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Steps to becoming an Agent in Hollywood

Updated on May 24, 2010

Breaking into the Entertainment Biz

I was a literary agent in Hollywood for 15 years and still have a management company with my husband representing screenwriters and novelists.  Breaking into this business is actually easier than some of the careers in Hollywood.  It helps if you have a film school or business background, but it isn't necessary. I came to Los Angeles at the age of 40 having been a drama teacher and not knowing what I really wanted to do. But based on my experience and knowledge of how others have gotten into this career, I would suggest the following steps.

1. Move to Los Angeles - This is where the business is.Get a job.. any job to pay your bills.

2. Take some initial classes on the film industry (if you haven't already). There are terrific courses offered for very little money at Valley College and other junior colleges in the area. You can also take extension classes at UCLA. (That's what I did when I first came to town.)

3. Do some research - Watch movies, go to screenings, theater, watch ET. Get familiar with who's who currently in the business. Read the Hollywood Reporter and/or Daily Variety. Learn about what's going on in the business so you can talk about it intelligently.

4. Get a temp job - this maybe the single best way to break in! Find out which temp agencies send people to the studios or agencies and sign up with them.

5. Be prepared to start at a very low level. If you can get ANY job at any legitimate agency, take it. Receptionist, mailroom, runner, just get in the door. When I was first starting out, the receptionist at one of the places I worked had a Ph.D. in Psychology!!! I knew lots of M.B.A.'s who started in mailrooms and as runners.

6. Once you get that job. WORK REALLY HARD. That means more than what is expected. If they want you to get their coffee, walk their dog.. do it! Cheerfully!. Eventually they will give you more and better things to do. I put in in 12-14 hour days when I first started at my agency.

7. Get to know other assistants! As you work in the lower levels, you will meet lots of other people at your same level. Befriend them! They will grow up in the business with you. One of my current best friends I met when we both had barely gotten our feet wet. We've remained friends and both achieved V.P. levels at our respective companies at about the same time!

8. Network! Join networking groups! Facebook makes this even easier than it was 20 years ago! But make sure you meet people face to face. Go to lunch, coffee, out for drinks! Make friends.

9. Read the contracts that you will be handling. Learn what goes into them. Watch the successful people and what they do. Listen to how they negotiate.

10. Keep smiling. Perservere. Just keep at it and you can become an agent!

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    • profile image

      PJeanette Marie Littleton 

      4 years ago

      Hi Peggypat:

      Your last comment is good information. Thank You. I would like to keep up with you because I need an Agent. The work seems to be thrilling, because of the journey to get to be an Agent.

      I would like to try to see, your other Social Media.

      With respect PJeanette

    • peggypat profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Patrick Medberry 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Not a bad idea... your MBA is more important for other work you might get in Hollywood... like working at a studio. It won't help with an acting career. However, working at a theater school and learning as much about the craft as you can (and making connections to people who know people ) always helps.. If you see yourself in the film industry in Hollywood, however I would recommend finishing your education out in Los Angeles and taking acting out here.. because it is who you know that will get you the jobs. And you will eventually need to know people out here. You could also do this in New York...as well. Hope this helps.

    • profile image

      Abhilasha 

      6 years ago

      I want o become an actress in hollywood and am doing my B.Sc. Math hons. Would it be a wise decision to go for an MBA from a renowned business school andwork at a theatre/acting school(part time) in boston(if any)and move to LA at 22 after my MBA degree

    • profile image

      Andrew 

      6 years ago

      Since a kid I wanted to be an agent, I have the gift of GAb, I network easily and ppl are naturally drawn to me. As for my dream I am now 32 and as much as I would love to work 14 hour days which if that's what the job requires then you do it with a smile I think my wife would be a bit pissed if I said we were moving. So the dream shall stay a dream for now. Good luck to everyone else. Your list is great and I truly enjoyed reading.

    • profile image

      Mikayla Schwalbe 

      6 years ago

      Please click on the links below to see my dreams. I have been acting and singing since i was 4 and i would love to have a break on this show.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAnatVK2dUU

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_kpECxsRmI

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQg_ZJ7eECk

      714-512-7631

      Thank you, Mikayla

    • peggypat profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Patrick Medberry 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Piyush! I am not sure how difficult it is for a non American... however getting an MBA in marketing is a great strategy. Something that might work for you is to actually start working as an agent in your country and develop some good talent (writers, actors) there and then coordinate with agencies in the US - who are always looking for people when they shoot in other countries. That would get you established there and a great reputation here. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Piyush 

      7 years ago

      Hi Peggy,

      I wanted to enquire how difficult it is for a non american to try and break into this business.

      I have watched a few tv shows and I believe that this job is the right one for me.

      Please tell me what should I be doing, I am planning to come to the US and do an MBA in Marketing for helping me gain that first step.

    • profile image

      IloveHollywood 

      7 years ago

      Dear Madam:

      I want to be a member for Hollywood too. But I haven't had any hope for this. All of your 10 steps are the best but I still don't know how to do.Thanks you.

    • profile image

      Jesudoss 

      8 years ago

      Wow had i known these tips and information some years ago i would have by reached Hollywood for i love to be in this industry. In fact these are most important information and guidelines to any one who dreams to become a successful person in his life ....

      I do read your post often and follow your steps closely thanks for all these information I can pass it on to my youth in India and I am sure it will be useful to them...

      By the way can I suggest a couple of youngsters who are interested in joining your BIOLA for higher studies... How can I help them... is there any scholarship for these poor students...can you share some of these information please

      Thank you

      Jesudoss

    • peggypat profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Patrick Medberry 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you Stina!!! If you need any help .. email me!

    • Stina Sense profile image

      Stina Sense 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Very interesting and useful advice for breaking into Hollywood, your article gives me many great ideas, thank you!

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