Do people ever tell you that you look like an actor? Okay, but do you wish that they did? Do you think you've got some talent, or at least a great look? Do you have self-esteem coming out every imaginable orifice? If endless rejection, years of waiting tables, and the chance at absurdly high pay for work that requires absolutely no education sounds good to you, then by golly it's time you got an agent.


Why do you even need an agent? Because agents are the gatekeepers to the people who hire you for TV, film, and commercials — the casting directors (CDs) and producers. In return for helping you find work, your agent will receive 10% of your paychecks (at least, 10% is the industry standard. Beware of deviant contracts).

There are different types of agents for different types of talent. The main types are theatrical (TV and film) and commercial (for commercials only). There are also dance, print (photos only), voice-over (voice only for TV, film, radio), and legitimate (theater) agents. Your agent may represent you for one or more of these categories. Being with the same agency for everything is called being "signed across the board." Some actors prefer to have different agents for different types of work since certain agencies specialize in certain types of casting, while other actors prefer to have centralized representation.

Agents get information about auditions for roles, either directly from CDs and producers or from an insiders-only fax service called "the breakdowns." The breakdowns is a daily faxed list of roles being cast, and they are available only to agents and managers. There are those enterprising actors who get together in groups and outfox breakdowns into giving them a subscription, but actors are technically not allowed to get breakdowns. But we have no qualms about giving you the website:

For each role, a CD will receive hundreds to thousands of résumés and headshots, from which they will narrow the field to the amount that they have the time and/or need to audition. There are so many actors vying for so few roles that talent agents act as the first step in the weeding-out process. In this field, where the supply so greatly exceeds the demand, just getting an audition is quite an accomplishment. And to get the audition, you need an agent. Get it? Got it? Good.