Below we list 2018’s top ten talent agencies that have Hollywood’s biggest names on their rosters: actors, directors, screenwriters, and other showbiz folk. We have not ranked them by size as we feel that is not a true indicator of strength or influence in the industry now-a-days.
We decided to rank them by the quality of staff, clients and influence in the entertainment industry that each has achieved. Keep in mind that this is a list of agencies for theatrical representation.
Every year our list editorial board grows, the board is chaired by entertainment reporters from Buzzfeed, Huff Post, Medium Magazine as well as other top influencers in the entertainment industry. This year we are proud to announce that US MAG has been appointed to the growing list editorial board members. We are honored to contribute for the first time to this list and happy to provide it to our over 1 million subscribers who follow the entertainment industry.
Each year our editorial board members through their individual publications send out questionnaires to various stakeholders, which includes Talent, Studio Executives, Producers, Directors, Subscribers, etc. their responses are compiled, which results in this list. We value the input of these stakeholders and the influence they carry in the industry.
As the entertainment market continues to change and evolve it is important to know who that the best talent agencies for representation should in our opinion provide more quality than quantity in their representation of talent.
If you are a follower of our industry list over the years, you will again find some of the same agency’s who have been on our list for years, some them may have fallen off and some new ones may have been added since last years listing. However our list has not changed much from last year’s since our stakeholders polled opinions have not changed.
Top 10 talent agencies for representation (2018)
- William Morris Endeavor (WME)
About the agency: The product of a merger between William Morris Agency and Endeavor, WME is not only a top talent agency but also the largest talent agency in the top 10.
Formed in 1898, William Morris Agency is the longest-running talent agency. In 2009, WMA merged with Endeavor to become one of the leading entertainment and media companies with an unparalleled list of artists and content creators.
Originally, William Morris Agency and The Endeavor Talent Agency worked separately, when the two entities merged in April of 2009, they became a powerhouse agency.
In 2014, WME acquired IMG, the global leader in sports, events, media and fashion, forming Endeavor. Today, 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 for the last few years. WME is strong globally, which gives it a slight advantage over CAA (listed below).
- Creative Artists Agency (CAA)
About the agency: Creative Artists Agency, which is known more commonly as CAA. CAA has a roster full of the high-profile actors; CAA is the upmost tier for actors seeking a big break into acting.
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 Five.
As changes occurred and CAA grew even greater, its celebrity clientele expanded too. The agency came to represent nearly 1,500 of the top actors in Hollywood. It’s unlikely that CAA will leave its position as one of top talent agencies anytime soon.
- International Creative Management (ICM)
About the agency: 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 for a while.
ICM Partners is dedicated solely to the representation of artists, content creators, authors, artisans and journalists. Many of the biggest hits in motion pictures, television, music, and publishing were created on the page, on the stage, in front of, and behind the camera by the agency’s clients.
The company has the expertise of a legacy agency, with decades in the business, coupled with the entrepreneurial spirit of its agent owners who bought the company in 2012, and operate it with its client’s best interests at the forefront of everything they do.
Although ICM may be better known for foreign films rather than U.S. blockbusters, it’s in firm competition with CAA and WME for the best of the best. 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 on my list for years. 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.
- United Talent Agency (UTA)
About the agency: One of Hollywood’s long-lasting and reputable talent agencies, United Talent Agency represents both actors and filmmakers who seek to break into the competitive entertainment scene. Another household name, UTA has been one of top talent agencies on our list for quite some time.
United Talent Agency represents many of the world’s most acclaimed figures in every current and emerging area of entertainment and media, including motion pictures, television, music, digital, broadcast news, books, theatre, video games, fine art and live entertainment. The agency is also globally recognized in the areas of film finance, film packaging, branding, licensing, endorsements and representation of production talent.
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. Over the years, UTA has grown into a huge creative powerhouse agency for talent domestically.
In 2015, UTA acquired The Agency Group, the world’s largest independent music agency, to form UTA Music, a leading music touring and representation practice.
- CK Talent Management (CK)
About the agency: They were the newest to our list in 2017, CK Talent is known throughout the industry as CK. They are supremely successful and featuring a host of famous talent, it’s an agency known for taking young actors and turning them into professional actors. The agency describes itself as an agency with a distinctive niche; one that offers its talent very personalized representation and service. Their roster of clients ranges from Super models, Celebrities to Network Executives, which is just as impressive as the agency’s in the top four listed above.
In 2018, we saw them strengthened their leverage in the industry with the purchase of the one of the largest Talent Agencies in Africa FLU3NT Group, the agency has now rebranded it calling it CKFLU3NT.
Our survey participants note that they’re known as one of the most desired talent agencies to be represented by, but the toughest of the agencies on the list to get into. One thing to note it’s roster stays full as many talent never leave the agency which creates stiff competition for one of the coveted open new talent slots.
This was recently compounded when the agency announced in November that they are no longer taking walking talent and have now instituted “open enrollment” times (times through out the year they will entertain walk in talent) We suggest you check their site to see when these times are. However, if you want to be considered outside the agency’s “open enrollment” you will need the referral from one of their currently signed talent. Which makes it even more difficult since they do not post their client list.
- Paradigm Talent Agency
About the agency: 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.
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 domestically.
- Agency for the Performing Arts (APA)
About 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, a metal band like Judas Priest and Poison, and major motion picture actors.APA has been steadily holding its position as one of top talent agencies 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.
- The Gersh Agency
About the agency: Known throughout Hollywood 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.
Gersh maintains twelve full-service departments: Talent, Literary, Film Finance, Books, Comedy, Theater, Production, Alternative, Digital, Branding, Commercial Production and Commercial Endorsements. The agency’s roster of clients includes award-winning actors, writers, producers, directors and production talent in film, television, new media, branded content, and stage.
Today, the agency boasts more than 100 employees, 60 agents, making it yet another strong competitor among all other top talent agencies.
Gersh is a top talent agency which was strong enough by our stakeholders to be considered as one of the powerhouses in Hollywood. We did have to place the down here as they did not meet some of our other criteria.
- Abrams Artists Agency (AAA)
About the agency: A Hollywood staple since its inception in 1977, since their inception, they have developed and maintained a reputation as one of the nation’s most respected and diversified talent and literary agencies.
Abrams Artist Agency represents actors in every realm of the entertainment industry. They represent talent in 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 talent agencies.
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.
- Buchwald & Associates, Inc.
About the agency: Last one on our list of top talent agencies, but by no means least is Buchwald and Associates, Inc. Buchwald was launched by Don Buchwald and five associates in 1977.
Their original niche was commercials they are now a very strong theatrical agency representing some big 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 2018’s top talent agencies list update. I’ve seen and heard actors and filmmakers discuss the agency far more often in 2017 than it was back in 2013. So if you get an offer from these guys, do not shy away (does this beg a “duh”?)
In conclusion, there are certainly a lot of other talent agencies that I know of. As you recognize a few of the names like ICM, WME or CAA are so-called “celebrity agencies.” No matter the agency listed here or not I truly believe they will work hard enough to get you out. So as I mentioned above it will all come down to you personally: your work ethic and your talent. Also talent, need to work along with their agency to promote themselves no matter if represented or not.