How to Send an Unsolicited Submission

Getting an agent/manager is an often tricky thing. Although most boutique-level companies have a pretty open submission policy (usually consisting of mailing/emailing your submission package), pretty much every upper-tier company (the places that you want to get into) have the dreaded “no unsolicited submissions” policy. In case you’re new to the acting world, when a talent company says, “no unsolicited submissions,” it means they do not accept any kind of actor query or package unless they request it, or if it comes through a referral (more on this later).

This then raises a common question amongst actors–How do you go about finding a good agent/manager when all these companies don’t take unsolicited submissions? Granted, you can always aim for boutique-level companies that will accept unsolicited material, but why settle if you don’t have to? Getting a good agent/manager is a serious step in any actors’ career, and should never be done lightly. If you want to learn how to get your materials seen by a “big” company, check out the following secret tips:

It’s All About the Referral

Unsolicited literally means “not asked for”, but in the entertainment industry, this term is more closely associated with “unknown sender”.  Fun fact: agents and managers are almost always willing to look at an actor’s materials if they are sent by someone they know, regardless if these materials were solicited or not by the rep. Believe it or not, talent reps are pretty much always on the lookout for new talent–they just prefer that their potential clients come to them via already established connections and relationships, rather than trusting in unknown, unsolicited submissions. This is a key example of the idiom, “Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t,” and Hollywood readily embodies this. Long story short, if you want to send an unsolicited submission to an agent/manager, just find someone to send your materials on your behalf!

Using Your Agent/Manager

This is a no-brainer. If you currently have one type of rep (either an agent or manager), asking them to help you secure another rep is the obvious choice (if you don’t, also check out our article on Doing the Impossible: Getting an Agent). Agents/managers all have other reps that they enjoy working and sharing clients with, and should be readily able to come up with names and suggestions of people and companies that would make good additions to your team. Using your current rep in this process is not only logical, but highly recommended. In a good actor-rep relationship, it’s crucial to be open and honest about all aspects of your career, and adding another rep to your team is one of those topics. Your rep will be able to  help you assess whether or not you actually need another member for your team, and if so, which companies would be the best fit for you.

Trying to find an additional rep for your team without the consultation of your current one is ill-advised, and can actually hurt your reputation. Why would you go through the trouble of finding another rep to add to your team if you don’t even feel comfortable approaching your current one for advice? That fact in and of itself is a definite telltale sign that there are some existing issues between you and your rep that need to be looked at.  Here’s a good anecdote from the representation side of this: as a manager, I often get unsolicited email submissions from actors. Before archiving these emails, I usually skim through them for about a second (force of habit, mainly). Recently, while skimming through one of these emails, I noticed that the actor listed that he had a theatrical agent . . . an agent that I not only know, but actually share several clients with. When I saw this tidbit of information, the first thought that came to my mind was, “If this actor was truly talented and actually working with the agent he listed, why hasn’t the agent contacted me directly to set up a meeting to discuss representation?” My next move was to then email that agent, and his response to me was what I expected–this agent did indeed represent the actor in question, but he honestly considered this actor a “problem client”, and definitely not someone I should represent, let alone meet.

Acting Teachers, Coaches, and Casting Directors

If you don’t already have an agent or manager, don’t fret; there are still plenty of other people you can turn to for a referral. Many new actors probably don’t realize this, but asking people like your acting coach or teacher to help you find a rep readily bears fruit. Acting coaches and teachers often have close relationships with agents and managers, and can readily refer and send your actor materials out on your behalf. First and foremost, reps are always on the lookout for actors that can actually act, so a referral from someone familiar with your acting is a natural route to explore. Casting directors, especially high profile ones, also carry heavy clout with agents/managers, and are also an excellent source for referrals. Obviously, most acting teachers and casting directors will only refer your materials and vouch for your talent if they actually believe in you and your abilities, so whether or not they actually choose to help you is very much contingent on these factors.

Other Sources: Lawyers, Publicists, Producers, and Actor Friends

This final set of people, although not always ideal, can also help you find an agent or manager. Not surprisingly, lawyers and publicists that work with actors also have solid relationships with agents and managers, and both sides often refer clients to one another. Even though actor-rep relationships have definitely been formed through these types of referrals, these are more uncommon. Most actors that have lawyers/publicists already have solid theatrical representation, so the concept of asking your publicist or lawyer to help find you a new agent/manager is slightly irregular.

Similarly, asking a producer to help you find a theatrical rep is a bit unique, but not unheard of. Obviously, only fairly name-y and established producers (think studio heads) will carry major clout when talking you up to a prospective agent/manager, and most companies will readily accept your materials based on that fact alone. This situation is unique because not every actor out there is “best buds” with an A-list producer, but if you do happen to fall under this category, and are comfortable approaching your producer friend for help, then more power to you! Finally, asking your actor friends (who happen to have representation) can also be a good referral source. Besides for passing your materials on, that actor friend can give you the inside scoop to the company, and whether or not they might be a good fit for you.

Respect the Referral

At the end of the day, even though there is a plethora of people you can turn to for an agency/manager referral, you should always do so sparingly, and with the utmost respect. Even if you are in dire need of an agent/manager, don’t go around and bug every person you know in entertainment to help find you a rep–people in this business almost never respond to that level of desperation, and will be less inclined to help you. Asking someone to pass your materials on to an agent/manager is no simple matter; you are asking that person to risk their reputation to vouch on your behalf, to stick their neck out for you. Even though there’s nothing wrong with asking your peers for a referral, more often than not, if you are truly talented and dedicated, someone familiar with your work will gladly talk you up to an agent/manager. Some will do so without you even asking!

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  1. Posted August 9, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Getting someone that’s already in the industry to send in your application is a great idea. Like you mentioned, if someone the casting agent knows, they are more likely to look at it. It may help to get acquainted with people in the industry so you’ll always have an in.

  2. Posted September 11, 2018 at 2:35 am | Permalink

    Hey! I’m at work browsing your blog from my
    new iphone 3gs! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!

    Keep up the great work!

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