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Actors and Commercial Models: How to Get an Agent

Guide to finding Acting/Commercial Representation

If you are interested in acting and commercial modeling, the process of finding an agent is different from that of fashion models (as are the agents you will approach). Seasoned actor, teacher, and acting coach Jenny Mercein generously offered to guest blog and give you this invaluable Guide to Finding an Agent

Actor Jenny Mercein

Actor and Acting Coach Jenny Mercein

Acting Classes and Workshops

Getting an agent is extremely challenging at any age. Although it can be frustrating to pay money to meet with industry professionals, pay-to-play places such as One on One and Actors Connection are a legitimate way to obtain representation. In fact, that’s how I got my agent! It may not always seem like it, but the majority of agents and managers who agree to give these classes and workshops are genuinely interested in finding new talent.

Agent Connections

Be selective in terms of who you target. If you have any personal connection to an agent or manager, however tangential, try to sign up for a session with that person. A mutual friend or a friend who is a client will be good fodder for small talk. And talent reps are not just casting you for a specific role, they are looking to form a long-term relationship. If you have a friend who can follow up on your behalf and attest that you are an honest, reliable person, that is just as important as picking a great audition piece. On the flip side, don’t presume friends with fancy agencies will open doors for you. Use your best judgement in terms of asking for a referral, and don’t be offended if your friend declines. This is a tough business. If you are just starting out, you might be best served by a smaller agency.

Casting Director Referrals

The best referral for an agent or manager is a casting director. The first question agents or managers will ask you is “Which casting directors know your work?” I would strongly advise you to take workshops with casting directors. If you can afford it, take a multiple-week class so you can form a relationship and the casting director can really get to know your abilities. Again, be selective in terms of whose class you invest in. Pick five television shows or movies that you feel you could be cast in, look up who was the casting director, and see if that person or someone from his/her office offers classes anywhere in NYC. Don’t expect that the casting director will offer to refer you to an agent, but when you meet with an agent (through a referal or a paid session), you will have a few casting directors to mention who know your work. This is incredibly important to agents and managers.

Referral-Only Agencies

You won’t have any luck at referral-only agencies such as Innovative or WME unless you have a referal. You will waste your time, energy, and money by sending in unsolicited material or cold calling /emailing. Again, my advice is to form relationships with casting directors. Take classes and workshops with folks who cast for projects you’ve loved (film, television, or theater). Volunteer to be a reader for a casting director. If you are fortunate to make a strong personal relationship with a casting director, you can ask advice on how to obtain an agency or ask for a referral to a specific agent. But tread lightly! You can undo all of the good work you’ve done in building a relationship with a casting agent if you become a nag or have unrealistic expectations about what he or she can do for your career.


When you meet any industry professional, ask them how they prefer to keep in touch. Some will give their email or phone number, others still prefer postcards. In either case, keep in touch. Almost five years spanned between my first meeting with Abrams Artists Agency to signing with them, but my patience, persistance, and periodic postcards paid off! Eventually, I signed with their commerical department. They’ve been loyal and amazing agents for almost ten years now.


Jenny Mercein is an actor, teacher, director, and acting coach. Her website is http://www.jennymercein.com


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