For our latest featured local business we chatted with talent agent Meagan Allison-Hancock to find out more about this interesting career. Meagan represents a diverse roster of award-winning talent across North America. Her clients have worked on prestigious and popular film and television projects alike, including Orphan Black, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Discovery, American Gods, Anne with an E, War for the Planet of the Apes, the Jesse Owens biopic Race, and the critically acclaimed television series Fargo.
Where do you work and what do you do?
I am an agent at Amanda Rosenthal Talent Agency, a boutique agency with offices in Toronto and Montreal. We represent actors in North America for film and television, as well as commercials, voice and theatre.
How did you get started in this business?
I fell into this career somewhat by accident, almost ten years ago. After working extensively in the service industry, I was looking for a more meaningful and fulfilling career path in the arts, and discovered a job posting for a talent agent assistant. That’s how I met Amanda Rosenthal. We really hit it off despite my lack of experience in the entertainment industry, and she was willing to teach me what I needed to know. I quickly fell in love with the business and the clients, and my role continued to evolve within the company.
What sets you apart?
In Canada, there isn’t really a distinction between ‘agent’ and ‘manager’ like there is in the US, but my working style is more like a manager. That means curating a smaller roster, and involvement in every aspect of an actor’s career, from the day to day minutiae, to the long-term, big picture strategies. Most importantly, I like to work with actors who I connect with on a personal level and can see myself working with for the duration of their careers. Making money is important, but if an actor is going to be difficult or unreliable, treat people poorly, or cause trouble on set, I’m not interested. I’m proud to work with talent who are lovely, hard working and can have a sense of humour during the ups and downs of the business!
Who are your clientele/demographics?
I represent a full range of actors across all ages and types. I gravitate towards character actors and comedic performers, but the main criteria is natural acting ability and range, and the rest can fall into place from there.
How does your business make money? How does it work?
Agents earn on a commission basis. When the clients make money, we make money. That being said, if an actor hasn’t had a job in a little while, that doesn’t mean the work stops. There’s a constant effort going on behind the scenes regardless of whether an actor has set foot on set or not.
Where in Toronto can we find your profession?
There are many agencies in the city, but the level of reputation and calibre of the talent ranges from company to company. I work at a highly regarded agency that is part of TAMAC, an organization of agents who adhere to a collective agreement and work together to ensure the highest ethical standards and best business practices in our industry.
What is the best question a prospective actor could ask a member of your profession when comparing companies?
There are so many important questions an actor should ask when meeting with an agent, whether it’s their first one or they are making a switch after some time. It really varies though depending on where they are in their career, so I really appreciate when an actor is curious about my background and interests. It indicates a balanced ego, and level of humanity and sensitivity that often sets the most successful actors apart.
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
I’m grateful that there are so many rewarding things about what I do. Some of my favourites include: the relationships with my colleagues, including the casting directors and producers who make this job fun and worthwhile, when the most deserving and hard working actors book their first series or lead role, seeing a client’s film premiere at a big festival. The worst part is seeing deserving and hard working actors come close to great roles, but not quite land them. It can be really hard to coach someone through that kind of rejection. That, and dealing with scheduling conflicts. Some of the most stressful moments in my career have been due to scheduling issues!
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
People often joke that all agents are like Ari Gold from Entourage, which I find amusing because I’m so the opposite. There’s only one agent in Toronto who comes close to that reputation!
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Toronto business that you love?
If you’re looking for a publicist, my friend Amira de Vera started her own PR company, Project Four. I love her approach and her energy and she’s inspiring as a young entrepreneur!