How to Obtain Auditions Without a Talent Agent

Man and woman on stage auditioning with director
Obtaining Auditions. Emmanuel Faure/The Image Bank/Getty Images

There are many ways that you can secure auditions until you find an agent who will help you procure more opportunities. Being your own agent is very important, and doing so can be highly effective in advancing your acting career. In fact, you should always aim to act as your own agent to some degree, even when you're at the level in your career that you don't really need to do so. This way, you will constantly be proactive in your career, aggressive in your search for work, and you’ll be able to make your own choices for your career (i.e., being your own boss.).

Lots of people will try to tell you what is best for you in this industry, and everyone has an opinion. The only person who truly knows what is best for you - is you.

Be Your Own Agent

The single most important way to obtain auditions on your own is to find out who is casting a particular television show or film. It’s also very important to know when auditions for certain roles are being held. You may find that this can be difficult without talent representatives, who have instant access to all of the casting notices. However, it's certainly not impossible to find casting and audition information on your own. As I mentioned in a previous article about setting goals, you can check out the "SAG-AFTRA Show Sheet" if you’re a member of the union, and you can do research online to see current information about productions on such sites as "Casting About." And ask around town. Networking is always a huge help.

It’s very important, and here in Hollywood literally everybody knows somebody. Many men and women around town undoubtedly have knowledge about the roles that are currently being cast for a project.

As soon as you do discover a pilot, television show, or a film for which you feel you might be a good fit, send your headshot, resume, and your reel to the casting director via e-mail, if available, or by dropping it off at their casting office.

If you are not able to physically drop off a headshot, then drop it in the mail.(Most casting offices list their email addresses and physical addresses online. IMDB Pro is a good place to find this information.)

Let’s say that your friend has an audition for a specific role on a television show that you also feel you may be “right” to audition for. If you are able to determine a specific role that is being cast and would like the opportunity to audition, you can consider putting yourself on tape for the role and sending it to the casting directors. Often the audition "sides" (lines) for a character that is being cast are available online to download. A service called "ShowFax" allows you to download "sides" for a fee. If you decide to send in a tape, the casting director may watch it, or they may not. But you have nothing to lose by sending it in. It is the job of a casting director to seek out and find the best person for the job, so help them to find you.

Casting Notices

Another great way to obtain auditions without an agent is by searching casting notices that are available in publications such as Backstage. The projects are screened by the company in order to be sure that the notices are legitimate.

Another publication for you to check out that lists some current casting information is The Hollywood Reporter.

You should also look into signing up for certain websites that allow actors to self-submit to certain projects electronically for a fee. You must do your research here, as there are many websites that promise to deliver countless auditions, when in reality they may be scams, and you’ll just be throwing away your money. The services that I have used that have allowed me to obtain legitimate auditions are "Casting Networks" and "Actor's Access." There are others, including "Casting Frontier" for example; however, as mentioned, always be sure to research them as much as possible before signing up or spending any money.

Another way to obtain auditions without being represented is to attend "Casting Director Workshops" which allow you to meet a casting director in person.

These workshops allow actors to read for a casting director, also for a fee. They can be helpful, but they’re not for everyone.

Do You Need an Agent?

Eventually, hiring a good talent agent or talent manager can help advance your acting career. However, until you sign with a talent agent who can assist you, you can achieve a lot of success independently. In my own experience, a large majority of auditions, bookings, and successes in my career were achieved without the help of a representative.  

The Bottom Line

You have the power to do anything, and obtaining auditions on your own is very attainable. As is true with everything else in this business, it will take hard work, perseverance, and determination.