Former Talent Agent Reveals “Back Room Deals”, Client Manipulations, And Agency Secrets Used To Get Even The Most Inexperienced Actors Booked On $1000+ A Day Gigs
Entertainment industry “experts” will tell you that you need to move to Hollywood to “make it” as an actor–what they don’t tell you is that THOUSANDS of actors are booked on great paying commercials, industrials, film & TV jobs EVERY DAY, in cities all across the country.
I had no clue how to get paid as an actor.
I knew that some actors were making money. I mean, the cast of Friends were making a million dollars EACH, PER EPISODE!
But that was Hollywood. And I was in Cleveland.
Most of my friends and family tried to discourage me from being an actor.
In fact, whenever I even mentioned acting, they were quick to share their favorite actor “horror stories” or statistics…
90% of actors are out of work
the industry is all about “who you know”
better learn how to wait tables!
get ready to pay a lot of money for a crappy apartment in Hollywood!
my friend tried to make it an actress but couldn’t event get good auditions, so she just moved back home with her parents
you have to be VERY beautiful and VERY talented to be an actor
They might as well just come out and said it: “you’ll never make it as an actor”
And you know what…they were right.
I thought I was doing all the right things–
I took acting classes
I did theatre
I went to a “good” college for acting
I acted in a bunch of student films
I went to every audition I could, even for roles that weren’t really right for me
I was doing everything I was “supposed” to be doing, but I was just working hard spinning my wheels, and I wasn’t making any money money acting. I was tired, I was frustrated, and I was ready to give up on my acting altogether.
I even started looking for a day job.
That’s how I came across something that changed my life–a job posting for a “junior agent” position at a local talent agency.
I knew that talent agents existed, but they didn’t seem real to me. It seemed like something you got after you went to Hollywood and got “discovered.”
I had no idea how wrong I was.
I interviewed and got the job.
I’ll never forget my first day at the agency–the phones constantly ringing, dozens and dozens of actors in and out all day for auditions and meetings, this electric feeling of energy and excitement in the air.
There was DEFINITELY stuff going on here–actors getting booked every day on commercials, training videos, voiceovers, and even film & TV…a whole world of actors getting great bookings right in my backyard, and I never even knew about it!
The owner of the agency said something to me that day that has stuck with me ever since that day–
“The first thing you need to understand–actors are stupid.”
I’m not going to lie, I was more than a bit put off. I mean, I was an actor myself and I certainly didn’t consider myself stupid by any means.
But as time went while I worked at the agency, I began to understand what the owner meant that day.
There are tons of talented actors out there.
There are some people that are incredibly gifted at breaking down a script and bringing a character to life.
But the vast majority of the actors are NOT good at the BUSINESS side of acting.
They had no idea how to find auditions, or cultivate relationships with the casting directors and producers that hire actors on a regular basis.
They didn’t know whether or not they should be part of an acting union, figure out the usage of a project, or negotiate how much they should be getting paid.
That’s why talent agents exist–to help actors manage the business side of things, so the actors can focus on the actual acting.
And the truth is, without an agent, most actors are stumbling through the dark on this stuff.
They’re NOT getting the best auditions, and they’re NOT getting the best rates.
Most actors are completely clueless when it comes to the business of acting–they can’t do it on their own, but don’t know how to go about finding a great talent agent that can help them.
Hi, I’m Brian Bowers. I’m a former talent agent who has successfully negotiated tens of thousands of dollars in bookings for actors and models in commercials, TV, film, voiceovers, and print. I continue to work in the film industry today, helping producers and filmmakers create films as a part of the world’s largest timed film competition. I’ve worked in the entertainment industry for over 30 years–as an actor, producer, photographer, entrepreneur, and more.
As an agent, it was easy to see which actors were going to be successful. The ones that did exactly as we instructed them did very well–they were called in for tons of auditions, got booked on lots of jobs (some of them very high-paying), and were even requested by clients for future gigs that they didn’t even have to audition for. Many of these actors had little or even no acting experience at all before they signed with the agency.
Most people are surprised by this, but that’s because they don’t really understand how talent agencies work within the acting industry. Agencies are looking for a few specific things in actors–things that will make the agency’s job easier and allow them to get their actors booked on more gigs for the clients that are hiring them.
For some reason, the entertainment industry has decided to keep this information under lock and key, so actors have been left completely in the dark about exactly what talent agencies are looking for in an actor.
But I was an actor, too, and I know this is the kind of information that would have given me a HUGE advantage in landing an agent and getting acting gigs.
And that’s exactly why I’ve decided to share this–to give you a real insider’s look at how actors can land a talent agent of their own, from someone who has been on the other side of the the table.
After working at the talent agency for years, there’s several different truths I’ve come to discover about actors and talent agents.
Truth 1: Most actors don’t realize why they should have an agent
You may think you’re doing OK without an agent. And to be honest, if you’re just goofing around with acting and don’t care what kind of gigs you get, then maybe you shouldn’t have an agent. If you’re happy doing indie films for copy & credit, student films for the craft services, or bit parts in local commercials for $25 in gas money, then you certainly don’t need an agent to help get you these types of gigs (and they wouldn’t anyway, since agents always try to get their actors the most money possible so they can get a higher commission…which is why they don’t have time to deal with gratis gigs like these).
But if you’re looking to get better access to the best auditions, and want to get booked on great paying gigs, then you’ll need the help of a solid talent agent.
At one time early in my career, I thought I was fine without the help of an agency.
I made some solid connections with a few production companies. One of them had a client that wanted to book me as a spokesperson for their website–two different videos, about an hour of my time, and I was going to make $150.
$150 for an hour of work–I was thrilled!
Years and years later, those two videos are still up on that client’s website, helping them rake in paying customers every day.
One day I decided to calculate the rate I probably should have gotten for those videos–and probably would have gotten, had I been represented by an agency at the time.
The grand total came to about $30,000 (and getting higher as time goes by).
Is that kind of money for an acting gig like that really possible? You better believe it is–with the right agency.
But like me, most actors are happy with the $150.
But only because they don’t know about the $30,000 that they missed out on.
And most people don’t know that these great-paying gigs are happening EVERY DAY in cities all across the country.
You don’t need to move to Hollywood to get booked on these jobs–they’re happening right now in your own backyard!
Truth #2: You don’t have to be beautiful OR have tons of experience to sign with an agency
Don’t get me wrong–there will always be a place for pretty people in the world of acting 🙂
But the vast majority of people aren’t what most would call “beautiful”–in fact, they look like nice, ordinary people you’d meet every day.
Take a good look at commercials the next time you’re watching TV. Most of the actors in these commercials aren’t models.
They’re real people, just like the real people that buy the real products those commercials are selling.
Which means that every day, casting directors are looking to book real people (like you and me) in these roles.
There’s truly room for ALL types of actors in the industry.
Take my friend Ethan for example. When he signed with the talent agency, he was a slightly overweight teen with braces who had ONLY ever acted in a handful of live plays–he had never done any work on camera.
But within a couple months of signing with the agency, we were able to land him an audition that he was perfect for. He got the gig, and ended up with a great speaking role on the Spike TV series The Kill Point starring John Leguizamo & Donnie Wahlberg!
Ethan was hardly what you would call a model, but he landed an amazing role quicker than the majority of the “pretty” people we represented at the time.
Ethan couldn’t have gotten this gig without the help of the talent agency, but the agency also wouldn’t have been able to get this job booked if we didn’t represent Ethan.
And the fact is, ordinary looking people like Ethan get booked on gigs every day, so talent agencies need these types of real looking actors as much as they do the pretty people.
Truth #3: Most actors have no clue how to land an agent
In the time that I worked at the talent agency, I met with hundreds of actors.
I was always amazed at how clueless most actors were when it came to agencies.
I met with people who had never acted in their lives but felt like we should be able to get them straight into a room with Hollywood casting directors.
I met with people who had dropped thousands of dollars on acting classes, but couldn’t see the value in getting good headshots.
And I met with people who had hustled for years and years, making almost NO money on their own, never knowing that we could have been getting them bookings worth thousands of dollars, had they signed with us earlier.
It was sometimes scary how little actors knew about agencies.
But mostly it was sad.
I really began to feel bad for many actors.
Here we were–a legitimate talent agency, getting real paying gigs for people every day.
We NEEDED great actors to represent that we could book on jobs for our clients.
But it seemed like most of the people we WANTED to represent had no clue how to find us. Or they had burned out trying to do things on their own, never realizing how much a talent agency could have helped their career.
Even though I don’t work for a talent agency anymore, these things all still hold true today.
So I finally decided that I HAD to do something–I had tons of valuable knowledge from my years of working at the agency, information that I KNEW would help actors find the right talent agency to represent them. That’s why I created Talent Agency Insider.
Introducing Talent Agency Insider
Talent Agency Insider is a step by step course designed to help you find the best talent agency for you, get signed, and work with your agency to start getting great auditions and high-paid bookings.
This course will give you a true “insider’s” view of talent agencies–everything I learned from years of working for a talent agency myself that I wished actors knew. Some of what you learn about how agencies work will surprise you…or even shock you! Much of this will be information you’ll never hear about in any other kind of acting class–it’s information you could only learn from someone who has spent years working on the inside of a talent agency. At a minimum, it’s the kind of information that could cut years off the learning curve and finally get you meetings with agents begging to be able to represent you and get you paid work in commercials, training videos, TV & film.
Here’s some of what will be covered in the course:
- The one thing that you absolutely have to get right before you send out a single headshot or go to any auditions or meetings…get this wrong, and it will be virtually impossible to get good roles
- Christopher Walken’s secret super power that got casting directors beating down his door to cast them in their films — learn to develop this “super power” for yourself and you’ll have clients following you around with job offers like you were the Pied Piper of Hollywood
- How agencies get their actors booked on speaking role gigs without ever auditioning or even being seen by the client
- The one tool that you absolutely HAVE to have in order to really start making money as an actor…you may be getting by without this now, but your agency will drop you like a lead turd if you don’t make this investment once they represent you
- The old-school myth that you have to be a model, or incredibly attractive to succeed in the entertainment industry, and what most clients these days are really looking for when they book actors
- How agents get brand new actors booked, even if they have never been on camera before
- Why you need to understand who the audience is for a script, and how to break down and make sense of even the most poorly written pieces of copy (you’d be surprised how many audition scripts are grammatically incorrect, don’t make sense, and seem like they were written by a 4th grader)
- How SAG-AFTRA can help you choose an agency, even if you’re not a part of the union
- Why it pays to be your agency’s “go-to” actor, and how to become the “dream talent” that they wish all of their other actors would be
- How to ruin all of your agent’s hard work with one pen stroke, and why it could cost you thousands of dollars (and possibly, your agency contract)
- The only three things that matter in your agency contract
- The “Stephen Spielberg” question that will piss off potential talent agents and ruin your chances of getting signed
- The three most common ways of getting a meeting with an agent, and how to ace each one
- The one kind of headshot that will get you the most mileage with agents, casting directors, and producers
- The secret tool that allows top tier actors to recite pages and pages of technical dialogue on camera without spending hours and hours memorizing lines…master this and you can practically double your day rate…use it poorly and people will literally think you are insane
- How agents get actors to channel their inner “Al Jolson” to book jobs they’d never be able to book otherwise (a word of warning–this “dirty trick” will offend many people, and would piss off the NAACP if they knew it was happening…but it’s usually deadly effective in getting actors booked in certain niches)