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Jess Alford: 5 tips for getting an agent

Jess Alford Jess Alford
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Jess Alford is an agent at United Agents where she works alongside Ruth Young. She did an internship at the Donmar Warehouse in 2004 after a degree in European Studies and Italian. She has been an agent since 2005, first at Peters Fraser and Dunlop and now has her own client list at United Agents. Here are Jess’s five tips for actors seeking representation.

1. Don’t use stunts

When approaching agents don’t try be too ‘gimmicky’ in an attempt to stand out from the crowd. We’ve all had that experience of a glitter explosion on our desks from a kooky representation request and none of us like it. Don’t use Twitter as a way of approaching agents. Do your research. Make it a personal approach and keep it simple and to the point.

2. Be nice

Be proactive but not pushy.

3. Look for the right person

Your relationship with your agent is based on trust and team work. When you meet prospective agents (and likewise when we meet you) it has to feel 100% right. You’re going to need a fully open and honest dialogue with your agent so don’t be seduced by the lure of the reputation of the agency over the individual agent. Remember if you’re not earning then your agent isn’t earning either so it is in the best interest of everyone in the team that you’re working.

4. Set out your stall

Make sure your armoury is fully set up with an up-to-date CV, headshot and showreel. These are what sell you to agents and casting directors. A showreel is essential so as soon as you have some screen credits get it sorted (you’d be amazed by the number of actors who still don’t have one). Remember to keep it short and sweet and personally I’d steer clear of so-called tailor made showreels. You can sniff them out a mile away and not always for the right reasons.

5. Don’t mope

Keep a good sense of humour about you. It is so important to have the right temperament to deal with the inevitable knockbacks. While you’re allowed to have your moment to ‘grieve’ for a role you also have to move on quickly otherwise you’ll carry it with you. No one likes a desperate actor.

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