It can be very challenging for an aspiring to find commercial representation in Los Angeles. Here are some effective ways that I’ve found to get commercial representation:
You want a headshot that will immediately grab an agent’s attention. Look at your friend’s headshots and see what style you prefer. Ask around to see which photographers are recommended the most. Headshots can be pricey ($250-$600) but a great headshot is well worth its money.
Important Note: Commercial headshots tend to be smiling, while TV/Film headshots look more serious).
Learn all the agencies are in LA. There are special publications (ex. The Right Agent) that give a comprehensive list of all the agents in Los Angeles and their addresses. You can find these publications at a Samuel French Store or on their website.
The agent publications often list what “type” the agencies are looking for at that particular time. Based on what you look like (ethnicity, age, body-frame etc.), mark the agents that are looking for your “type”.
Ask your actor-friends which agencies they recommend or have heard good things about. There are some shady agencies out there. Its better to learn from someone else’s horror story than learn the same lesson the hard way.
Mail your headshot, resume, and a simple cover letter to each agency you marked. This can be a game of numbers. The more you submit, the better the chances are that you will get a response. Some agencies prefer online submissions through email which is usually noted in the publication or on their website if they have one.
There are many venues in LA that host showcases and workshops where you can perform in front of commercial agents. These are often posted on theatre bulletin boards or online casting sites. This can be a great way to find an agent because they get to meet you in person and see you perform.
A personal referral is by far the best way to get a commercial agent. Find out if you know anybody influential in the entertainment industry who is willing to give you a personal referral. The adage “its all about who you know” is completely true in LA. You will find this out very quickly.
It’s hard for most actors to find an agent. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back from any agencies. Keep searching, keep performing, keep asking and you’ll find the right agent. Its scary how much finding an agent is like dating.
Remember, agents work for you. Don’t sign with any agent that calls you in for an interview. Find out how often they get their actors out to audition, how many clients each agent has, and how much they take for commission (industry standard is 10%) before signing any contract. If they want money from you upfront, they are not a real agent. You are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you.