From time to time you may have read or heard that you need an "acting agent" to succeed in the entertainment industry.
But, really, what is an acting agent? Well, honestly, there really is no such thing as an "Acting Agent". Typically, the correct term for an agent would be a Talent Agent. There are tons of talent agencies, and as the Screen Actors Guild asserts, the difference between a good actor and a great actor is the talent agent.
Talent agents are professionals have an inside edge on film, theater and television industry. They are the middle-men between casting director and you, the actor. Typically, a good agent is well-versed in the project they are submitting you for and for which auditions you, their client, will be best suited for.
That being said, there is also no such thing as a "casting agent" --The right word would be "casting director". Many people confuse the differences between talent agents and casting directors. Producers and directors hire casting directors to find actors for their projects. With so many actors in the entertainment industry, the casting director will contact a talent agent to submit their talents they believe is best suited for that particular audition and role.
If you do not have a large resume, your talent agent will probably pitch you by email or phone, telling the casting director why you are a perfect fit for that particular role, hence, a perk in having an agent. If the casting director agrees you are right for the part, the casting director will contact your talent agent with an audition appointment. After that, it is up to you to get the job!
In addition to contacting and responding to casting director casting calls, talent agents seek out upcoming opportunities, follow up on auditions, and act as your personal professional contact person for contract negotiations. A good talent agent will promote you so you get noticed.
image courtesy of HBO