So you want to be on the television and the big question is:
How do I get an agent?
Probably with as much difficulty as you will have getting on the telly. Agents want clients who have the potential to make them money. No point being in the business otherwise! They will be looking for presenters and experts with television potential so if you catch an agent you are doing well.
There are big agencies who have many clients to represent and small ones who may concentrate on a few, select people. Some may focus on a particular type of talent – ie comedy or actors – others that may take on all types. Find out who they represent and whether you might fit into their stable of talent.
There are ‘Rottweiler’ agents and warm and cuddly agents. Personally I prefer dealing with the latter but the tough ones will no doubt be good at protecting your interests!
Obviously you are going to need to sell yourself to them, so check out the advice in previous articles about getting yourself noticed (http://wanttoworkintelevision.wordpress.com/category/presenting-on-television/) . Then send out your details, try and get a face-to-face meeting and if one person says no, move on to the next!
Do you need an agent?
Well if you are good at selling yourself, have a reasonably thick skin and contacts in the business then you could maybe do it yourself. However a good agent has a bulging contact book, has spent years building up strong relationships with producers and TV executives, and has a much better chance of securing you a meeting with those that matter. He or she should also have a good idea on how to develop your skills and be able to suggest a strategy for raising your profile. A good agent will also steer you away from jobs that won’t help your long-term career. Not all TV jobs are good for you!
But enough from me; let’s hear from the experts.
Seamus Lyte is an agent I have dealt with over many years. He set up his own agency and represented the likes of loveable TV presenter Keith Chegwin and weathergirl Sian Lloyd. His company is now merged with ROAR, a large global agency that represents TV, sport, music and acting talent. Their clients include Myleene Klass, Lorraine Kelly and one of my favourite up-and-coming talents, Jeff Brazier.
Seamus kindly agreed to answer some questions:
How would you describe the role of an agent in television?
To further the careers of our clients.
The agent needs to be a top diplomat, the chief negotiator, have a lawyers head and a PA’s organisational skills.
How do you find your clients, or do they find you?
Occasionally you will see someone who is perfect and approach them, but more often than not it’s via an enquiry and a lot of the time from word of mouth and referral.
What do you look for in a TV presenter or expert?
Some who is appealing on screen. Someone who knows who they are and what their brand is – when you know who you are, an Agent has a much better chance of finding an angle that will sell. Ambition and hunger in the right measure.
What would an aspiring presenter or expert have to do to convince you they should be on your books?
They would have to have something unique about them as well as, I hope, an expertise, or even an idea with such unique access and angles that you can manage the whole package. When it comes to a known talent, they need to understand where they fit and how we can make it happen together.
What is the most challenging thing about being an agent?
Getting your client the work they want in a time when we have seen the platforms multiply and the amount of competition in terms of talent morph unprecedentedly. As an agent you have to believe in your client more than anyone else, and you have to be representing the hottest talent available to you. As important is you MUST know everyone in the broadcast industry you can…and know when they move.
What is the best/most rewarding thing that has happened to you as part of your job?
Honestly, seeing clients achieve a job, or piece of work you know meant more to them than just a job.
How does anyone who fancies being a Talent Agent get into the business?
The old way- it certainly still happens in the larger agencies, especially in the US, that the most common route is to work your way up from the post room. The biggest agents I have met worked that way.
By recommendation is also good. I researched and wrote to around 10 agents who met with me and I was lucky. Your letter of introduction is key. Do NOT be generic. Know WHO you are writing to, and ALL about the company.
Thank you, Seamus!
Seamus Lyte is a Director and agent at ROAR Global Limited – www.roarglobal.com (formerly owner of Seamus Lyte Management Ltd which has merged with ROAR).
Coming up next on this site, an interview with one of the most experienced agents I know, Dave Warwick, the man who made Rick Astley a global star, PLUS a list of talent agencies to get you started. Subscribe if you don’t want to miss it!
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