Updated: Oct 11, 2021
Actors, can you get work without a talent agent?
The short answer is “yes”, you can get work without a talent agent! By work, I don’t mean background actor gigs---you definitely do NOT need a talent agent to book background roles. By work, I’m referring to commercials, TV shows, and films.
You might be asking, “what is a talent agent?” A talent agent is a middle-man who has relationships with casting directors and the like in the industry. “Talent agencies are associative organizations that represent members of the film industry in all aspects of business negotiations. Performers, Directors, and Producers are apart of those agencies. A talent agency will seek employment for their clients as well as reach contractual agreements for them. Such agencies will receive a commission for their service from the gross pay that the client receives.” USlegal.com
Let’s take actress Yvonne Orji. She landed her role on HBO’s Insecure with no talent agent, manager nor any acting experience. She, in fact, landed her role “as a result of a personal journey during which she said ‘yes’ to any opportunity that she felt could help her launch a career in Hollywood. It’s what Issa Rae was able to see and turn to the producers and say ‘Give her a shot.’ CNBC.com
It’s important to network in the acting industry which can lead to a plethora of opportunities.
It’s Possible--My Story!
After a long hiatus from raising my family and completing school, I landed my first principal role (via word-of-mouth) on a television show, in February 2014 on Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural, portraying Gloria Bridges. This was my first taste with not only television acting but as a principal actor. I absolutely loved being on set, and once we wrapped, I sought out more. Unlike Yvonne Orji, I, however, had theatre experience, but no training for acting for film and television before taking this role, on the other hand just like Yvonne Orji I too did not have either a talent agent or manager.
After another break from the industry completing another degree and gaining full-time employment in order to make ends meet, I had an opportunity to be in a commercial for a furniture company, portray Gloria Bridges again AND work as a voiceover artist portraying Bernice King for an audiobook titled, Nationalism Without Compassion.
I’m not saying that I won’t ever pursue a talent agent, but what I will say is it is possible to get roles and get into the audition room just by simply networking, making connections and putting yourself out there.
If anyone has any experience booking any commercials, TV shows and the like without an agent, please share your experiences by sending us an email to email@example.com