Tales of Tinseltown: Getting a Foot in Talent Agencies’ Doors

The second time in LA was a time of ups and downs. From crying in acting class to scoring another meeting with a Hollywood agent. While I only stayed for five weeks,  I got a real taste of what the Hollywood filmbusiness and the people in it can be like for the first time. I had been in LA for a week, had reunited with some people from the year before, did some acting classes, got to know my modelesque housemates and had settled in. I spent the days walking to do groceries at Superior (a complete workout in the North Hollywood heat), hanging out near a small public pool and most important: researching talent agencies. I found out that there are basically five agencies that every actor would give his newborn for to be represented by them. They’re called The Big Five: Endeavor, William Morris (now merged together), Creative Artists Agency (CAA), International Creative Management (ICM) and United Talent Agency (UTA). You don’t contact them for representation though, they call you. So I Googled on with just one goal in mind: getting a meeting at a talent agency.

Step 1: Finding Talent Agencies
Besides the Big Five, there are a lot…a LOT of other talent agencies in LA. Like everyone I had heard the stories about agencies being scams, so to prevent myself from spending energy on those I started Googling which agencies represented some of the actors I liked that weren’t A-list yet. I stumbled upon a fanmail website (fanmail.biz) and found some other big, but more approachable ones. Innovative Artists, 360 Management and 1Management came up repeatedly. Now, make no mistake, these are no sweet little agencies that you can just walk into. They are big and represent starts like Amanda Seyfried (who wasn’t A-list at the time). But unknowing and optimistic as I was, I thought: I’m only here for five weeks and need to keep it moving so let’s give it a try!

Step 2: Getting Contact Info
I couldn’t find e-mail any addresses so I decided the only way to get in touch with the agencies was to give the them a call. Walking in is apparently a no-go. A recently met Aussie friend of mine (let’s call her Dove Beauty because she did a commercial for them) had done so at a well-known agency and did not a get a nice reception. Luckily my vampire landlord Gary gave me permission to use the guesthouse phone. So I sneaked into the backyard as soon as no one was around and with sweaty hands dialed the holy numbers. I was so nervous, my heart was beating like crazy… and this was just a phone call. When I finally got connected for most agencies I got a receptionist or assistant on the line whowas willing to give me an e-mail address. One receptionist was exceptionally bitchy though and hung up on me without even letting me finish my sentence. But I was prepared for that and on the bright side: I actually got some e-mail addresses!

Step 3: Getting in Touch
At the time I had a management in Holland and I figured it would look better if they sent the e-mail. So I wrote a couple of nice e-mail drafts requesting a meeting, added my headshots and asked my management to send them. They turned my e-mail into a super professional one and sent them out to the world…Or so I thought. Unfortunately I have the ears of an average 80 year old that went to too much rock concerts, one e-mail came back: The e-mail address you entered does not exist. Boo! That meant I had to call again and would probably have to ask the person on the other end to spell the e-mail address twice to get it right. But in the end I got it. And then it was waiting time…

Luckily LA has many distractions to offer. I explored the beaches with the Aussie friends Mr. Blue Sky Days and Dove Beauty and got my astronomy fix with Mr. Coffee Bean, watching a meteor shower from the hills and visiting the LA Observatory.


Step 4: The Meeting!
One day I opened my e-mail and there it was: a reply! About eight typed words had me jumping up in down in joy. The vice president of one of the bigger agencies had replied, and was asking for my showreel! And although it’s wasn’t any confirmation or meeting yet, the thought that they were interested after seeing my photos was awesome. Okay, so I had no show reel at the time and it was already the last week of my stay, but still it gave me hope for the future. And whilst I couldn’t arrange a meeting with Big Agency within the time I was there I did get a meeting with another agency: The one I had met the year before. The Hollywood agent of none other than Alexis Bledel was willing to meet with me another time. We discussed visa issues, my awful yellow hair (I had dyed it myself, never buy discounted hairdye!) and possible future representation.

And that was as far as I got with talent agencies in five weeks. What did I learn? It takes time. Of course the time difference between my management and me didn’t speed things up with communicating to agencies, but regardless of that you have to be patient. So when I relocate to Los Angeles later this year I will try to do as much as I can beforehand, so I can get in the ring right away. I’ll make sure to have my showreel ready, to have opened contact with agencies and will get on it as soon as I get off the plane! There’s this quote that I like: “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” And in Hollywood, it’s all about luck…

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23 Comments

Filed under Los Angeles

23 responses to “Tales of Tinseltown: Getting a Foot in Talent Agencies’ Doors

  1. It’s very interesting to read your journey to become an actress!

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  3. Lisanne

    Bij welke zat je in NL? Zijn er in NL ook mananagements waar je jezelf aan kan bieden of gewoon kan mailen? Welke kan je aanraden? Nummer19/montecatini? Of moeten zij zelf bellen?

    • Hi Lisanne,
      Ik heb zelf alle managements in NL gemailed en een daarvan heeft gereageerd. Het is in Nederland niet normaal om een management te hebben als je niet al een carriere hebt, maar ik was zo lucky dat ze mij op weg wilde helpen. Succes!

      • Lisanne

        Oke thanks! Weet dat het hier niet zo is, helaas… Ik heb nu nog niet genoeg gedaan om in NL een management te hebben maar ik ben nog jong en veel van plan dus hoop dat dat nog komt. Zou je me kunnen vertellen welk management je wel op weg wilde helpen? Dan ga ik die onthouden voor over een tijdje.

        Nu zit je trouwens niet in LA toch? Wanneer ga je weer? I love your blog!

  4. Ik zit nu niet in LA nee maar ben bezig met de voorbereidingen om een half jaar te gaan vlak voor deze zomer. Daarom had ik deze blog opgestart, om mijn weg naar en in LA vast te leggen voor anderen die het ook willen! Hoop dat je het met plezier blijft lezen 🙂

  5. Geert

    Ha die Nikki,
    Je vertelde me vorige week in de Rechtbank over jouw site en toevallig vond ik die. Leuke en interessante site! Aan die informatie heb je wat aan.
    Ik vond het leuk om je te leren kennen en ik ben heel benieuwd hoe onze aflevering eruit gaat zien.
    gr
    Geert.( de Rechter)

    • Hey Geert, ik heb jouw site ook gevonden, maar ik kende de naam! Hoe heb je mijn site dan gevonden?

      Ik ben ook superbenieuwd naar de aflevering!

      Groetjes!

      PS: Mijn naam is niet Nikki 😉

      • Geert

        Hoi,
        Wat leuk dat je zo snel reageerde! Ik heb jouw site gevonden op http://www.wrapid.nl Dit is een site voor (edel)figuranten, beginnende acteurs enz. De site is gelinked aan Twitter en de hele dag door krijg je info of er een klus is. Heel handig en zo vond ik jou toevallig ook.
        Vanavond ga ik naar Sonny Boy en ik ben echt heel benieuwd. Mijn recensie lees je volgende week wel op http://www.filmabides.nl
        Overigens bewonder ik jouw moed en doorzettingsvermogen. Je bent een echte go-getter. Je zult het ver brengen dat weet ik zeker. Ik zal je zeker blijven volgen en wie weet komen we elkaar nog eens ergens tegen!
        gr
        Geert.

  6. Zarina

    Heey! Ik vind het echt erg leuk om jou blog te lezen. Je doet precies wat ik later ook zou willen doen en worden! Vraagje, hoe zit het met je familie? Steunen ze jou 100% in alles wat je doet, qua acteren, of hebben ze daar twijfels over? Mijn fam. heeft namelijk liever dat eerst mijn school afmaak en een opleiding volg.. Wat aan de ene kant erg begrijpelijk is, omdat ‘the acting industry’ erg hard kan zijn. Ik lees elke keer je blog en ze zijn erg leuk om te lezen, dus ik hoop dat je er lang mee doorgaat:D Heb je trouwens al wat op de vissa problemen gevonden? Ik heb namelijk gehoord dat het erg lastig is om een vissa te krijgen als je daar geen vaste baan hebt.. Ik hoop dat je mijn vragen wilt beantwoorden!

    • Hi Zarina,

      Ik ga even in het Engels zodat iedereen mee kan lezen 😉 It’s funny that you mention that your family had some doubts and really wanted you to finish school because that’s exactly how it was for me. And it was quite hard for me. I actually did finish school, sort of…I attained my Bachelor diploma in Psychology, but was never content studying. I just felt that I didn’t belong there. Actually I will soon post a story on how I finally got my parents to support my acting dream along with everyone else and how you can have that too! So if you want to read more about that, keep a close eye on this site 😉

      About the visa stuff, I’m still busy arranging everything. I’m not at the visa stage yet, but already know how I’m going to do it as you can read here in my post all about the visa trouble: http://bit.ly/hKcEEs

      Good luck to you! Keep me updated, and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

  7. Linda

    Heey,

    Ik vind je blog echt super. Ik wil hetzelfde doel als jouw bereiken.
    Ik ben wel jonger. Hoe heb je in Nederland een managment gevonden?
    Ik bleef maar googlen, maar er komt alleen maar onzin uit.
    Ik wil dit heel graag, het zou super zijn als je me kon helpen =)

    Groetjes & succes!

    ` Linda

  8. Morgan Friesen

    hee! Ik ben echt onder de indruk wat je allemaal al hebt gedaan! helemaal in je eentje naar los angeles is toch best wel spannend! Ik vroeg me af of je een toneel opleiding hebt gedaan en zo ja welke? en hoellang ben je al ongeveer bezig met acteren? ik zelf zou dus precies hetzelfde willen als jij maar ik moet ook eerst even me school afmaken en dan naar amerika ik hoorde dat ze in New York ook een goede school hebben dus dat lijkt me ook gaaf. Heb je uiteindelijk nog iets gehoord van die agency die je had gemaild de laatste keer dat je LA was? want zon agency helpt je aan opdrachten te komen? xxx Morgan

    • Hi Morgan (mooie naam!) Ik heb geen toneelopleiding gedaan, wel verschillende cursusses (zie links!) Ben al vanaf jongs af aan met acteren bezig, maar pas op film sinds een paar jaar.

      Over het agentschap: ik heb zojuist weer gemailed voor het eerst na 2 jaar, we zullen zien!

  9. Hello,You’re officially my super-hero right now lol… Anyway,what is a showreel? How can I do it? I do not really understand it and the only way to be on tv is with the help of Talent Agencies?

  10. Paula

    Hi
    I just randomly found your blog while searching the internet for information about acting and casting calls. My name is Paula and I am from Vienna/Austria. I am 20 yrs. old and I literally woke up a few months ago and decided that I want to pursue acting… It was always a dream of mine yet I did put it on the same scale as trying to become an astronaut. Nevertheless I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I couldn’t stop dreaming about it, so I applied to the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute in NY and after a nerve-wracking period of waiting and fretting (Video-chat-interview included) I got accepted. The recommendation letter was my biggest issue, yet my mother is an author and knows a few people here in Austria, so I got a good one. Afterwards I went to the City and that’s when reality hit me. NYC is terribly expensive and so is the LSI and all in all I found myself in a coffeshop near Central Station, crying. Apartments are awfully expensive, maintaining a life is even harder…My brother who was accompanying me, tried to cheer me up with a half-hearted motivational speech, saying if I want to become an actress it wont matter if I am playing at a local-community theater in Vienna or a big Hollywood movie – I will still find my stability in the art itself and ultimate fulfillment. Now, that may be true yet we all seek for recognition and to be part of something big and spectacular. I am taking acting classes right now and I’ll apply to a very renowned acting school here in Vienna in March – finding an agent is equally difficult here, as it is in London or L.A. – You have to have experience, you have to have a good CV, a Bachelor of Arts if possible or at least know the right people, have the right connections. The acting industry is all about ‘who do you know’ and patronage. My long-term goal is to move to L.A., since its the core and heart of the acting industry, yet I believe that it shall be easier if I manage to establish myself throughout Vienna/Berlin/London first before I set foot into the land of big players, producers, and actors. I find it very brave that you found the courage to just do it, move there and try your luck with a quantum of persistence and preparation, yet one must not forget that you could probably fill the Atlantic Ocean with people who want to establish themselves in the L.A. Area and so few actually manage to climb up the ladder and slowly accomplish their dreams. In my opinion the U.S. is a place where you go when you have already achieved something and just wish to aim even higher. Its a bad place to start out from point zero but I wish you the very best of luck. May all your dreams come true. May you find your own way and I hope this place wont eat you up alive. Many come and many go but only a few actually manage to find their fulfillment over there. I love your blog!!! You are an inspiration to me!!

    Greetings from Vienna

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