So your child has been accepted onto a top children’s agency? Great news! Now take a moment to step back and look at how you know that it is a top agency. Is it because they have told you so? Or have you heard this from people who work within the industry?
Not to discredit any child (or indeed adult) that gains representation from any agency, but do take a moment to evaluate whether they are legit. No one wants to put their purse in danger or worst of all their child.
Below is a list of things to look out for when it comes to considering representation:
• Has the agency asked for any money? They may ask you to pay for a number of things; such as photos. Paying for photos is fairly standard; however a legitimate agency should have the photos taken and then deduct the cost of these from the child or the client’s first pay cheque. Alternatively, they should not insist that you should use ‘their’ photographer but you should have the freedom to use whichever you would like. Secondly, if there are agency fees, this should be a huge warning sign. No real agency will ask for upfront fees (again they may take a cut of the first pay cheque to cover some admin), do not hand over any money due to the promise of fame and guaranteed work- no agent can guarantee work for anyone- if someone says they can then walk away quickly!
On the other hand; don’t be confused with being asked to pay for Spotlight fees- Spotlight is the largest casting database of all actors and performers and is used extensively throughout the industry. All legitimate agents will have their clients on the spotlight database and this is normally something which you will have to pay for.
• Commission: Check the amount of commission that the agent will take from any bookings. Up to around 25% is fairly expected for children’s agencies.
• Terms and Conditions: Most agencies will have you sign a contract. Check the small print so that you don’t get caught out! For example; is there an exclusivity clause (can you sign up with more than one agency?) Also check whether or not they will still expect to take a commission if you find your child paid work yourself (as opposed to the agent doing so).
• Does the agency have a website? Do google the agency in question! Find out what others say about them but also see whether they have their own website. Also, is it secure? Ask yourself whether you want any Tom, Dick and Harry to be able to see your child’s photo, name, age, date of birth, area they live etc or whether you would prefer to go with an agency whereby these details are password protected and only given out to specific people.