Freelancing with Several Agencies

I freelance with several agencies. Even though sometimes I self-submit to the casting director, I’ve only been called for principal role auditions through those agencies. Do most U5 or principal roles get cast only through agents?

Short answer? Yes. But, of course, there are no absolutes, so you have to consider the whole picture. Do most roles get cast through agents? Yes. Do all of them? No. Absolutely not. And even among those roles that do get cast through agents, you have to know that your existence on the radar of the casting director is the cumulative effect of lots of work on the part of you and your agent.

Let’s say you are called in to audition for a principal role on a pilot. You receive the call from your agent (who had, indeed, made a pitch call to the CD on your behalf for this project). So, you could say that you got this opportunity through your agent, yes. However, what if this particular casting director was at the industry showcase in which you performed a few months ago and kept your headshot from the kit, knowing she may have a need for your type in the future? What if this CD’s associate taught a class in which you participated and hung onto your headshot? How about that big postcard mailing you did to casting directors last year, announcing that you’d signed with this particular agent? Could the CD have hung onto your photo postcard at that time, having liked your look?

Sure! All of those things are possible. And none of those things has anything to do with whether most principal role auditions come through agents. You quite possibly would’ve been called in without having an agent, if any of those above circumstances were true. The point is they could all be true. And that would provide the CD with plenty of background information on you. When the agent submitted you on this particular project, the casting director already had an idea of who you were, based on all of that prior contact from various sources. The beauty of this is that it is the cumulative impact of all the things you do as an actor that intersect when that opportunity comes along. So, there’s no way to know exactly how any actor gets on a CD’s short list for a role. And it will never benefit you to try and figure out exactly how that has happened for you, when it does. Simply continue doing all of the things that help raise your profile as a professional, talented actor. Get and stay on the radar of those who frequently cast your type. And keep the lines of communication open with your agent and manager to be certain that you are all working toward the same end.

Do good work!

PS: Remember, everyone, I’m still looking for your recommendations for membership theatre companies (and why you’re recommending them). I’ll be sharing the results of your emails in a future column. Thanks!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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