I am an aspiring actress in the Washington, DC, area and I think I have submitted my headshot to just about every agency in our little market. I have had some luck with local work but I want more. I was wondering what the best way to obtain a legitimate agent is. I was tempted to participate in one of those talent scouting events where they bring the agents to you from NY and LA, but I decided to keep my $700. Do you have any advice for me?

You bet! But first I have a pat on the back to give you for knowing to steer clear of one of the biggest money-making dream-selling businesses on the planet: the out-of-town industry visit put on by a local “scouting” company. Man… don’t get me started on that racket! Suffice it to say that I feel very strongly about the value of such weekend intensives. I know how much the “industry experts” are paid to be a part of those events, and I know how much the aspiring actors pay to attend (and how many of them attend each weekend all over the country). Do a little math and you see that, even with the “Hollywood guest” taking home a few hundred bucks for her time, it’s the scouting company that is raking it in.

Oops. I did say I wasn’t going to go into that topic. Didn’t I? See why?

Back to your question. There are so many variables in what works to get an actor a meeting with an agent, even in a smaller market. Is your headshot the best it can be? Is your resumé in good shape? How’s your cover letter? [See above.] If you’ve worked in the local market, could you ask for an industry referral to help get your foot in the door for a meeting? Have you invited the agents in your market to see your performances in local theatre? Do you have a demo reel you could send to the agents you’re trying to meet?

Here’s a bigger question for you: Are you ready for an agent? Is your career at the level (for your market) where having an agent is a good idea or can you still manage to get most of the work you’d like on your own?

And then the biggest question of all: Is it time to move to a major market to pursue your career? That’s a toughie, for sure, but nearly every actor in Los Angeles and New York has had that to ask himself that question and make the plunge into a major market at some point. That discussion is another column for another week, but perhaps it’s time for you to at least start considering where you see your career going and whether you’ll ever be planning to make “the big move” in order to pursue it.

While you mull all of that over, start using your networking skills to ask for introductions to agents in your area. If you’ve booked enough jobs locally for some key people to get to know you and the quality of your work, you certainly could ask for an industry referral in order to get your first meeting.

Start there, and continue to work at the local level in ways that fulfill you and give you a place to invite agents to see you “doing your thing.” Work because you love the work. Get the word out that you are doing just that. When an agent sees you doing what you love, he will want to be a part of that process for you and you’ll have your meeting — and your first agent — before you know it.

Please keep me posted on how it goes for you!

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 http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000104.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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