I'm an active participant in Stage 32 lounge conversations and I probably watched every single webinar about acting they've put out. In addition to that, I read blogs in every noteworthy online publication. My knowledge about what I write is completely based on what I've seen and what I've heard and not on my own experience. Now, that we're done with the disclaimer, here is my opinion about getting agents.
People often ask - "Should I get an agent even though I'm just starting off?" This is a big question that gets different answers each time it's asked. Statistically I'd say more people say "no" than they say "yes", but you know about statistics, right? If a man walks a dog, statistically everyone has 3 legs. This is not the place to listen to the naysayers. I say go for it. It might be tough if you don't have a reel, close to impossible if you don't even have a great headshot, but you can start looking around while booking your next headshot session, and by the time you land a meeting, you'll be somewhat prepared.
Just like Shia LaBeouf, I always say "just do it". You have nothing to lose and you only increase your chances when you have other people working for you. But remember this... do you know why the agent gets 10% of the cut? Because he does 10% of the work. So don't just sit down and twiddle your thumbs. Keep applying to jobs, keep networking, keep creating content. If you can't get in front of a camera in a short film, do it yourself. Tape monologues, put them on Youtube, connect with some editors and ask them advice on how to make it look better. Having an agent doesn't mean that you only go to the audition he or she sends you to. You gotta work it. Your agent will have your best interest in mind, but also the interest of 30 or 40 other clients who might be qualifying for the same position. Only you have yourself on the top of each list, so do the work, but if you can have an agent help you, do not hesitate and pay no mind to the naysayers. It's a numbers game they say. And that doesn't apply only to landing gigs.
Lastly - remember that your relationship with your agent is never a life-sentence. If you feel like it's not working out, move on and find a new representation. You too can say "no".
Now, the question might be how to find an agent. I'm a huge fan of IMDb. Although I'm not an actor, and I have no credits, I do have an account there as it opens me up to people in the industry or... yes! Their agents!
So what if you have access to people's agents? - you might say. Well, look at it this way, you can easily see if they do the leg work for people like you. For instance, let's say that you live in downtown LA and you're trying to get a walk-in role on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Okay, let's open that up and click "see full cast". Yes - it's a long list, now click CTRL+F (or CMD+F for all you mac lovers out there) and type in current year... 2015
Now I pick a random person. How random? Absolutely random. Jon Baggio and then I find him on the IMDBPro - instantly I can tell that his agent is Tim O'Shea from Origin Talent, and I have his email information and phone number. DONE!
Now I can either do more research about the company or I can send him my reel for review and hope for the best. You can now do this with many agents out there. It just takes a little while to research, but this is your life, your passion. Make time. Make your dreams come true.
Brad C. Amazeballs! Fantastic advice. I had no idea actors do that, but this is insanely awesome.
Kim B. OMG! How come I've never heard of it. I'm getting the pro right now!!!
Tomasz M. Haha, thanks Brad and Kim. Yes - I don't know whether all actors do it, but I think they all should. It's a great research tool for all professions in the film and TV industry.
Julie S. Wow, Jon Baggio probably just got a mention notification. Haha.
Tomasz M. Haha, maybe so. Again, I don't know Jon. This was a totally random pick, just to prove a point. Just look at the current dates so that you know that the agent has recently done work with casting on the show.