It’s the moment you’ve dreamed of: an acting agent has offered you representation. You’re excited! Now, you’re no longer on your own. You have a professional on your side, someone who will look out for your interests.
While most agents are reputable people who do protect their clients, there are a few scammers out there preying on actors without experience. In all of the excitement of talking to an agent, it’s easy to overlook these warning flags and simply sign on the dotted line. Here are a few clues your agent may not be the real deal…
The Agent Asks You for Money
As a general rule, agents make money when the actor makes money. They get a percentage of your paycheck. Typically, this amount is between 10-20 percent of your income, although it may vary depending on your agent.
Some agencies take advantage of inexperienced actors by charging them fees for sending out their headshots or prints. They may also ask for money upfront to “secure your spot”. This is a high pressure tactic that’s used to make potential clients feel like they’re going to lose the opportunity if they don’t act right away.
The Acting Agent Recommends Their Own Services
The agent may say they’re willing to take you on if you use the agency’s photographer or go through their “talent classes”. These may be presented to you as “opportunities” but they’re usually a trick because the money is going right back to the agent you just signed with.
A real agent can recommend industry professionals to you. They may know the name of a fantastic photographer or be friends with a terrific acting coach. But legitimate agencies don’t make money recommending you to their friends and colleagues. They make money when you’re hired to act.
The Agent Has a Lot of Complaints
Take your time and research an agent if you get an offer of representation. You can do this by going to a search engine and typing in: “(Agent’s Name) + Complaints” (without quotation marks). You may also want to search: “Agent’s Name + Lawsuit” or “Agency Name + Scam”.
Pay attention to how many complaints you’re seeing. If you only come across one or two, it’s possible you’re looking at a case of sour grapes, clients whose careers didn’t pan out the way they’d hoped. But if you see dozens of complaints or links to legal trouble, run away and fast!
The Acting Agent Makes BIG Promises
Yes, an acting agent can get you work but like all businesses, there are no guarantees. If an agent is promising you a spot in the next Marvel film, they’re probably lying to you.
Real agents want to support you and the dreams you have for your career. But they won’t offer empty promises. They’re not trying to get your hopes up or guarantee you a spot in a new Netflix pilot.
The majority of agents are trustworthy professionals who are proud to support their clients. If they’re seriously interested in representing you, an agency will send you a contract that you can review.
Be sure to read the fine print and consider having an entertainment lawyer look it over, too. Doing this can prevent you from signing with an agency that can shipwreck your career.
Stop waiting to “be discovered” and take control of your own acting career. Find out how when you text ACTOR to 38470!