Tay Smith ~ Atlanta's New Generation of Theatrical Agents in the Film and Television Industry


Tay Smith grew up in Baltimore MD and started his career in the music industry. His father was a popular music producer, teaching him the business from the age of 6. From early on, Tay knew he wanted to be in the entertainment industry in some capacity.

As fate would have it, becoming a Theatrical Talent Agent was timely as Tay landed in Atlanta, GA. where he could use his skill sets to serve a bustling and growing industry, making a name for himself as a top professional in the business.

When Louis Gossett, Jr. won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1982 for the movie, "An Officer and a Gentleman", he gave a moving acceptance speech thanking his ancestors for paving the way for him, and to his Agent, calling their relationship a great "marriage."

Gossett's advice to actors young and old was, "Get a good Agent". Even though that was 1982, some 34 years ago, that advice rings as true today as it did then. But now with a new breed of agents who work with their laptops and I-phones at Starbucks, the office, or anywhere they happen to be when a casting call comes, they communicate instructions to the actor via social media about what the casting agent and producers are looking for, with instructions to video tape the audition and email it to "so and so"casting director.

Something Tay Smith is adept at doing, is putting his clients at ease at handling the audition process in this electronic age. And, with the hundreds of TV and Film productions being shot to accommodate a much broader viewing spectrum for today's entertainment market, a good agent helps to navigate an actor through this sea of information and productions for the right fit for one's acting success.

Says an industry source, "Breaking into show business is tough for anybody: Who to talk to? What to do? How much time and money to invest? As Atlanta emerges on the world stage as a production powerhouse, it can be difficult for Georgia-based actors to even know where to begin. But one thing’s for sure—a SAG-franchised agent is a great way to get your foot in the industry door."

Joy Pervis of the J Pervis Talent Agency in Atlanta, is widely recognized in the film/TV industry for discovering, representing, and/or bringing to the forefront, some of today’s top child stars; Dakota Fanning, Raven-Symoné, Elle Fanning, Kyle Massey, and Lucas Till, to name a few.

Joy along with Agency founder, Jayme Pervis, recognized Tay Smith's skill sets and recruited him to be apart of this film and television industry boom in Atlanta.

Since the agencies inception, the J. Pervis Talent Agency has been on the fast track to becoming one of Atlanta's premiere agencies in discovering and placing talent, and for Hollywood to cast actors for their film and television productions.

I spoke with Tay Smith recently about what makes him and his peers at the J Pervis Talent Agency so successful, and now with their new venture starting their own firm, BYSB Talent Agency.

What Exactly Is a Talent Agent & What Do They Do?

A talent agent, or booking agent, is a person who finds jobs for actors, authors,film directors, musicians, models,professional athletes, writers,screenwriters,broadcast journalists, and other people in various entertainment or broadcast businesses. In addition, an agent defends, supports and promotes the interest of their clients. Talent agencies specialize, either by creating departments within the agency or developing entire agencies that primarily or wholly represent one specialty. For example, there aremodeling agencies, commercial talent agencies, literary agencies, voice-over agencies, broadcast journalist agencies, sports agencies, music agencies and many more.

Having an agent is not required, but does help the artist in getting jobs (concerts, tours, movie scripts, appearances, signings, sport teams, etc.). In many cases, casting directors, or other businesses go to talent agencies to find the artists for whom they are looking. The agent is paid a percentage of the star's earnings (typically 10%). Therefore, agents are sometimes referred to as "10 percenters." Various regulations govern different types of agents. The regulations are established by artist's unions and the legal jurisdiction in which the agent operates. There are also professional associations of talent agencies.

In California, because talent agencies are working with lucrative contracts, the agencies must be licensed under special sections of the California Labor Code, which defines an agent as a "person or corporation who engages in the occupation of procuring, offering, promising, or attempting to procure employment for artist or artists."

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