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How I Got My First Agent


How I Got My First Agent

How I Got My First Agent

Before you delve into this post, take note of the title; How I Got My First Agent. I highlight that point not to be obnoxious, but to stress that obtaining an agent is a unique…

Before you delve into this post, take note of the title; How I Got My First Agent. I highlight that point not to be obnoxious, but to stress that obtaining an agent is a unique experience for everyone. How it happened for me might not necessarily be the way it happens for you, and how it happens for you probably won’t be the same for the next person. But rest assured, though it may take some time (more on that below) chances are it will eventually happen.

Since I arrived in LA almost two and a half years ago, I’d imagined the day I’d finally be able to say I have an agent. How would it happen? When would it happen? Who would it be? There was no way for me to know for sure. I’d been working as an Executive Producer’s assistant for almost a year when he’d graciously offered to read my material and recommend me to his agent if the work was strong enough. It was happening. I might finally be meeting with an agent! Only…I wasn’t. The feedback I got was that I had talent and my work was good, but I had stuff to work on. I shook off the initial sting of disappointment and got to rewriting. And was better off for it.

Fast-forward almost a year later. I’d finished the rewrite and just completed an additional pilot I felt pretty good about. I was working for a different EP and once again, asked if she’d take a look at it. A couple of months went by with no word on her having read it. Until one morning, she came into the office and excitedly said to me, “I read your pilot. I loved it.” Armed with new confidence, I started showing my work to more writers/producers on staff. The feedback was incredibly positive. I’d kept at it and the work indicated I was ready. Calls were being made on my behalf to some of the biggest agencies in town. One writer told me her agent loved the material. Now it was really happening. I figured the call would come any day now…only it didn’t. Once again, I’d been able to taste it but still no go.

So yeah, it sucked. Especially since two colleagues in my writers group had taking meetings and obtained representation. I was feeling discouraged but was trying my best to take it in stride. It takes some people five, even ten years before they break in. I’d only been out here for around two. At least I was working in television and having my material read (and liked!) by industry professionals. I was at least on the path.

And then one Sunday, I got a call from a friend (one of the fortunately repped members of my writers group). She’d told her agent about my pilot and he wanted to read it. Pleased, but not particularly stoked because by now I was jaded with regards to the process, I sent it to her. The next day, she called again to say he wanted to meet me. Then I got stoked. The fact that he’d read my pilot in a day and made the move to meet with me was undeniably exciting. I met with him the following week. It was surreal. Everything – from being offered water by the assistant, to being lead through the swank office with panoramic views, to hearing praise for my script and that he wanted to sign me on the spot – was better than how I imagined it two years ago because it was actually, finally happening.

If you’re thinking this post skipped the part about practical ways to actually go about getting an agent, that’s because there aren’t any. The takeaway is there will likely be many letdowns before you actually get a break. And you never know how or thanks to whom it will come. I figured I’d obtain representation through someone at work but instead it was a personal connection. And it felt like a great fit with the agent I landed with, which is important. (Still, I’m extremely grateful to the people I work with for making those calls. Regardless of the outcome, it was incredibly gracious of them.)

Also know that the process can be highly subjective. Some people will read your script and love it. For others it won’t be their thing. An agent could be looking for a female writer and you’re a guy. Or a Latina writer and you’re Asian. Hard truth: Yes, these things sometimes do factor in. But at the end of the day, if the work is good and you’re open to the right connections, you’ll eventually have a story about how you got your first agent.

Jamila Daniel

Jamila Daniel is an LA transplant from New York pursuing a career in writing for dramatic television. You can follow her journey on Twitter here.

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