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How to Get an Agent for Commercials
By Lydia Sviatoslavsky
What is the appeal of commercial acting?
People are drawn to acting for all sorts of reasons. Some seek fame, while others are drawn to acting as a creative practice.
Whatever it is that drove you to pursue acting as a creative discipline, don’t be so quick to dismiss commercial acting as a viable avenue. Plenty of famous Hollywood actors started in the arena of commercial acting, from Bryan Cranston to Keanu Reeves.
Briefly, consider the benefits of commercial acting, particularly if you’re an actor who is brand new to the industry:
You’ll gain experience as an actor.
Any and all experience is critical if you’re in the process of building your resume.
You’ll gain exposure as an actor.
Splashing your face across commercial projects means you’ll inevitably reach a larger, diversified audience. You’ll be afforded the opportunity to make new connections in the industry, and potentially catch the eye of a future employer!
You’ll make bank.
Commercial acting tends to pay quite well. Payment is dependent on the marketing distribution as well as the brand you’re representing.
Now, if you’re convinced that commercial acting may be worth your time, you’re going to need a commercial agent.
Why should you pursue an agent as a commercial actor?
Your agent is your advocate.
Your agent knows which commercial projects need casting, and which ones are most likely to be a match for you. Once your agent identifies a match, they will submit your work to the relevant casting directors and producers.
In short, your agent is your way IN. Choose wisely.
How do I get a commercial agent?
Do your research.
Start building a list of well-established agents who are most likely to meet your needs. You may want to try resources like the SAG-AFTRA “Franchised Agents List,” which offers a network of agents organized by location and area of specialty.
As you research agents, consider the following questions:
Where is the agent based? Do they live anywhere near me?
Who has the agent represented? Are their clients successful?
How long has the agent been in the business for? What sort of reputation do they have?
How large is their agency? (Keep in mind: If you’re virtually unknown, you probably won’t be able to sign with a large, highly-regarded agency. Don’t get discouraged—Build your name first!)
Can I envision myself working with this agent or agency?
Do not rush through this step. Remember: Your agent is your advocate. If you don’t select an advocate who truly values you and your abilities, you won’t get very far.
Compile your application materials.
Now that you’ve assessed your potential agents, it’s time to assess your own candidacy! What do you have to offer?
Here’s what you’ll need to do in order to apply to an agency:
Prepare your acting headshot.
Your headshot should be polished and professionally-shot. Don’t submit a selfie or a photo your mother lovingly shot. Hire a professional and take your photoshoot seriously.
Prepare your acting resume.
Be transparent about your work history! Your agent or agency will do their research. That said, don’t worry about your lack of experience. As long as you’ve completed a few projects (Think minor IMDB credits!), you can construct a sufficient resume.
Prepare your acting reel.
Your acting reel should represent your absolute best performances. Skip the mediocrity and the tiresome monologue. You want to share content that is impactful. Aim to flex your range as an actor, highlighting moments of heightened emotion or gripping dialogue. Professionalism is key here, so shoot and edit accordingly.
Submit your application materials.
Once you’ve prepared your application materials, you can begin the submission process!
This process will vary agency to agency, so you should review the submission requirements for each agency before contacting anyone.
As you start the submission process, adhere to the following suggestions:
Capitalize on any existing connections you have within the agency.
If you happen to know anyone involved with the agency—agent or client—make this known. Familiarity suggests credibility.
Keep it short.
Talent agents are busy people! In other words, they don’t have time to sift through an extensive portfolio. Submit two headshots and two reels at most, and keep your email brief.
You may want to pat yourself on the back after completing the submission process, but you’ll be disappointed if you expect immediate results. You will probably need to follow up with your agent or agency. If a week has passed since you submitted your work, follow up with a gentle inquiry regarding the status of your submission.
Best of luck!