Common to anyone starting a career, a cover letter requires skill to write and should follow guidelines to be effective. Whether you’re sending your submission package to a casting director, talent agent, or talent agency, this personal communication will differentiate your résumé from the rest and make it easier for the casting director and/or talent agent to remember you.
Get that talent agent’s attention and interest with this simple guide.
Before you actually start tooting your horn in detail, let us start with guidelines to keep in mind as you write.
If you’ve been asked to submit to a talent agent in a specific way, follow the specifics to the letter. Do they prefer that it should be submitted online or by email? Make sure all the links you include work perfectly.
Learn about the agent you’re sending to. Address the letter to the talent agent by name. Never, ever open your cover letter to an agent with “Dear <company name>” or “To whom it may concern.” This is a big no-no if you want to increase the chance of your cover letter being read. Use the talent agent’s surname with Mr. or Ms. Let the agent be the one to relax formalities and say, “call me Sam.” Don’t know the name of the agent? Then you have no reason to send a cover letter yet.
Your opening paragraph should be a greeting and a reminder at the same time. Do this by reminding the talent agent where and how your paths crossed. Be friendly and specific. Don’t say “You might remember meeting me at John Doe’s Christmas party”; instead, say, “It was lovely speaking with you at the DGA screening of . . . ”
Writing a cover letter to your agent is not the same as writing a cover letter when applying for a job in an office. Stick to one to two paragraphs. Try your best to form as few sentences that would be filled with plenty of facts and meat in them, without a single juvenile filler. You have your acting résumé for the rest of the information, so you don’t need to mention all your projects. Pick only the best from the list, and obviously, never mention any of your drawbacks. Your cover letter’s best chance of being read by any agent is if it looks like a fast read.
This should go without saying, but when writing a cover letter, always be honest. Showing an agent that you are busy and proactive in your career is helpful, but always tell the truth about which projects you’ve worked on and with whom you have worked, as well as where you have studied your craft. If you’re just starting out or do not have a lot of acting experience or credits, be honest about it. Do not try to make something sound better than it is. Do not lie on your cover letter. Talent agents are smart, and you’ll be caught—if not upon reading the cover letter, then during the meeting. It’s not worth it. Fabricating information is one sure way to ruin your career this early.
A bit of humor may work for others, but you can’t be too sure if it would with this agent. Use a standard font, business letter format, high-quality paper, titles (Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr., Esq., etc.), a good-quality black pen for your signature, a full-sized catalog-style envelope, and a mailing label. No Minnie Mouse or Betty Boop stamps.
Even though cover letters to agents are short, you don’t want to take a chance. Give it to a friend to read and ask them to criticize it. Get that second and third opinion. A cover letter with at least one grammar mistake or odd sentence structure can quickly put off the agent and get your letter thrown away.
Go in for the kill. Once they see your headshot and résumé, they’ll have a better idea of what kind of actor you are and whether you’re marketable. If you have links to a personal website, a blog, or an acting reel, include them too.
Cover letters are like auditions, and completing one means looking forward to your next step. Once you’ve posted or delivered your materials, don’t look back. Successful actors keep moving.
Now for the part you’ve been waiting for. What should you mention and include in your cover letter, all the while keeping it short and straight to the point? With the abovementioned tips in mind, here is what your content should consist of:
Feel free to skip some parts if you have not accomplished them yet.
Finally, drop the package off in person. It’s actually better than sending it through the mail. Learning how to formulate a cover letter goes a long way in any industry you choose. Start strong and end big.