Catrine gives you the facts of what a talent agency actually does and how they operate so that you can spot a scam.
I was approached by a talent agency when I was at the mall. I’ve thought about acting, but what do I need to watch out for? Jamie T., DesMoines, IA
Here’s the big one: YOU DON’T PAY TO JOIN AN AGENCY! The good, legitimate agencies will RARELY approach YOU. In fact, it can be difficult to get an appointment with a good, legitimate agency, much less get signed by them. Keep in mind that a talent agency should only make money in ONE way, and that is through a percentage that they get paid for, by you, for jobs that they send you out on (a commission). Therefore, a good, legitimate agency goes for quality, not quantity. If they have a 40-year-old Hispanic woman who books everything she goes out on, they probably are not going to take on many people in that same ethnicity and age range—they don’t want to create more competition for that one gem they already have.
With that said and done, there does need to be money spent to get started as an actor. You DO absolutely need a headshot, a resume and training. It could be that your agency has a great photographer that works with them, and they may teach great classes, but joining the agency should never be contingent on you using their photographer(s) or taking their classes. In most cities, you can get a great headshot done for $150. So, if you are paying $600 for headshots through an agency, they are probably paying their photographer $50 a headshot. Then they set up a whole day of headshots, so the photographer does OK for a day’s work, but the agency REALLY rakes it in.
If you are thinking about signing with any agency, Google them to see if there are any scam warnings, check with the Better Business Bureau, ask other actors about them, ask your local film commission and go into ANY contract with your eyes wide open.
– Catrine McGregor
Catrine has cast well over 400 projects, including films, TV, IMAX, commercials, webseries and video games. She is a member of the prestigious CSA (Casting Society of America). During her forty year career in the film industry, Catrine has worked extensively all over the US as well as Europe and Africa. She prides herself in discovering and developing new talent, and has done so with many people that you see every day in films and on TV.
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Last modified: August 13, 2017