As a beginning actor fresh out of acting school or a theatre program, you need to prepare how to get the word out there that there’s this fresh, new talent they need to pay attention to and book for a role — you, of course!
How do you do this?
Becoming A Professional Actor
According to Backstage Magazine, an online resource and respected industry publication for actors and content creators, there are 5 essential steps to becoming a professional actor:
- Train to become an actor. Mark this as checked if you’re coming from an acting school, a theatre program, a BFA/MFA in theatre, or simply because you have had vast experience in local acting schools, workshops, and performances. But, learning doesn’t stop, and you’d do your best to keep training even as you transition into professional acting now.
- Prepare your headshot, acting resume, and demo reel. Casting directors often require these materials before they will consider any talent for an audition for potential roles. Get your headshot professionally done at GORNPHOTO, the industry leader for best actor headshots in NYC and California. The headshot photographer, Lev Gorn, is an actor himself and knows exactly the kind of headshots you need to get signed with a talent agent or a talent manager. Gorn is best known for his role as the KGB agent in The Americans and as the cosmonaut in For All Mankind, although he has acted or lent his voice to 58 films so far, including Grand Theft Auto IV.
- Submit to auditions and casting calls. Get into the loop of the acting industry, as information on these is usually by word-of-mouth on social networks. Join groups or online forums, as well as check out online casting platforms like Backstage.
- Gain experience to strengthen and polish your resume and reel. As you audition and get signed up for roles, you’ll grow better footage for your reel, and acquire better roles for your resume.
- Get signed by an agent and/or a talent manager. The experience you’ve grown, plus the professional headshots, acting resume, and demo reels you’ve polished, will help you impress acting agents/managers and get representation. This, in turn, will get you access to bigger projects and more substantial roles.
Talent Agents vs. Talent Managers
Although in practice, their roles can overlap and the lines become blurred, talent agents and talent managers each have distinct roles in the entertainment industry.
The talent agent’s role is basically to get you auditions so you can book acting work. The talent manager’s role is to manage your career path. The roles overlap when, for example, your talent agent gives you career advice, and your talent manager gets you booked for an audition or even secures you a role.
(1) Their most significant difference, though, is in their areas of emphasis. According to Acting Magazine, a key online resource for serious actors. the talent agent focuses on employment, while the talent manager focuses on helping you find the tools you need to succeed.
So, a talent agent will concentrate on submitting you for available acting jobs, helping you secure work in the entertainment business, and negotiating your contracts for you.
A talent manager will often take a very hands-on approach to manage your career, and even your personal life — at least the part of your personal life that gets into the public space. They will make sure you secure important things like marketable headshots, effective demo reels, and a reputable talent agent.
Oftentimes, they work together. A talent agent focuses on where your career is right now, while a talent agent focuses on where your career will be in the future by building it from where it is now.
(2) They also differ in their roster size. Talent agents usually have more clients, since they need a pool of good talent to submit to several different roles. Talent managers usually have a select few clients, so they can take a more active and hands-on approach in guiding each actor’s overall career.
(3) The commissions talent agents and talent managers take may differ, too. Typically, a talent agent takes 10% of an actor’s earnings, by union mandate or by law. Sometimes, this is negotiable.
A talent manager has no similar limit, although the standard rate is 15%, especially if they also act as talent agents when the actor has no talent agent. Oftentimes, this is negotiable.
(4) They also differ in the requirements for licenses and legalities. In many locations, talent agents must have a license to operate. Once they have their license, they are legally allowed to submit actors for employment and to negotiate their contracts.
Talent managers are not required to have a license. In practice, they sometimes perform the talent agent’s role by reading breakdowns and submitting their actors for work, as they influence the nature of their actors’ employment.
(5) Finally, they also differ in their capacity for patience. Since the talent agent is focused on securing employment for the actor while earning a commission for themselves, they are less likely to be patient when the actor is not working. If they’ve sent the actor to enough auditions and the actor still doesn’t book any role, they might drop the actor from their roster.
A talent manager, on the other hand, is likely to be more patient since their interest is in seeing the actor’s successful career buildup. If the actor is not booking, they will inquire into why the actor isn’t booking and come up with strategies and take action to remedy it. Talent managers are also more likely to take on new actors to their roster if they see potential in the actor and want to mentor them in developing their careers.
Which is Right for You?
Ideally, you should have both, who work well with each other to get you good roles now and build your career success over the long term.
However, for practical purposes, it is recommended that you get a good talent agent first who can secure quality auditions and roles for you. You will have no career to build for the future if you don’t get any good acting jobs now.
Whether you get a good talent agent or a good talent manager now or soon, an excellent-quality, professionally done, and marketable set of your best actor headshots is key. Before even reading your resume and watching your demo reels, your headshots are the first thing they look at — if, it catches their attention.
Specifically, Lev Gorn advises that your headshots capture your individual qualities, your specific castability, and your dynamic range. “Your headshot has to jump off the page, grab their attention, and tell the casting director exactly who you are and what roles you can play.”
To find out more, like how your new headshots will help you excel, and to gain experienced industry advice on headshot preparation, wardrobe, makeup, and range of looks book a 30-minute free consultation with Lev Gorn and his team now.
To learn more about Lev Gorn’s industry insider tips on getting signed with a talent agent and talent manager, getting noticed by casting directors, booking auditions, meeting directors, making impressive self-tapes to get more callbacks, and more, secure your free copy now of How to Book Your First Big Role, here.