In this week’s episode of Casting Frontier’s Bring It! video series, casting veteran James Levine and actor and session director Charles Carpenter discuss the topic of agents.

Levine admits how challenging it can be for an actor to find representation in the highly competitive field of acting. While some agents search for new talent at local theater productions, improv shows, or other venues, Levine says, “Truthfully, it helps to know somebody and have a reference. If you don’t know anybody, I’m more and more an advocate of just getting your brand out there—creating content, getting yourself visible in some ways, so that as you approach an agent, you can show them something.”

Carpenter tells performers, “The days are past of you just being a great actor and sitting and waiting by the phone. You must create your own content, put it out there. Now, I am an advocate of showcasing, getting a monologue ready, getting in front of agents and managers to see your work.”

With all the technological efficiencies available to talent these days like being able to submit self-tapes online, today’s actors no longer need to wait until they have an agent to start their careers. While unrepresented actors are empowered to put themselves out there and can indeed find work, Levine and Carpenter agree it’s better to have an agent. Levine explains:

“Now it’s the wild west out there, and people are self-submitting on all formats, and there are a lot of opportunities for people out there to direct submit and generate their own work. Ultimately, you need someone to protect you. You need someone to guard your interests as an actor and negotiate for you. That’s the bottom line. So you do need representation at a certain point.”

But it’s important to keep a proper perspective about the nature of the actor-agent relationship. Sometimes actors are so eager to gain representation, they forget agents are employed by actors—not the other way around. As Levine puts it, “When you’re working, they’re your employee; they take a certain percentage of your work. And if you don’t work together, you’re not getting opportunities, then find another agent.”

An aspiring actor never knows when the opportunity to audition before an agent will arise. Therefore, Carpenter suggests actors always have a monologue prepared just in case. Professionalism is key, so it’s important to be as polished as possible right from the start.

Also, while agents represent actors in finding work, actors represent the reputation of talent agencies as they make their auditioning rounds. The more a performer shines, the more the agency shines, so maintain a professional attitude both inside and outside the audition room. Agents hear through the grapevine when their actors are causing trouble at auditions. It makes them look bad when their actor, for example, dominates the whole bathroom with hair, makeup and wardrobe supplies, smokes in a non-smoking area, bad talks the casting director, or uses their cell phone in the audition room.

Determined to help actors cut through the mystery associated with the casting process, James Levine authored an enlightening book entitled Bring It! along with Charles Carpenter and Jim Martyka, which will be released digitally in the near future. In the book, Levine shares helpful audition information from the vantage point of a casting director as it relates to commercial, film and television acting. The book’s chapters correspond to the Bring It! YouTube series.

Casting Frontier’s YouTube channel publishes weekly video tips, tricks, best practices, interviews with industry professionals and more. Stay tuned next week to watch the eighth episode of the Bring It! with James and Charles. Or better yet, subscribe to the channel so you know as soon as the next episode is out!