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The Top 10 Best Talent Agencies Comparison (2022)

Assemble

By Assemble

February 8, 2022

How do producers find actors? For the most part it is through talent agencies. Connecting the right actors with casting directors, filmmakers and producers is an important part of the creative process.  We have compiled an essential list for the best Hollywood, New York and regional talent agencies.

But first, what exactly is the role of a talent agent and how are they a valuable resource for both the talent they represent and the production teams hiring them?

What Is a Talent Agent & What Does a Talent Agent Do?

A talent agent is tasked with finding jobs for actors, writers, directors, broadcast journalists, professional athletes, models, musicians, and any other industry role in various entertainment or broadcast businesses. Actors are often focused on getting that Beverly Hills agent, but what exactly can an actor expect once they have one?   

One important element to remember for both the producer and actor is that an agent represents the talent’s interests, not the other way around. Actor’s pay an agent a percentage of each job booked and therefore the talent is in charge. Too often, actors don't drive their own career, and they should.  

Working with agents is the norm and should be respected, but producers should not underestimate a personal relationship to an actor.  Being an artist means you are as interested in the storytelling as the paycheck. Treat both with equal importance when making an offer.

What Are Talent Agencies Good For?

The main values of the talent agency are access, relationships, and negotiating skills. A good talent agent has strong connections with the top producers and filmmakers. They set up meetings and auditions, and when an offer is made, they negotiate the best deal for their clients.

A good agent is also an actor’s trusted ally, offering advice and insight on everything from what projects to do to what endorsement deals to take. When a personal issue arises, they can also work with a publicist and management team to devise the best response.

What Are the Different Types of Talent Agencies?

Finding the most skilled painter does you no good if what you really need is a plumber. The same principle applies to representation.  For example, connecting with the most successful sports agent when you are looking for a social media influencer on TikTok will not produce the desired results.

For talent, you don’t need the best agent, you need the best for you. The same goes for producers, knowing which agencies have the type of talent you are looking to hire will save you time and effort.

Here is a breakdown of different types of talent agencies: 

  • Theatrical Agents

  • Commercial Agents

  • Literary Agents

  • Broadcast Journalist Agents

  • Sports Agents

  • Modeling Agents

  • Music Agents

Comparison Chart of Top Agencies by Type

Many talent agencies serve a variety of clientele. It is not uncommon for a large agency to have diverse interests, from representing SAG-AFTRA actors, film directors, screenwriters and producers in big name Hollywood projects to sponsorships, speakerships, branding initiatives, fashion and endorsements. 

However, some are known as leaders in specific disciplines. Below is a comparison chart of seven influential talent agencies delineated by roster strength for specific types of talent.

It’s important to note, strength of roster does not always reflect their primary representation.  For example, UTA is a leader in theatrical, it also happens to have a strong presence with professional broadcasters.

AGENCY

TYPE

WHY OUR CHOICE

WEBSITE

William Morris Endeavor (WME)

Theatrical (Film, Stage, TV)

 

 

There are many powerhouse theatrical agencies, but WMA has been a consistent leader since it was established in 1898. The merger  with Endeavor, thus becoming WME, increased their reach and clout in the industry.

https://www.wmeagency.com

CESD Talent Agency 

Commercial Voice-Over  

CESD is one of the nation’s most prestigious agencies for commercial and voice-over talent and is fast becoming a dominant force in the industry.

https://cesdtalent.com

Verve

Literary

Boutique agency with an impressive roster of writers. Known for advocating fiercely for their talent.

http://vervetla.com

United Talent Agency (UTA)

Broadcast 

With clients such as Anderson Cooper, Brooke Baldwin and Brian Kilmeade, UTA is a leader in representing journalists.

https://www.unitedtalent.com

Octagon

Sports

Octagon has an elite roster of sports talent including Steph Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

https://www.octagon.com

IMG Models

Modeling

Diverse and exciting talent, stable and engaged agent base.

https://www.imgmodels.com

Creative Artists Agency (CAA)

Music

A premier agency for theatrical talent, CAA also boasts an impressive music roster including Ariana Grande, Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus.

https://www.caa.com

What Are the Top Talent Agencies? Here’s Our Overall Best Top Talent List:

This list represents the top ten most influential talent agencies in the United States. The sheer staggering amount of talent on their combined client lists is all the resume needed to tell the tale. So, what are the pros and cons of joining or working with agencies that hold top-tier talent?

Pros: Powerful and connected agency with A-list talent. For producers, this means immediate access to talent that can lead to funding and distribution. For talent, to be represented by any one of these agencies puts you front of mind for top casting houses, streaming platforms such as Netflix and HBO Max, and top talent management.

Cons:  A less established producer might not have their projects given top consideration for A-list talent.  For actors, with such a large and notable client base, personal attention for emerging artists is difficult. These large, established agencies are often not in the business of developing talent and may not be the best acting agencies for beginners that need rudimental help such as choosing headshots or finding acting classes.

1.   William Morris Endeavor (WME)  (Best Talent Agency Overall)

WME narrowly edges CAA for the top spot because of their strong global presence in the industry.

TOP PARTNERS AND AGENTS

Elan Ruspoli (Partner) 

Patrick Whitesell (Executive Chairman) 

Ari Emanuel (CEO) 

Andrew Dunlap (Partner) 

TOP TALENT: Tom Holland | Bryce Dallas Howard | Jodie Comer | Henry Cavill | Ella Purnell | Gemma Chan | Barry Keoghan | Janet McTeer | Diane Lane | Richard Madden

2.   Creative Artists Agency (CAA)

TOP PARTNERS AND AGENTS

Bryan Lourd (Managing Partner) 

Hylda Queally (Motion Picture Talent Agent) 

Tracy Brennan (Co-Head, Motion Picture) 

Franklin Latt (Co-Head, Motion Picture Talent) 

TOP TALENT: Dina Shihabi | Hunter Schafer | Jennifer Holland | Zendaya | Ana de Armas | Jennifer Beals | Jason Bateman | Mckenna Grace | Jenna Ortega | Freya Allan

3.    United Talent Agency (UTA)

TOP PARTNERS AND AGENTS

Brian Swardstrom (Partner, Talent Agent) 

Danie Streisand (Partner, Talent Agent) 

Blair Kohan (Partner, Talent Agent) 

Jacob Fenton (Partner, Talent Agent) 

TOP TALENT: Julia Garner | Lily James | Carrie Coon | Sofia Hublitz | Morena Baccarin | Arnold Schwarzenegger | Alexandra Daddario | Amy Sedaris | Timothée Chalamet 

4.    The Gersh Agency

TOP PARTNERS AND AGENTS

Rhonda Price (Partner, Talent Agent) 

Samantha Chalk (Talent Agent) 

Alexander Yarosh (Partner, Head of Talent)

Elizabeth Wiederseim (Talent Agent)

Established by Phil Gersh  

TOP TALENT: Freddie Stroma | Tom Pelphrey | Melanie Lynskey | Ariel Winter | Alfonso Herrera | Mena Massoud | Jeanne Tripplehorn | Jacob Elordi | Elizabeth Olsen | Ma Dong-seok 

5.   Paradigm Talent Agency

TOP PARTNERS AND AGENTS

Jennifer Millar (Youth Department, Talent Agent)

Irene Cabrera (Talent Agent)

Brad Pankosky (Talent Agent) 

Christy Hall (Talent Agent) 

TOP TALENT: Sydney Sweeney | Lia McHugh | Charlie Tahan | Alice Kremelberg | Travis Fimmel | Yvonne Strahovski | Samantha Hanratty | Julie White | Julie Benz | Brian Cox

6.    A3 Artists Agency

TOP PARTNERS AND AGENTS

Ross Silver (Talent Agent) 

Matt Gogal (Talent Agent)

Jamie Pillet (Partner, Talent Agent) 

Domina Holbeck (Partner, Talent Agent)

TOP TALENT: Emily Swallow | Matt McGorry | Tiffani Thiessen | Kelly Stables | Brooke Butler | Angus Cloud | Christine Lakin | Jen Landon | Javon 'Wanna' Walton | Kelli Barrett

7.   ICM Partners

TOP PARTNERS AND AGENTS

Joanne Roberts Wiles (Partner & Literary Talent Agent)

Toni Howard (Partner, Talent Agent) 

Lorrie Bartlett (Partner, Talent Agent) 

Hildy Gottlieb (Partner, Talent Agent) 

TOP TALENT: Stephanie Beatriz | Laura Linney | Skylar Gaertner | Taissa Farmiga | Rachel Zegler | Julia Jones | Regina King | Kelly Reilly | Teresa Palmer | Sophie Thatcher 

8.    Innovative Artists

TOP PARTNERS AND AGENTS

Melisa Spamer (Talent Agent) 

Abby Bluestone (Talent Agent) 

Josiah Akinyele (Talent Agent) 

Benjamin Carnegie (Talent Agent) 

TOP TALENT: Ming-Na Wen | Mia Kirshner | Kelly Stables | Morgan Spector | Elias Kacavas | Richard Thomas | Ashley Johnson | Eric Ladin | Sophia Ali | Sasha Banks

9.    Agency for the Performing Arts (APA)

TOP PARTNERS AND AGENTS

Jim Osborne (Partner, President & Head of Talent) 

Kris Heller (Talent Agent) 

Jeff Witjas (Partner, SVP)

Barry McPherson (Partner, EVP)

TOP TALENT: Alicia Witt | Cole Hauser | Sara Rue | Olivia d'Abo | Francia Raisa | Eric Nelsen | Willa Ford | Thomas Ian Griffith | Angelique Cabral | Joseph Sikora

10.   Buchwald

TOP PARTNERS AND AGENTS

Ryan Martin (Co-Head, West Coast, Talent Agent) 

Tim Weissman (Talent Agent) 

Leslie Zaslower (Talent Agent) 

Jesse Young (Talent Agent) 

TOP TALENT: Emily Swallow | Julia Chan | Christina Ochoa | Lochlyn Munro | Ralph Macchio | Martin Donovan | Rhona Mitra | Rachel Nichols | Meredith Garretson | Neal McDonough 

The Best Acting Agents

If the adage is true that you are the company you keep, then the best way to explore who the best acting agents would be is through the best actors working today. We’ve done a bit of digging and found some stellar insight into three top agents and managers.

Profile: Kevin Huvane / CAA

Who he represents:  Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Sarah Jessica Parker,  Emma Watson, Jennifer Lopez

See a pattern?  It’s not by accident, but by design, that Kevin Huvane has compiled a track record of working with strong female actors and role models.  He told New York Minute Magazine 

“I so vividly remember my mom sitting me down at her kitchen table and saying ‘Where are my movies? Why aren’t you making movies for us?’' In that moment, Huvane knew that he had to push for movies driven by complex female characters like The Devil Wears Prada starring Meryl Streep and Gravity starring Sandra Bullock. He calls the emphasis on these films and character roles “not just a smart decision and a moral and ethical decision […] but it’s profitable.” He adds, “If you make these movies and you make them well, lots of people go see them.”

Profile: Rich Yorn / LBI Entertainment (Manager)

Who he represents:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Lawrence, Martin Scorsese. 

At elite status in the film industry or on a TV show,  an actor often turns exclusively to talent management companies. There are many reasons for this, but some actors turn to managers because their talent roster is usually much smaller and their personal attention more desirable.  A  talent agent is no longer needed to submit for jobs because studios and producers are coming to you. It’s valuable to have a manager to field those offers and guide your overall career path. 

Profile: Andrew Finkleman / WME

Who he represents:  Richard Gere, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Denzel Washington, Nicholas Cage

Finkleman is an agent with vision and balance.  He can get the big payday for Denzel Washington for a blockbuster like The Equalizer and also support his talent’s  passion projects as a working actor, such as the recent The Tragedy of MacBeth.  

When his client Richard Gere won a lifetime achievement award in acting at the Hampton Film Festival, Finkleman was front and center and even fielded questions from Gere from the podium. When asked by the moderator if Gere’s sexual iconography with roles such as American Gigolo had gotten in the way, he tossed the question to Finkleman who offered the agency was not keen on some of the sexy magazine covers Gere did as he  “was a better actor than a hunk”.

The Top Regional Entertainment Agencies

Above we created a list of the top ten talent agencies based on their standing in the film industry, their outreach to motion picture studios, producers, entertainment executives, casting directors, and top tier talent “above the line” and” below the line”. We focused on agents and agencies based out of New York and Los Angeles.

But what if you are working outside those production hubs of Los Angeles or NYC? Here is a list of the top talent agencies in bustling production cities in other states.

State

Agency

Why We Like It

Colorado

Radical Artists Agency

Great relationships with talent, deep industry ties.

Georgia

Houghton Talent

Stellar reputation and impressive local talent pool in Atlanta.

Illinois

Actor’s Talent Group

Boutique agency, strong track record.

Louisiana

Actor’s Choice Talent Agency

Career building aesthetic, friendly and busy agency. 

North Carolina

JTA Talent

Personable agents, great relationships with both talent and casting/producers.

New Mexico

Mitchell Talent

High quality talent in the southeast market.

Texas

The Horne Agency

Beloved by talent, personal attention, and great outreach.

Best Talent Agencies for New Actors

What producer doesn’t want to discover the next big thing? Some agents specialize in burgeoning talent. What does this entail? Creating opportunity and development. One of the best ways for a new actor to develop and gain valuable on set experience is through background work. The largest casting company that specializes in background, stand-in, or double work is Central Casting

Another way for an actor to find opportunity in the film and TV industries is having success on the stage. For example, an agency with both a film and TV department, and  a robust stage presence is The Talent House. They are more apt to have agents looking at comedians in improv shows or following actors honing their craft on the stage to develop for TV and film careers.

For actors building their resume, a smaller boutique agency where you can get personal attention is often the best fit. And for producers looking for an actor about to break out, a smaller agency might provide the talent pool you seek.  Three agencies that have a smaller, but more personal client list and are well respected in the entertainment  industry are The Kohner Agency, Amsel, Eisenstadt , Frazier & Hinojosa Talent Agency (AEFH) and Osbrink Talent Agency.

Best Acting Agencies for Teens

Working with child actors comes with added responsibility. It’s important to work with talent agencies that have a dedicated division for youth talent, understands child actor laws and shows a commitment to safety and security.

Here we’ve compiled five acting and modeling talent agencies respected for their youth representation.

  1. CESD Talent Agency

  2. Mavrick Artists Agency

  3. Coast to Coast Talent Group

  4. Daniel Hoff Agency

  5. DDO

What Are the Best Acting Agencies for Me?

In terms of producers, the best agencies are the ones with access to the talent that you need. However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to only the elite agencies. Smaller boutique agencies might have the up and coming talent that will serve your project well. 

For talent, most actors starting out don’t have an abundant choice of agencies or management and sign with the first agent that shows interest in them. There is nothing wrong with beginning a relationship with a fledgling agency. In fact, growing together can be a beautiful mutual sense of trust. There is also nothing wrong with outgrowing your representation and shopping around for the best fit once your acting or modeling career begins to take off.

Key takeaways: For producers,  understand the talent you wish to hire and seek out agencies that specialize in that field. For actors, understand your strengths and your interests. If you are primarily looking for work in film and television, a theatrical agent would be your best bet. If you are a hybrid actor and model, then agents who work at equally strong modeling and acting agencies should help your career.

The best talent agency is the one that believes in their clients,  is willing to go to bat to get them seen, and understands the needs of production.

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