People love fucking other people over. It's a fact and unfortunately some of us are victims of that kind of abuse.
I have been through many agencies before I settled on two that I'm with right now. I learned from other people's mistakes and I want people to learn from mine. With that being said I'll talk about the bad agents, horrible agencies and toxicity that a lot of them have.
Signs of a bad agency:
They make you pay to be represented by them. Not only is it a red flag, it should also be illegal. You and your agent are a team. THEY work for you, not the other way around.
Miscommunications and delayed emails. Personal story of mine. I had an agency reach out to me who tried to get me ASAP on Casting Networks and I kept having trouble with the site. I kept contacting customer service with no luck. Later, there were more than two times when the agent missed or ignored my emails, where I stated I was either out of town and can't be reached or where I wanted to refer another actor.
The agency is making you register on not-so-popular sites. Everything I booked was through Actor's Access. The other platform my agents use is 800 casting. Never ever have I booked things off of Backstage, Mandy Actors or other less popular platforms. If they are booking you extra work via Casting Networks or Casting Frontier, I would be very weary of that.
They're not SAG-francised agencies. "A franchised talent agency is affiliated with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). There is a vetting process that franchised agencies must go through before we can announce our affiliation with these two unions." SAG protects its members. Yes, it might be expensive to join at first, since it's $2500-3000 initiation fee (based on a state), but the benefits are wonderful and it feels good to hold that bee-coloured card in your hand. It costs $200+ every 6 months to be a member. When you think about it, it's not that much and think about all the jobs that you will book that will pay that off.
They take forever to mail you the check from a job. It shouldn't take more than 30 days to mail you the check from a recent job that you worked on. If it takes more than that- RED FLAG.
They're not on IMDb. If you're unfamiliar with that site, go to Google and type in the name of your favourite actor or director. It can be either Guillermo del Toro or Rachel Weitz (both of whom I adore). 100% they will be on IMDb. Why? Because it has their biography, filmography, awards they won, their agents, their contact info, behind the scenes photos, etc.
They tell you to go to certain people for demo reels, headshots, etc. Agents can REFER you to people, but they shouldn't TELL you or MAKE you go to certain people. They tell you to take THEIR classes.
They don't care if you have a lot or zero experience, they'll take you in no matter what!
They take more than 20%. BIG RED FLAG! Agents take 10-15%. Period.
You get NO auditions from them. I don't care how young or old you are, your race, what your political and religious views are... If you have been signed with an agent for a month or a year and you still have 0 auditions...something is wrong. That means they're not doing their job. Especially if you have all your materials together.
They never gave you or emailed you a contract. Professional agency would make you sign a contract for so and so years to stick with them, if they're exclusive or non-exclusive, with all of their contact info.
They advertise open casting calls from Disney and other big franchises. You see it everywhere. Agents are looking for a new star to shine on television and somehow they are hosting auditions in YOUR town. You come to the casting call, "agents" give full-of-hope PowerPoint presentation about success stories and you get butterflies in your stomach. Then "agents" ask you to dance, sing or prepare a monologue. You do that and soon you pass the audition! And then comes the "best" part. You have to pay a tuition of $2000+ to be seen by casting directors, big agencies and in few months you will get booked as a lead in a new Nickelodeon movie. A good friend of mine, Ben Giroux, has been an actor for more than 20 years and in January of 2022 he booked a lead role in the new cartoon series that's gonna blow up on Nickelodeon. Before that he had cameos and guest star roles in television shows, movies and voiceovers. No one becomes a sensation overnight. NO ONE. If it sounds too good to be true- it probably is.
Can you think of other red flags that I didn't mention?
Comment below, like and await new blogs :)