Dear West End Producer: ‘What is the best way to contact agents?’
— Mark Rannoch (@MarkRannoch) March 29, 2017
I presume you’re getting close to your showcase and final shows. How very exciting. I hope you get a nice lead in your show and a good scene to ‘sell’ you in the showcase. If for some reason you’re not happy with what you’ve been lumbered with, try all you can to upstage your acting partner by wearing something tight, bright and light (and never wear black – you might get confused for stage crew, dear).
When contacting agents, always keep it professional. Agents receive hundreds of submissions a week and consequently many people will urge you to make your email stand out from the crowd. However, I don’t agree with this – particularly after some of the desperate attempts I’ve seen.
Some actors send gifts, alcohol and even Ann Summers vouchers in their bid to win the best agent – which are all pointless (unless it’s Dom Perignon and Victoria’s Secret, dear). The most bizarre was an actor who had attached a photo of herself on to a string puppet with a note that read: “I’m an actor, and want you to be my puppet master. Please represent me by pulling my strings and crafting my career.” Scary.
It is vital you make your submission and invites personal. If you know an agent has seen you perform, mention this (unless you were rubbish, in which case just hope they’ve forgotten about it). At many agencies, an actor is represented by only one person at that company, so find out which particular agent interests you. They may represent people you admire, or even your friends, so always mention this.
Agents will know you’ll be writing to a lot of different ones – but even so, avoid sending a standard email to everyone. Say why you want to be represented by that particular agency, attach your CV and headshot and say what kind of direction you’d like your career to go in.
The best time to write is when they can see you in something. There really is little point otherwise, unless you have a new showreel. These days agents offer representation on the strength of a showreel alone. In fact, some agents are more interested in seeing a showreel than a play – as they are more keen on screen actors (and don’t have to waste an evening watching lots of dramatic shouting, dear).
Agents, just like casting directors, will firstly be interested in your ‘look’. Make sure your headshots are a true representation of what you actually look like. Your headshot should not be like your Tinder profile picture – taken three years ago when you had a six-pack and just one chin. Your photo must be recent and honest.
The current ‘hot’ trend with agents is young, good-looking Eton types – who could have good film careers. That’s just how it is. The big agents will also scour the top drama schools such as LAMDA, RADA, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School first – trying to find the next big thing. It depends where you train as to which agents will come and see you. But writing a professional letter can help your chances. Good luck, dear.
Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer
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