A talent agent can open up doors for actors and get them auditions and bookings that the vast majority of people never even hear about.

Don’t believe me?

Just ask Ethan.

Ethan was a teen actor who had signed up for an on-camera acting workshop I was teaching. He had some theatrical experience but hadn’t done any on-camera acting previously. But he was very talented and enthusiastic, and after the workshop, I invited him to meet with me at the talent agency I worked at to discuss representation.

We ended up signing Ethan, and within just a couple of months, we got him booked on a major supporting role in Spike TV’s The Kill Point, starring Donnie Wahlberg and John Leguizamo.

This teen actor with almost no experience in front of a camera got booked on a major cable network TV show because he found the right agent.

Can you imagine the auditions and bookings you’d have access to if you signed with the right agency?

How different would your career (and your life) be?

It all starts with finding a great agent to represent you.

When I worked as an agent and spoke with people who had never worked with one, it became quite clear that most people have no idea what an agent does or why they should have one. The Dictionary.com definition of a talent agent is simply, “one who represents performers.” This is pretty vague and doesn’t say a lot. If you look up the definition of agent, the first entry is “a person or business authorized to act on another’s behalf.” This comes much closer to describing what an agent actually does. A talent agent has two main functions-to negotiate contracts, and to solicit clients on your behalf.

Agents really have two separate customers: the talent they represent (models and actors) and the clients who are booking the talent (producers, directors, art directors, etc.). The agent’s job is to meet the casting needs of the clients by filling roles with as many the talent they rep as possible. Agents often walk a fine line trying to please both groups of people. Because agents only get paid a commission off of the total amount of money that the talent make, it’s in their best interest to get their talent as much money as possible.

Has it been a while since your last audition? Wonder if your agent is still alive? Getting worried that your agent may be getting ready to give you the boot? It would make sense-if you’re not being called in for auditions, then you’re not making money for either you or your agent. If you’re not making anybody money, then you’re not an asset to the agency, right?

If you’re in a large agency in one of the major markets, then you may have something to worry about. It is customary for agencies to “purge” talent who aren’t really producing. Maybe you showed up unprepared to your auditions, or maybe it’s just slow for your type. Whatever the reason, if you haven’t been getting auditions or booking jobs and you’re in L.A. or N.Y.C., chances are you should probably be hunting around for a new agency.

But if you’re in a smaller market, your agency may be more likely to keep you around even if you’re not booking jobs at the moment. Especially if you’re represented by a large commercial agency that takes on many different ages and character types. Why would your agency keep you around,

So you did it! You finally got an agent! Someone who believes in your work. Someone who has the connections to get you more and better work, and someone who has the business sense to get you the best deal and most money for gigs. Congrats!

Then your biggest fears start to come true. Your agent stops taking your phone calls. You go months with no auditions or bookings. You meet other talent who have been waiting to get paid for gigs from months ago. All of the sudden, your stardom dreams are turning into a nightmare! What have you done? Did you sign a deal with the devil?

Fortunately in most cases, it is possible to get out of your agency contract. Here are a few things to look for when you’re trying to break ties with your agent or agency. They may not apply to everyone’s particular situation, but they are a good starting point.


1. Did you sign a contract?

It sounds obvious, but remember that if you didn’t sign a contract, you may not be legally obligated to stay with your agent. If you did not sign a formal contract,

Times are tough right now for every industry-but especially advertising. With marketing budgets being slashed for small businesses and national corporations alike, companies are spending less money on placing ads, which in turn means less commercials and print ads. Because these are the bread and butter of most regional talent agencies, many are being forced to close up shop.

Don’t be left out in the cold when your agency closes! Here are seven signs that your agency is in trouble:


1. Things are tense in the office

When revenues are down, agents are under the gun to get people booked. This can be a Herculean task if there are no places in town booking models or actors. Chances are the agency owner is pressuring the agents with threats of wage cuts or even termination. If your agent seems testy, this is not a good sign.


2. Bookings are few and far between

Obviously if you are not working, that’s a problem for you. Ask your agent-is it just slow? Is the market slow? Should I be marketing myself differently? A savvy agent will take the time with you on the phone to answer these things.