So, you haven’t got an Agent? Well, don’t despair. It IS still possible to find work for yourself as a performer, however you need to have your wits about you and some knowledge at your fingertips….
I spoke to agent Mildred Yuan from United Agents to get her lowdown on representing yourself to the best of your ability….
Helen: Mildred, obviously there’s a lot of actors out there without agents. What would you say are the most important things for them to be aware of, particularly if they are just starting out in the Industry?
Mildred:The first piece of advice I would give to anyone is to google themselves!
Nowadays it’s very easy for potential employers to do some research on anyone they’re interested in casting. Make it a priority to clean up (or at least make private) anything you wouldn’t want to share with your professional contacts.
Helen: Good shout [immediately removes all pictures of friend’s hen do from socials]
What about the power of ‘networking?’ I know this is something that actors are advised to do but where do you start?
Mildred: Networking is definitely a valuable thing to do but I’d suggest that you start by following producers, casting directors, directors and actors that you admire so you can understand what they need and are looking for when casting. It’s also worth thinking about who you already know that might be able to introduce you to people they know. There’s nothing wrong with asking someone to make an introduction, as long as it will be mutually beneficial.
Helen: What about getting work without an agent?
Mildred: Attend open casting calls. You can find these in publications like ‘The Stage,’ and ‘Mandy,’ as well as on various social media platforms. The more you audition, the better you get at it. Open calls are a great way to understand what’s out there, meet new people, and see what makes you stand out. You also learn quickly what jobs you want to go for, and which ones aren’t really for you!
Helen: But how can I be sure that attending an open casting is safe and the company legitimate? We’ve all heard horror stories about actors having to get naked in auditions or being expected to work without pay….
Mildred: Ideally you should research the company before you go to an audition and definitely before agreeing to take a job. Who is the contracting party and is the company they are contracting through a registered entity on @CompaniesHouse? What have they produced before? Have they worked with anyone you know?It’s also worth joining a union.
@EquityUK @Directors_UK @TheWritersGuild @WeAreTheMU all have helpful resources, contract templates, rate cards and staff who can help you navigate negotiations and contracts
Helen: What do you think is the best way to ensure that you ‘stand out’ against all the other actors out there?
Mildred: Take take to understand the competition. It’s really useful to understand what else the buyers in the industry are choosing from and having an awareness of this. Are there lots of other people out there who can do what you do? What are their strengths and weaknesses and what can you learn from them? More importantly, what can you do better than anyone else? This is what you need to focus on promoting.
Helen: Any final tips?
Mildred: Yes – remember, you are your own best advocate. Even when you have an agent, they can only talk you up so much, you still have to show up and be the real deal. I’d also say that it’s worth doing some goal setting – but make these achievable and within your control. ‘Sign up and attend that acting class’ is much more within your control than ‘Get a job on the West End in the next 6 months.’
Credit: Photo by PND Photography