The best acting agencies of 2022

Acting agencies represent actors to help them find work they wouldn’t otherwise book on their own, including films, TV shows, industrials, print ads, voice-overs, theater plays, commercials, and more. When casting directors and producers submit projects to an agent, the agent submits actors for auditions who fit the criteria provided in the project specs.

The best acting agencies of 2022 should be on your go-to list when aiming to secure new gigs.

Actor agents also negotiate on behalf of their talent to help them get higher pay for gigs and secure contracts. Agents provide a level of protection for actors to ensure their contracts cover specific terms, including travel, lodging, safety, buyout terms, and more.

The goal of any working actor is to secure a contract with a talent agent. There are many talent agencies available to choose from. Below are some of the top agencies to consider, though most require some years of experience and referrals for consideration.

The exceptions are Central Casting, which represents background actors, and Boals, Winnett & Associates, which often signs near-beginners.

Top actor agents

Comedic female actor on stage in vintage wide red hat, gloves and beads, seated as she speaks in an exaggerated, emotional way into an old-fashioned telephone.
“What’s your motivation? My 20 percent, dahling!”

Creative Artists Agency

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) is a Los Angeles-headquartered agency founded in 1975. With offices throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe, CAA represents some of the most high-profile talent in the industry. As one of the best overall talent agencies available, it has over 2,000 employees to support its talent. CAA does not accept cold call submissions and only works with referrals and more established actors.

William Morris Endeavor

William Morris Endeavor (WME) is the result of a 2009 merger between William Morris Agency and Endeavor. WME was a Los Angeles-based agency founded in 1898. It has offices in Beverly Hills, Nashville, Sydney, London, and New York City, with a total of 1,000 employees to support its talent. Similar to CAA, WME represents some of the world’s most high-profile talent. WME does not accept cold call submissions and only works with referrals and more established actors.

Central Casting

First established in 1925, Central Casting has been in business for nearly 100 years and has offices in Los Angeles, New York, Georgia, and Louisiana. Founded out of necessity to provide jobs to some 30,000 background actors in Los Angeles in the 1920s, it still offers the largest database of background actors available to the industry. To work with Central Casting, simply complete their online application to be added to their database.

Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates

Originally founded in 1957 in Los Angeles as The Wormser Agency, Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates (KMR) now has offices in Los Angeles, New York City, and Atlanta. KMR prioritizes on- and off-Broadway theater roles over film and TV roles. However, the agency does represent talent for the latter roles, as well as voice-overs and commercials. It also has a special division dedicated to talent with disabilities. Most of KMR’s talent comes from referrals, though materials submitted by mail will be considered.

Gersh Agency

Phil Gersh founded the Gersh Agency in 1949 in Beverly Hills. The agency is now run by Gersh’s two sons and has offices in Beverly Hills and New York City. The Gersh Agency is known for representing big names in the industry and helping up-and-coming talent land their big breaks. Industry referrals are required to sign with the Gersh Agency.

Boals, Winnett & Associates

Boals, Winnett & Associates (BWA) works with up-and-coming film, TV, and Broadway talent. The New York-based agency was founded in 2002. BWA is known for helping beginners build their resumes, book jobs in well-known productions, and secure auditions. BWA accepts actor submissions by email, mail, and conducts interviews by appointment.

How does a talent agency get paid?

Actors generally aspire to become members of the SAG-AFTRA union, which can help them book better gigs and comes with union protection. For union-represented talent, acting agencies typically receive 10% to 15% of the talent’s income. For non-union talent, the fee secured can be up to 20% on average.

Outdoors female actor stares at the camera through an open movie clapperboard held in front of her at a slight distance.
Actors can be insecure, but securing an agent helps.

Tips for securing an actor agent

To sign with a major talent agent, you’ll need to showcase your acting ability and experience. Below are some tips to help you on the path to signing with a prominent talent agent:

Build your resume. Gain experience by working on smaller jobs, like independent films and commercials that recruit through casting sites and job boards. Such experience can show you have acting chops and the know-how to work on a set.

Sign with a smaller, regional agency. There are several reputable regional agencies in cities like Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans. It’s wise for actors to secure contracts with a reputable regional talent agency to begin building their resumes. Some smaller agencies have connections with larger agencies and can offer referrals to them as well.

Create a demo reel. A demo reel showcases your work experience from films, TV shows, commercials, and more. When you work on a job, you can request a copy of your work to use for a demo reel. If you don’t have work available to showcase, you can work with a demo reel agency to create scenes and build a demo reel that showcases your talent.

Network. Many agencies require referrals to be considered for representation. By building a network of entertainment professionals, you’ll be setting yourself up for future success by establishing your own industry connections.

Book background work. When you’re just starting out, you can book background work to include on your resume. Doing so shows you’ve at least worked on a set and have ambition. Working as a background actor also allows you to learn by watching the principal actors, directors, and crew work.

Secure SAG-AFTRA eligibility. The largest union that represents actors is referred to as SAG-AFTRA. For SAG-AFTRA eligibility, talent must either have been employed for one day with a principal or speaking role on a project covered by a SAG-AFTRA collective bargaining agreement, or have secured three days of employment as a background worker on such a project.

Once a member becomes SAG-eligible, they can choose to join the union or wait. Being SAG-eligible shows you are serious and have worked as an actor in some capacity.

Create viral internet videos. Agencies want to book talent that can connect with the public. There has been a surge in internet talent and influencers in recent years. For those who have a lot of followers, it is possible for companies that book them to make money through ads. As a result, agencies often seek out internet talent and influencers to represent, which can lead to roles in film, TV, and more.

Take acting classes. Even the most experienced actors continue to hone their skills. Work on your acting chops to help you secure jobs and network with other actors. It also looks good to list training on your acting resume.

Begin working as an actor at your current location

Though there was a time when actors only had the option to move to Los Angeles or New York City to pursue their dreams of acting, many actors are now able to work on projects outside of New York and Los Angeles. Before moving to Los Angeles or New York, many experts suggest you wait and build some experience at your current location. After all, it’s often better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond, as they say.