Voice-acting tips from
"The Art of Voice Acting Workshop"

How NOT to Get an Agent!

by Chad Gracia (www.actortips.com)

[Editors note: Although the following article was originally meant for theatrical and film actors, many of the concepts Chad talks about apply to obtaining a voice-over agent. You’ll find more information about working with agents and producers in The Art of Voice Acting.]

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A few days ago I received an email from an actor with this headline: "$1000 For Anyone Who Can Get Me An Agent!" Enclosed was a headshot and resume. You may think this shows persistence and ingenuity, but it's a bad approach and it highlights a common problem: many actors waste enormous time and energy by doing the WRONG THINGS. [ed: the same is true for many voice-actors just starting out.]

Getting an agent is like crossing a bridge made out of many sections (a "pontoon bridge" to be precise -- that's a bridge made out of boats such as the one Xerxes used in 480 BC to invade Greece). There is no way to get to the other side if you skip one of the sections. If you try, you'll end up in the river. The good news is that if you follow each step, you've got an excellent chance of reaching the opposite shore.

Let's look at the steps involved in getting an agent. Briefly, they include:

  1. Deciding to become an actor
  2. Training and perfecting your craft
  3. Performing in college or local productions
  4. Getting a headshot
  5. Making your resume
  6. Researching acting opportunities
  7. Writing a cover letter
  8. Mailing your submission
  9. Scheduling your audition
10. Auditioning for the role
11. Following-up with the casting director
12. Negotiating a contract
13. Accepting the offer
14. Rehearsing and preparing for the show
15. Performing in the show
16. Getting reviewed / receiving award
17. Preparing mailing for agent
18. Meeting agent
19. Negotiating contract
20. Accepting representation

If you complete each step, you've got a great chance of reaching your goal. Some you don't completely control (#16. Getting a Review, for instance). Others may seem irrelevant (#9. Scheduling Your Audition), but none are. What's important to remember is not to get discouraged, realize this takes years of hard work, and don't try to skip any steps. [ed: remember, voice-over is really voice-acting, and all forms of acting are part of show-business.]

A friend of mine recently got a glowing review in the New York Times for a play I produced. He spent years studying and performing abroad and five years working the stages here in New York. Once he got this review (and he had completed every step before that), agents started pounding on his door. [ed: for a voice-actor, testimonial “thank-you” letters and quotes from clients can be the equivalent of a review.]

Of course, some people don't need to follow any rules (Evil Knievel, perhaps, could jump our river). If you're one of those lucky stars, then you should just keep on charming your way to the top. But for the other 99% of working actors, your best bet is to cross the bridge one pontoon at a time.

Of course, there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything. For instance, there are guidelines for making a resume and preparing a headshot submission. There are things you must know in order to succeed at an audition. Certain mistakes will prevent you from moving forward.

Actor Tips provides pieces of the puzzle, but it's not possible to fit everything you need to know into a weekly newsletter. That's why I compiled a book, Becoming A Successful Actor. It contains step by step instructions on many of the necessary elements of building an acting career. Most of the chapters are written by professional actors and teachers. It'll help you cross the river.

Reprinted by permission of www.actortips.com (subscribe to the free Actor Tips Newsletter at the website)

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Chad’s book Becoming A Successful Actor contains a wealth of information that can be applied to the craft of voice-acting. If you’re serious about learning this craft, you’ll want to add it to your library, along with my book, The Art of Voice Acting. We wish you much success in your journey “across the river.”

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