their photographer, in order to be represented. Don’t work with anyone that pressures you into utilizing any of the services they may offer in order to be represented. If an agent wants a fee to represent you, turn around and walk out of their office. They will never get you anything that makes it worth your while for what they charge.
In my opinion, once you do get your headshots done, the best route to go is with a UNION FRANCHISED Agent. A union franchised talent agent can work with both union and non-union talent. AFTRA is the union that works with TV – Commercials and TV Shows – basically shows in a videotaped format.
To find AFTRA and SAG franchised talent agents, visit Actingland.com. Actingland provides contact information for thousands of AFTRA agents and every SAG agent.
Beware of agents that don’t have real offices. The unions will not franchise anyone who works from home. An agency needs a professional office in order to interview clients. I’d be concerned if my niece/sister-in-law/daughter went to interview with someone calling themselves an agent who works out of their home.
Be sure the person you are dealing with as your potential agent is ethical. The BBB is a good place to start but here’s an even better route. Call the state Attorney General’s office if it’s someone you’ve never heard of before. (I started out as an actress myself and learned the hard way.) You’d be surprised how a company can appear clean from the BBB and have a rather large (and active) file in the Attorney General’s office. Still do not neglect calling the BBB.
Try the local Consumer Affairs office too – it never hurts! Many states regulate agencies through the department of Consumer Affairs or Protection. CT regulates through the Dept of workplace Standards.
Standard agency percentages are 10% MAXIMUM on any union work and between 15-20% on non union work if it is outside of union governance. (I have seen model managers take up to 25%, OUCH!)
What is outside of Union Governance? Print, Runway and Promotional Modeling. Don’t let any one take more than 10% for your acting work. Be prepared to spend $$ on GOOD Photos and Printing costs for your headshots. These are your expenses, make sure the photographer you pick is a good one.
Ultimately, please remember, that no matter how difficult it is to get an agent, they work for you, not the other way around. Best of luck in all your careers, and remember to send agents your headshots with the contact info attached. You’d be surprised at the amount of people who send in photos to my agency with no contact info on it at all.