10 Top Talent Agencies in Los Angeles for Theatrical Representation in 2017

Top Talent Agencies Los Angeles 2017The best way to become a household name in Hollywood is to have a strong theatrical agent representing you. Every single one of those power agents will belong to at least 30 top talent agencies in Los Angeles.

Why these rankings matter? A top talent agency has the most power and connections in this city. They submit their actors to world’s largest productions and stay in touch with casting directors that are key players in Hollywood.

This is why every budding actor makes it one of their primary goals to be signed by these Los Angeles talent agencies. If you’re successful, more often than not, your career and life will change. I am still waiting for that call from Ari which should come any day now.

Getting signed by a top talent agency is not easy. And worse, new actors don’t even know what are the top talent agencies in Los Angeles in charge of this business.

In this article, I’ll list ten top talent agencies in LA for 2017. Just remember that this is debatable. As the time goes by, “rankings” of these Los Angeles talent agencies change (but not by much). I’ll try to update this list at least twice a year.

Need a full list of agents? 150 Top Talent Agencies in Los Angeles (2017)

Is it possible to get signed by a top talent agency?

How to get signed by top talent agencyOther actors have been signed by top talent agencies in Los Angeles before, so it’s definitely possible.

One of my friends has recently inked a contract with CAA just because he had a one line part in this summer’s superhero blockbuster movie. But this scenario is not common.

Ultimately, it’s very difficult to get attention from a top talent agency in LA. They already have a huge roster of clients whom they need to attend to, and more hot talent continuously flocking to Hollywood.

Your chances of getting signed with a power agent in LA can increase if you do one of the following (ideally, all of these things with some luck on top):

  • Visibly keep working and expanding your body of work that is noticed in LA;
  • Focus on growing the scale and quality of your roles with featured parts;
  • Become a SAG-AFTRA member (gives you maybe a 0.01% boost);
  • Have a great manager with solid connections that will get you a meeting;
  • Get a referral from an actor who’s already represented by the agency;
  • Work on a commercially successful big production movie or TV show;
  • Win some awards that are recognizable in the industry;
  • Develop good relationship with well-known casting directors;
  • Grow your social media following and general fan base;
  • Have some talent.

I intentionally listed talent as the last one. If you can get any of the above accomplished, clearly it doesn’t matter as much. We all know many poor actors who are successfully working in the industry and are represented by these top talent agencies in Los Angeles.

However, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t always be in an acting class, honing your acting skills. More on the importance of this in my How to Get an Agent post.

Bottom Line: If you’re new to the industry, then getting signed by a top tier acting agency in Los Angeles requires for many stars to align, pieces to fall together and a handout from the Universe.

Why knowing top Los Angeles agencies matter?

Why knowing top Los Angeles talent agencies matter

Besides the fact that the more you know about the industry you’re in, the better you will be able to navigate within it?

There are many good reasons to be aware of the top talent agencies in Los Angeles. One good reason is potential connections and keeping tabs on everybody in Hollywood.

Q:So if it’s difficult to get signed, how can this list of top talent agencies in Los Angeles even help me? It’s pointless.

That’s true, I did mention it’s difficult. But I didn’t say it’s impossible. Keep working at it, and occasionally try your luck with any of them; you never know.

Actors that are serious about their acting career in Hollywood are all aware of who the biggest wolves are in this forest.

Why? Because your goal is to work with top talent agencies in Los Angeles later down the line, as well as the people who are represented by them.

Say you end up working with an actor repped by WME or a director associated with Gersh, and you don’t even try to stay in touch because you thought that Gersh is the nickname that person goes by. The joke’s on you.

Try to stay mindful of people’s roles in this industry. The better you get at this, the more benefits you’ll reap.

Connect thyself with top Los Angeles talent agencies

When I first started to seriously pursue career in film/TV and finally moved to Los Angeles, I had this naive thought that my skills will get me work. As the time went by, and I’ve met more people, read more books, researched and experienced the industry, the reality started to settle in.

Hollywood is about nepotism, almost no matter how talented you are.

Q:So I should just stay in touch because that person has connections? That doesn’t seem right.

Yes, you should. And no, it doesn’t. Welcome to Los Angeles. Networking is everything.

That’s not necessarily a bad or a good thing. It’s simply how Hollywood works. Someone will open you the door, which will eventually lead to a thousand more doors. The day will come when it’s your turn to open a door for someone else.

It goes without saying that it’s better if you develop a meaningful relationship with the person. You must find a way to be genuinely interested in them as well as their work. But one’s connections is a big incentive to try harder to keep those relationships afloat.

Remember that nobody’s giving out handouts in Los Angeles. If they will help you out, they probably have you in mind for some favor in the future. That’s show business. That’s any business, really. Sounds cold, but you’ll soon join the dark side too. It’s great!

Jokes aside, ideally, you want to work with a director/actor with strong representation because you two connect. And hopefully, they feel the same. That’s when you strike gold.

I can’t convince you? This guy knows what he’s talking about (watch it till the end).

Bottom Line: It’s important to know the biggest players in the industry if you’re hoping to one day work with them. Knowledge is power, and networking is vital.

Top Talent Agencies in Los Angeles (2017)

Top Los Angeles Talent AgenciesFinally. Below I will list 2017’s ten top talent agencies in Los Angeles that have Hollywood’s biggest names on their rosters: actors, directors, screenwriters, and other showbiz folk.

Keep in mind that this is a list of agencies for theatrical representation (film, television, webisodes). This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have other departments that are just as strong, i.e. commercial, modeling or literary. However, majority of them actually do well elsewhere too.

Since I know theatrical agencies by heart (not that the neurotic in me doesn’t do monthly check-ups on this), I’m providing this first. For commercial, modeling, kids and other LA agencies, I’ll do more thorough research for you and publish a list of those later.

Top 5 Most Powerful Talent Agencies in Los Angeles

Now, let’s begin with five top Los Angeles talent agencies that for years have never fell down off of this list. These being the most powerful agencies in LA means that they’re likely to be one of the biggest in the world.

1. William Morris Endeavor (WME)

WME Top Talent Agency in LAAbout the agency: The product of a merger between William Morris Agency and Endeavor, WME is not only a top talent agency in LA but also the largest talent agency in the international community. With talent that includes the Rolling Stones, John Travolta, and Clint Eastwood, it’s a sure bet that WME will get you where you wish to go.

Originally, William Morris Agency and The Endeavor Talent Agency worked separately within the same city, though WMA had a storied, 100-year history of representing talent. While WMA had over a century worth of experience and expertise, Endeavor grew quickly and became one of the fastest-growing agencies just before the two companies joined forces.

When the two entities merged in April of 2009, they became a powerhouse agency in Hollywood. Today, their combined efforts as WME represent talent in every arena: movies, TV, music, theatre, digital and publishing, and even the NFL. It occupies a solid first position on my list of top talent agencies in Los Angeles. WME is also strong internationally which gives it a slight advantage over CAA (listed below).

2. Creative Artists Agency (CAA)

CAA Top Talent Agency in LAAbout the agency: Perhaps the absolutely most prestigious of all talent agencies in Los Angeles specifically is Creative Artists Agency. It’s more commonly referred to as CAA. With a roster full of the highest-profile actors and a proven track record of winning its clients significant paychecks, CAA is the upmost tier for actors seeking a big break in LA.

The agency got its start in 1975, when five agents joined together in Century City. They were without significant funding, and relied on folding tables and chairs to win their first clients. Within its first week, CAA sold three packages, one of which was The Jackson 5ive. The agency grew quickly, earning around $90 million in booking each year by the end of the 1980s.

As changes occurred and CAA grew even greater in influence and revenue, its celebrity clientele expanded too. The agency came to represent nearly 1,500 of the top actors in Hollywood with approximately $150 million in revenue each year by the late 1990s. It’s unlikely that CAA will leave its position as one of top talent agencies in Los Angeles anytime soon. CAA doesn’t simply help its stars secure bookings; the agency offers career assistance and financial specialists to cover any need.

Today, CAA has many different divisions in addition to the common film and television acting. That, and unique divisions such as CAA Marketing, which works with brands and corporations. Also CAA Sports, which features agents who solely represent athletes. That sets it apart from many other agencies. CAA is more than a top Los Angeles talent agency — it sits with the best around the world.

3. International Creative Management (ICM)

ICM Partners Top Talent Agency in LAAbout the agency: Similarly steeped in Hollywood’s acting history, International Creative Management is known for representing talented comedians and stars of both film and TV. It’s been one of the top talent agencies in Los Angeles for a while. Although it may be better known for foreign films rather than U.S. blockbusters, it’s a firm in competition with CAA and WME for the best of the best.

ICM represents clients not only in Los Angeles, but also in Europe and on the eastern coast of the United States. Founded in 1975 when Creative Management Associates and International Famous Agency merged into one single agency, ICM has grown immensely.

Just recently, in 2012, the agency gained a new name and a new partnership. It’s been one of the top talent agencies in Los Angeles for years, however. Whether it’s acting, or live performance, or literary publishing, or branded entertainment is what you’re after, ICM deals with these divisions and more.

4. United Talent Agency (UTA)

UTA Top Talent Agency in LAAbout the agency: One of Hollywood’s long-lasting and reputable talent agencies, United Talent Agency represents both actors and filmmakers who seek to break onto the competitive entertainment scene. Another household name, UTA has been one of top talent agencies in Los Angeles for quite some time.

If you’re a director, actor, or even producer, you should keep your eye on UTA. As one of the largest agencies not just in LA but the world, UTA hosts over 200 agents who represent talent that ranges from movies and TV to below the line talent and video games. When it first began, UTA formed as the result of a merger between the Bauer-Benedek and Leading Artists Agencies. It appears that mergers are a trend among agencies in Hollywood.

Once under the name of a single company, UTA took off and garnered immense success as its first packages included The Simpsons and The Wonder Years. They also got successful with talents like Joel and Ethan Coen, Larry David, and Mike Myers. Over the years, UTA has grown into a huge creatives powerhouse agency for talent internationally and at home here in LA.

5. Paradigm Talent Agency

Paradigm Top Talent Agency in LAAbout the agency: Headquartered in the famous, fancy and wealthy Beverly Hills, Paradigm is a top talent agency known for fostering the careers of independent film stars. If starting your career off in a Sundance-based film sounds enticing, one day Paradigm may be the top talent agency for you.

With offices scattered throughout the United States, Paradigm hosts more than 150 different agents who each represent a great variety of talent. They have their toes dipped in movies, television, music and live performance, comedy, endorsements, and many more divisions.

In recent years, the agency has expanded significantly into the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) arena by joining forces with the EDM talent agency AM Only. Now they represent stars like Skrillex and David Guetta, further establishing it as one of the top talent agencies in Los Angeles.

Just two years ago, Paradigm grew its representation and influence within the music industry even more when it acquired half of the U.K.’s Coda Music Agency. Today, Paradigm is one of the most varied and versatile agencies in both Los Angeles and the nation.

Top 5 Second Tier Los Angeles Talent Agencies

While the above LA talent agencies steadily stay at the top, second tier agencies will often change places, with some dropping and new ones coming in. However, these five below have been the steadiest I’ve seen over the years.

6. The Gersh Agency

Gersh Top Talent Agency in LAAbout the agency: Known throughout Hollywood and Los Angeles as TGA and Gersh, The Gersh Agency is a family affair. Supremely successful and featuring a host of famous talent, it’s an agency know for taking young actors and turning them into professional actors.

Created by Phil Gersh in 1949, Gersh has grown since its first years in the world of literary and talent representation. Today, the agency boasts more than 100 employees, 60 agents, and an office on each coast, making it yet another strong competitor among all other top talent agencies in Los Angeles.

Gersh is a top talent agency that is strong enough to be considered one of the powerhouses in LA. However, just because the top five spots have already been taken, I had to place it down here. Generally, they’re known as one of the most desired for talent agencies in LA to be represented by, and their roster of clients is no less impressive than those top five listed above.

7. Agency for the Performing Arts (APA) 

APA Top Talent Agency in LAAbout the agency: If you wish to do comedy or music on top of your acting career goals, the Agency for the Performing Arts is the perfect fit. Founded in the year 1962 by agents who left MCA, APA has become known for its roster of famous comedians, metal band like Judas Priest and Poison, and major motion picture actors.

It’s a top acting agency that has something for everyone. Early clients included Johnny Cash, The Doors, and Liberace. Today, APA is no small agency — they have grown to represent even bigger names. APA has been steadily holding its position as one of top talent agencies Los Angeles for a long time.

With a roster of divisions that includes every media platform, APA represents talent in film, television, theatre, and even digital publishing, to name a few. If you’re an up and coming star who hopes to turn your dreams into a worldwide lifestyle brand, APA is the perfect agency to keep tabs on. The team is familiar with building and selling brands like the Kardashians, Bombardier, and Marriott, which should tell you something.

8. Innovative Artists

Innovative Artists Top Talent Agency in LAAbout the agency: If you’re on the younger side of the Los Angeles’ showbiz talent pool, you’ll want to court the attention of Innovative Artists. This eight one of the top talent agencies in Los Angeles, which represents Lilla Crawford and G. Hannelius, is known for scooping up young talent before they break onto the scene.

Innovative Artists describes itself as an agency with a distinctive niche, one that offers its talent very personalized representation and service. With 25 years in the entertainment industry under its belt, Innovative Artists has become known for one quality in particular: excellent service for those it represents. I’ve heard actors say good things about it too.

According to their own site, clients come first at this agency (one should hope so), and the agents themselves build strong relationships with those they represent. So even though while their client list may not look as impressive as those agencies listed above, this agency is just as strong any other I’ve mentioned in my second tier part of the list. 

Finally, remember that an agency like this who has leverage in Hollywood but isn’t as big may be the best deal. That’s because they will be able to focus on you more rather than spread their attention across many different clients who may be “more important.”

9. Abrams Artists Agency (APA)

Abrams Artists Top Talent Agencies in LAAbout the agency: A Hollywood and Los Angeles staple since its inception in 1977, Abrams Artist Agency represents actors in every realm of the entertainment industry. They’re good for theater, animated film and television, TV, radio, commercials, and even event hosting.

It’s a top talent agency that’s enjoyed a fantastic reputation since its creation. Over its decades working in the entertainment industry, Abrams Artists Agency has made its name by becoming one of the most diversified in both Los Angeles and New York.

With so many different divisions, including a literary division and a currently growing and increasingly popular youth division, there’s truly a niche for everyone within Abrams. You’ll benefit from being a client of theirs the most if you also want to pursue voice over jobs as well as written works.

10. Don Buchwald & Associates

Don Buchwald Top Talent Agency in LAAbout the agency: Last one on our list of top talent agencies Los Angeles but by no means least is Don Buchwald and Associates group, otherwise known as DBA. Back in 1977 when Don Buchwald, the agent, has left a commercial talent agency called Atlas Talent Agency, he formed his own in New York City with five other partners.

In 2010, they have finally opened an office in West Hollywood and now continue to grow in size very rapidly. Their biggest office remains in NYC where they own a building with six floors, all fully staffed. Even though their original niche was commercials, they are now a very strong theatrical agency representing some of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

With DBA’s constant signing of bigger names, this agency is quickly climbing up the ranks, and will likely be a lot higher in my 2017’s top talent agencies in Los Angeles list update. I’ve seen and heard actors and filmmakers discuss the agency far more often in 2016 than it was back in 2013. So if you get an offer from these guys, do not shy away (does this beg a “duh”?)

Take Home Message

There’s at least 150 talent agencies in Los Angeles that I know of.

Some are almost as huge as the top ones on this list, and others are small with just a few clients. But considering one as a “top talent agency” is highly arbitrary (besides the top 2-4).

A few names like ICM, WME or CAA are so-called “celebrity agencies.” But most of these agencies (and many others not listed here) will work hard enough to get you out.

It’s likely that all of them have connections with the same casting directors, so it will all come down to you personally: your work ethic and your talent.

If you’re an actor who’s just starting out, then I’d say don’t worry about mailing these agencies your submission packages, yet. You don’t want to do that for two reasons:

  • As a complete newbie in LA with no solid work you’ll be wasting your time;
  • They will not represent you as well as a really good boutique agency may.

Newcomers should concentrate on being repped by small talent agencies because their agents will work harder for you. They want to make a name for themselves as well by getting you auditions and hoping you climb the ranks in Hollywood.

Stay mindful of the top talent agencies in Los Angeles, particularly for networking opportunities. But generally, you should focus on expanding your resume and the quality of your body of work. If you stay consistent and produce work, you’ll get noticed in LA.