It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.
I am very happy to announce that I now have an agent – Rona Burns of the Burns Agency. She is a wonderful businesswoman and I am thrilled to have her on my side! Now, a lot of people I’ve spoken to have overlooked the importance of agents; they either feel anyone can get represented easily or that they’re some sort of ‘scam’. This is NOT the case. Since this blog is the story of my journey, I feel it important to discuss agencies for those reading this who may be interested in getting into this career. The acting world is horrendously over-saturated and that includes voice acting. I have heard many stories from voice over artists who stated they went years without being picked up by an agent. The fact that I landed one within a month of searching is a miracle! When I studied at the University of Georgia, they literally told me 2% of those who are in this business will be successful enough to work full-time as an actor. 0.05% of us will be ‘household name’ successful. The world of Voice Over is in the same category. In fact, even MORE people are interested because auditioning from home eases the stress of forgoing a stable income. When there are THAT many people interested, the laws of “Supply and Demand” apply: Agencies are never want for talent.
Agencies are paid by commission. A lot of people scoff at that (again, they think it’s some sort of scam) but in actuality, it’s more beneficial to the talent. One if the first tips an actor learns is that you should never have to pay to audition. In the voice acting world this changes a bit due to websites such as voice123.com. However, this rule still applies to agencies. For those who are uncertain, the process of working with an agent goes thusly: The Agent reaches out and finds auditions (or are contacted by their clients with opportunities) and they submit the talent’s demo reel. The client/casting director makes their selection and then the Agent contacts the talent. Either said talent was immediately hired based off the demo or a small group of actors have been selected to audition for the role. The talent is hired and completes the project; the agent gets a percentage (usually 10%).
Without an agent, the talent must do the entire process on their own. I am not joking when I say that the hardest part of getting into this career has been FINDING the opportunities. The agent takes that stress from the talent. PLUS, the agent only gets paid when you do; so, you have a partner who MUST believe in you and seek out jobs for you, so they can earn money. They can also barter on your behalf and protect you – it makes sense. 10% of $100 is $10 but 10% of $500 is $50; it’s not hard to determine which job the agent will focus on.
Now, are agents the be-all, end-all? No. They have more than just you on their roster and you do not fit every opportunity they get. Patience is required as this process can take time. Once you get working in the field, it will continue (like a snowball) but it’s tough getting the ball rolling. I’ve had my agent for two weeks and I’ve not heard a thing – and that’s okay. Because she and I talked about what my focus is and so I know she may skip me for a commercial opportunity so I can be free for when that cartoon role opens up.
Each Agent is different as far as “exclusivity” and such things. My particular agreement gives me the opportunity to continue searching on my own and even seeking out another agent (I’m going to test the waters of California; that area is 10x more saturated than the East Coast but it doesn’t hurt to try!) I am also going to research more Advertising companies – they are different from agencies because they do not seek out jobs for their talent. Instead, when they receive jobs that require voice over work, they hire their freelance artists to do the job. I have seen more success with Giovatto than I have in any other avenue so far.
So, that’s just a little summary of what an Agent is and what they can do for you. Obtaining an agent is a GOOD thing and, depending on the agreement you make with them, has very little risk-factor involved. (Some may require a signed contract stating you will only work through them – that’s a big gamble unless you know the agency gets continual, solid work). These agencies also tend to get re-occurring jobs for you, rather than a one-shot gig.
There is no one set path with the creative field; you need more than one fishing rod out in the pond. An agent is like having a friend in the boat with you.