"You won't be made a star overnight."
Kimberly Taylor, owner of KTA Talent Group in the southeast, with a heavy focus on the states of Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana, says that being close to her clients is important to her. That's also what makes a good agent, she says.
"I make myself available as much as possible to them. Some of these actors are closer with me than their managers, even. I help with management stuff a lot, too," says Kim.
In fact, if there is a lack of communication between an agent and client, she says to consider that a red flag.
"Communication is most important and honesty, too. An agent should be helping their client get better."
Kim works in her home office every day, joined by her two dogs Cash and Canon, communicating with clients from near to far. While her focus is on the southeast, she has clients and gets breakdowns from New York and L.A as well.
"I have people from anywhere and everywhere," she says. "It's harder when they aren't local but it's still doable."
Kim says a current trend right now is that most casting directors are looking for true local actors when filming, rather than accepting actors who say they are local to an area but have to travel there to film.
"It's getting harder to work here unless you're actually living in the southeast because we have such a good talent pool here," she says.
Kim started as a talent manager in L.A.
"My kids were in the business, and I really learned it just by trial and error," she says.
Kim, having been both agent and manager in her career, says there is a big difference between the two roles.
"The biggest difference between an agent and a manager is really just the number of clients they have," she says. However, Kim says that she acts as both to her clients.
"I treat my clients like I'm a manager. The industry has changed a lot. I don't see managers doing the same things anymore for their clients like I used to do. My clients who have managers still ask me to go through their headshots and resumes and help coach them."
And when it comes to agencies, she says some may be SAG-franchised and some may be non-union, but the work is still the same.
The main different between the two is whether or not they have a building.
"Otherwise, I can still write contracts and my SAG clients are still protected by the union. Some agents, if they aren't SAG, they can charge whatever percentage they want, but I make sure to just charge 10% across the board," she says.
What Do Agents Look At?
When looking at potential clients, Kim wants to see a good reel.
"It helps when I see T.V or union credits on a resume, too,but it's not necessary. At least having a reel puts those actors above actors who don't have any media. Casting directors want to see those actors first," she says.
Another important factor she considers before taking on a client is their personality.
"I want to make sure their expectations are level. I don't want people coming to me from L.A expecting to blow everyone out of the water. That's just not the case," she says.
Kim also considers how hard the potential client is willing to work.
"I give 200% and I want to make sure this person is worthy of that, that I'm going to want to work really hard for someone. I'm not going to deal with someone negative or dramatic. My company is small and like a family, so if someone is going to be too high maintenance I just wouldn't work with them," she says.
Parents also must have good expectations, and it helps when they already know some of the business, which is why it's good for kids to have a manager, she says.
The Acting Mediums
"We work on everything: commercials, theater, film, television, voiceovers-- everything," Kim says.
She says that she can tell after working with a client if they are going to do better in one medium over another.
"If I have a kid or adult who has a lot of energy and is over-the-top and can sing or dance, I think they'll do better in theater and I'll send them more of those roles. If someone is more grounded and real then I give them more tv and film. And everyone can do commercials," she says.
For commercials, Kim says that casting directors really look for someone who is outgoing and can follow directions well. And, of course, matches the "look" that the casting director is looking for.
Watch Our For Scams (And Watch Your Mouth)
Kim says to do your research before meeting with an agent.
"Google them, check out their social media, and make sure they're legit. Anybody that asks you to pay upfront for anything is totally a scam," she says.
Kim also says that she doesn't like the radio programs that some companies runs, such as Disney, that give false hope.
"You're not going to become a star overnight."
And for actors, it's very important to be careful what you post on social media, she says.
"I recently had to drop an actor because I saw him trash-talking a casting director on Facebook. That's not cool with me. I don't want anyone associated with my company to be doing that in public."
"Usually, and especially in L.A, you'll do a scene with the agent, so prepare a scene or have a monologue ready. You also need to have professional headshots ready too," says Kim.
She also says that for kids, it's okay to not have professional shots, but definitely have some close-ups of their face and a full body shot.
"For me, it really is personality. Especially with kids. They can't be too shy. And what's funny is that red-heads are expected to have big energy."
Kim says that keeping a child down-to-earth and grounded is important as well.
In agent meetings, be prepared to know if you can travel for auditions and if you're ready for self-tapes at your home.
"One of the first things I ask is about their availability to travel, because here in the southeast you have to travel at least two hours or more for most auditions. And for self-tapes, it's something that casting directors want to see a lot, but if they can see you in person they'd rather do that," says Kim.
Another thing Kim says to be ready to answer is your limitation on nudity, same-gender sex, and other decisions. She also asks actors to talk about their special skills.
"Overall I just try and find out how much they want to do this, and if they're financially able to travel. I just don't want to waste anyone's time or my own."
Resume and Headshots
"For the headshots, it's all about the eyes for me. I want to see the eyes pop, that's very important to me. Also, not too much editing. It's got to be who you are every day."
And for the resume, Kim says that having the proper formatting shows professionalism, as do some other aspects to a resume.
"I do look for network stuff, it grabs my eye. I'm also really into indie films so I like seeing that. If you've got L.A or NYC training, that says a lot to me as well."
However, even if an actor doesn't have a full resume of experience, Kim says that she would still consider them.
"If I can see that someone has talent and potential, I would definitely still consider taking them on as a client."
The Right Way To Network
To stay in touch with other casting directors, agent and managers, Kim recommends social media as a number one way to stay on their radar.
"Social media is nice cause you can follow them. Some actors follow me and I'll look and see what they're doing and keep them on my mind for representation that way if they're not already represented," she says.
Keeping agents updated with postcards highlighting their recent successes is another great way to keep them updated, she says.
It Takes Time
"It takes time and if you're the type of person to give up easily, this is not for you."
Kim says that it's beneficial for actors to have other hobbies to take their minds off of acting.
Her number one rule? Don't compare yourself to others.
"Our motto is 'do you'. I believe that when you compare yourself, it's a joy-robber. It'll drive you crazy. In this business , it can come down to how you look 90% of the time. But there's only one you. And there's no one way to pursue this career."