An actors' representative or actors' rep is an agent who attempts to negotiate employment contracts on behalf of a professional actor or performer. Like other types of agents, an actors' rep is typically paid on commission, which means that the rep either receives a certain percentage of the actor's wage or an upfront fee. Some reps are self-employed individuals while others work for major acting agencies.
The first step in the career of an actors' rep begins when the rep agrees to represent the business interests of a particular performer. Some reps visit drama schools and attempt to negotiate representation contracts with students who have aspirations to become professional actors. Other reps contact experienced professionals and offer to assist these individuals in finding work. Typically, a successful actors' rep works with a number of different performers although some experienced reps with extensive industry contacts charge large commissions and only represent the interests of a small number of prominent performers.
Television (TV) firms and theater companies often hold open casting calls during which actors are given the opportunity to audition for parts. An actors' rep must find out about any upcoming casting calls and make arrangements for his or her clients to audition at these events. The rep will advise the actors about the nature of the production and may even provide the actor with sample scripts and extracts from other plays that can be read during the audition. Some reps attempt to improve their client's chances of landing a role by proactively contacting the producers or directors either before or after the audition. Many reps create portfolios for their clients that include pictures of the actors and reviews of past productions in which these actors have appeared; these portfolios are sometimes given to casting directors.
While some production companies hold open auditions, many firms prefer to cast productions by offering roles directly to well-renowned actors. In such instances, the casting director normally contacts the actors' rep and provides this individual with details of the production process and the level of pay that the actor can expect to receive. Reps accept or reject offers of work on behalf of their clients. Prior to accepting a role, the rep must negotiate the actor's wages and in some instances, negotiations fall through when a wage cannot be agreed.
Aside from helping performers to find work, an actors' rep is also responsible for promoting his or her clients. This may involve arranging interviews with actors or guest appearances on TV shows. Reps can also negotiate endorsement deals and advertising contracts on behalf of clients although such deals normally involve seasoned professionals rather than inexperienced performers.