Best Talent Agencies for Representation in 2017
The best way to be a top billing actor is to have a strong agent representing you. Every single one of those power agents will belong to at least one of the top agencies listed below.
Why these rankings matter? A top talent agency submits their actors to the world’s largest productions and stays in touch with casting directors that are key players.
This is why every budding actor makes it one of their primary goals to be signed by these talent agencies. If you’re successful, more often than not, your career and life will change.
Getting signed by a top talent agency is not easy. And worse, new actors don’t even know what are the top talent agencies in charge of this business.
In this article, we will list the top ten talent agencies for 2017 to be represented by. Just remember that lists are always debatable and open to personal opinion. As the time goes by, “rankings” of these talent agencies change (but not by much).
Can I get signed by ones of these top talent agencies? Other actors have been signed by top talent agencies before, so it’s definitely possible.
One of my friends has recently inked a contract with CAA just because he had was seen in a minor role in a popular movie. But this scenario is not common.
Ultimately, it’s very difficult to get attention from a top talent agency. They already have a huge roster of clients whom they need to attend to, and more hot and new talent continuously flocking to them.
Do these rankings really matter? Besides the fact that the more you know about the industry you’re in, the better you will be able to navigate within it.
There are many good reasons to be aware of the top talent agencies. One good reason is potential connections and keeping tabs on everybody in Hollywood.
Q: “So if it’s difficult to get signed, how can this list of top talent agencies even help me? It’s pointless.“
That’s true; I did mention it’s difficult. But did not say it was impossible. Keep working at it, and occasionally try your luck with any of them; you never know. Actors that are serious about their acting career in Hollywood are all aware of who the biggest wolves are in this forest. However, once you are signed it is important to be diligent and work at it with your agent. The old days of just sitting back once you sign with an agent is over. Nowadays you need to also work at finding opportunities as well.
Remember agents are deal makers and there to look out for you, that’s why talent need them. It is important to remember your agent doesn’t need you, you need them since there is always another actor or talent willing to walk through their door and sign with them. So make your self a valued talent, perfect your acting, work on your social media pages and develop a website. This will make you stand out to your current and prospective agent. This will also encourage them to sign you and also spend time on your file. Also, give them a reason why they would want to work with you, just because you signed with them is not an excuse enough, check in with your agent from time to time, let them know what you have been up to, stay on their radar.
As you already figured out if you are in the industry, it is important to know who the players in the industry are if you’re hoping to one-day work with them. Knowledge is power, and networking is vital in this industry.
Top Talent Agencies for Representation (2017)
Below we list 2017’s top ten talent agencies that have Hollywood’s biggest names on their rosters: actors, directors, screenwriters, and other showbiz folk. We have not ranked them by size as we feel that is not a true indicator of industry strength nowadays. So we ranked them by the quality of staff, clients and influence in the entertainment industry. Keep in mind that this is a list of agencies for theatrical representation (film, television, webisodes).
As the entertainment market continues to change and grow it is important to know who the best talent agencies are. I wish to thank my fellow entertainment reporters at BuzzFeed for their work with us to compile this list. These are our joint 2017 list of the top 10 talent agencies to be represented by.
If you are a follower of this industry list you will again find agencies that have been on the list for years, some fallen off and some new ones have been added since our last listing.
Top 10 talent agencies for representation (2017)
1. William Morris Endeavor (WME)
About the agency: The product of a merger between William Morris Agency and Endeavor, WME is not only a top talent agency but also the largest talent agency in the top 10.
Originally, William Morris Agency and The Endeavor Talent Agency worked separately, when the two entities merged in April of 2009, they became a powerhouse agency.
Today, WME represent talent in every arena: movies, TV, music, theatre, digital and publishing, and even the NFL. It occupies a solid first position on my list of top talent agencies for the last few years. WME is strong globally, which gives it a slight advantage over CAA (listed below).
2. Creative Artists Agency (CAA)
About the agency: Creative Artists Agency, which is known more commonly as CAA. CAA has a roster full of the high-profile actors; CAA is the upmost tier for actors seeking a big break into acting.
The agency got its start in 1975 when five agents joined together in Century City. They were without significant funding and relied on folding tables and chairs to win their first clients. Within its first week, CAA sold three packages, one of which was The Jackson Five.
As changes occurred and CAA grew even greater, its celebrity clientele expanded too. The agency came to represent nearly 1,500 of the top actors in Hollywood. It’s unlikely that CAA will leave its position as one of top talent agencies anytime soon.
3. International Creative Management (ICM)
About the agency: International Creative Management is known for representing talented comedians and stars of both film and TV. It’s been one of the top talent agencies in for a while.
Although it may be better known for foreign films rather than U.S. blockbusters, it’s a firm in competition with CAA and WME for the best of the best. Founded in 1975 when Creative Management Associates and International Famous Agency merged into one single agency, ICM has grown immensely.
Just recently, in 2012, the agency gained a new name and a new partnership. It’s been one of the top talent agencies on my list for years. Whether it’s acting, or live performance, or literary publishing, or branded entertainment is what you’re after, ICM deals with these divisions and more.
4. United Talent Agency (UTA)
About the agency: One of Hollywood’s long-lasting and reputable talent agencies, United Talent Agency represents both actors and filmmakers who seek to break into the competitive entertainment scene. Another household name, UTA has been one of top talent agencies on my list for quite some time.
If you’re a director, actor, or even producer, you should keep your eye on UTA. As one of the largest agencies the world, UTA hosts over 200 agents who represent talent that ranges from movies and TV to below the line talent and video games.
When it first began, UTA formed as the result of a merger between the Bauer-Benedek and Leading Artists Agencies. It appears that mergers are a trend among agencies in Hollywood.
Once under the name of a single company, UTA took off and garnered immense success as its first packages included The Simpsons and The Wonder Years. Over the years, UTA has grown into a huge creative powerhouse agency for talent domestically.
5. Paradigm Talent Agency
About the agency: Paradigm is a top talent agency known for fostering the careers of independent film stars. If starting your career off in a Sundance-based film sounds enticing, one-day Paradigm may be the top talent agency for you.
With offices scattered throughout the United States, Paradigm hosts more than 150 different agents who each represent a great variety of talent. They have their toes dipped in movies, television, music and live performance, comedy, endorsements, and many more divisions.
In recent years, the agency has expanded significantly into the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) arena by joining forces with the EDM talent agency AM Only. Now they represent stars like Skrillex and David Guetta, further establishing it as one of the top talent agencies.
Just two years ago, Paradigm grew its representation and influence within the music industry, even more, when it acquired half of the U.K.’s Coda Music Agency. Today, Paradigm is one of the most varied and versatile agencies in domestically.
6. CK Talent Management (CK)
About the agency: They are the newest on our list, CK Talent is known throughout the industry as CK, they are the smaller of the agencies in the top 10, but that’s because of their choosing and does not make them any less powerful than the others on the list. They are supremely successful and featuring a host of famous talent, it’s an agency known for taking young actors and turning them into professional actors. The agency describes itself as an agency with a distinctive niche; one that offers its talent very personalized representation and service.
Generally, they’re known as one of the most desired talent agencies to be represented by, and their roster of clients is no less impressive than those on the top five listed above. We note that CK Talent has become known for one quality in particular: excellent service and advocacy for those it represents. I’ve also heard Talent say good things about them too.
According to several articles about the agency, clients come first at this agency (one should hope so), and the agents themselves build strong relationships with those they represent. Finally, remember that an agency like this who has leverage in the industry but isn’t as big, may be the best deal. Though be warned, it is the toughest of the agencies on the list to get into, they have a tough evaluation process and some of the talent that apply are waitlisted.
7. Agency for the Performing Arts (APA)
About the agency: If you wish to do comedy or music on top of your acting career goals, the Agency for the Performing Arts is the perfect fit.
Founded in the year 1962 by agents who left MCA, APA has become known for its roster of famous comedians, a metal band like Judas Priest and Poison, and major motion picture actors.APA has been steadily holding its position as one of top talent agencies for a long time.
With a roster of divisions that includes every media platform, APA represents talent in film, television, theatre, and even digital publishing, to name a few.
If you’re an up and coming star who hopes to turn your dreams into a worldwide lifestyle brand, APA is the perfect agency to keep tabs on. The team is familiar with building and selling brands like the Kardashians, Bombardier, and Marriott, which should tell you something.
8. The Gersh Agency
About the agency: Known throughout Hollywood as TGA and Gersh, The Gersh Agency is a family affair. Supremely successful and featuring a host of famous talent, it’s an agency know for taking young actors and turning them into professional actors.Created by Phil Gersh in 1949, Gersh has grown since its first years in the world of literary and talent representation.
Today, the agency boasts more than 100 employees, 60 agents, making it yet another strong competitor among all other top talent agencies.
Gersh is a top talent agency that is strong enough to be considered one of the powerhouses in Hollywood. However, because they do not meet some of our other criteria, I had to place it down here.
9. Abrams Artists Agency (AAA)
About the agency: A Hollywood staple since its inception in 1977, Abrams Artist Agency represents actors in every realm of the entertainment industry. They’re good for theater, animated film and television, TV, radio, commercials, and even event hosting. It’s a top talent agency that’s enjoyed a fantastic reputation since its creation.
Over its decades working in the entertainment industry, Abrams Artists Agency has made its name by becoming one of the most diversified talent agencies.
With so many different divisions, including a literary division and a currently growing and increasingly popular youth division, there’s truly a niche for everyone within Abrams.
10. Buchwald & Associates
About the agency: Last one on our list of top talent agencies, but by no means least is Buchwald and Associates, Inc. Buchwald was launched by Don Buchwald and five associates in 1977.
Their original niche was commercials they are now a very strong theatrical agency representing some big stars in Hollywood.
With DBA’s constant signing of bigger names, this agency is quickly climbing up the ranks, and will likely be a lot higher in my 2018’s top talent agencies list update. I’ve seen and heard actors and filmmakers discuss the agency far more often in 2017 than it was back in 2013. So if you get an offer from these guys, do not shy away (does this beg a “duh”?)
There are certainly a lot of other talent agencies that I know of. As you recognize a few of the names like ICM, WME or CAA are so-called “celebrity agencies.” But most of these agencies (and many others not listed here) will work hard enough to get you out. It’s likely that all of them have connections with the same casting directors, so as I mentioned above it will all come down to you personally: your work ethic and your talent.