Most actors will cite that one of the main reasons for going to drama school (apart from the training itself) is to get an agent. Contacts states that “A good agent will have contacts and authority in the entertainment industry that you, as an individual actor would find more difficult to acquire. Agents, if you want them to, can also deal with matters such as Equity and Spotlight membership renewal. They can offer you advice on which headshot would be best to send out to casting directors, what to include, or exclude in you CV as you build on your skills and experience, what a particular casting director might expect when you are invited to an audition, and so on.”
As Rebecca Blond from Rebecca Blond Associates contends, the partnership between actor and agent is an important one. Her job is “to introduce the actor to the world” while both actor and agent map out a possible career, as balanced as possible.”
At Masterclasses at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, one of the most common questions put to the actor onstage (frequently in a voice that has a touch of desperate hysteria about it) is “How did you get your agent?” I had the opportunity to ask respected agent – Rebecca Blond – questions which often come up in Q and As and here she gives a unique insight into the Industry from her perspective as an agent.
Does training at an accredited drama school put an actor in a more favourable position when you are considering whether to take them on as a client?
I don’t think that a drama school can teach you how to act, I think you have to have “something” that will then be honed during the course. And indeed they won’t give you a place unless they believe you have potential. But yes, given that it does pull together all the strings and gives an actor the best foundation preparing them for the world of professional acting, I would strongly advise going to drama school. And yes, I think that on the whole having trained is important when I consider representing someone.
In your experience, do you find it easier to get auditions for actors who have trained as opposed to those who haven’t?
I think it probably is, mainly because casting directors will have been to the drama school showcases, so when you’re suggesting a new graduate, chances are the casting director will have a view on them already from the showcase. I have taken on clients who haven’t been to drama school, they might have done drama at university for instance, and in pushing them for auditions, at that point it comes down to my relationship with the casting director as to whether or not they’ll see them. Given that most have us have been “doing business” for years, I like to think that they trust that I won’t be selling them a dud.
How often do you respond to requests from actors hoping for representation to come and see them in a production?
If you’re referring to drama school shows, to be honest I probably won’t respond to each letter because I know I’ll be going to the shows, and they’ll be given the list of who’s in. With actors who are already out there, if I’m interested in the actor who’s writing, I’ll respond telling them I’ll come to the show. If I’m not interested, if we get an S.A.E, we’ll reply. If not, we don’t.
How important is a drama school student’s third year show case for getting an agent?
Crucial, because it’s the shop window for them and is sometimes the only way we get to see what an actor can do before considering whether to take them on or not. If, as an agent, you follow a student through his or her final shows leading up to the showcase, then the showcase will lead to the final confirmation of what you think, as it were. Sometimes however I can’t get to see as many shows as I would like, so there are some colleges where I will only see the showcase and for me that is the only opportunity I get to see the students. With most drama schools, students are not encouraged to sign with an agent before their showcase. This is because the school believe the students should have the chance to be seen by all the agents before making a decision as to who to go with, and they know that the showcase is the moment for the broadest exposure.
I’ve always enjoyed watching the one year students because alot of the time they’ve been to uni and then on to drama school. They’ve had some life experience which can bring something interesting to their acting. Obviously some one year courses are better than others, but I will cover both the three year courses as well as the one year.