Daisy and Dukes is an established agency for child actors, which gets rave reviews on the Not A Pushy Mum Forum.
Who Are Daisy And Dukes?
Daisy and Dukes is an established agency, having opened its doors in April 2011. Michelle Kirby is the Hertfordshire based founder and owner of the agency. She is assisted by booker Rosie Dibble.
On its website, the agency describes itself as “one of the UK’s top 10 talent agencies for young actors and models.” There is widespread agreement about this.
No agency can guarantee work. In fact, you should avoid the ones who tell you they can. Jobs are allocated by casting directors and production teams; the talent agent’s focus is getting you into the best casting rooms.
Who Do Daisy And Dukes Represent?
Daisy and Dukes represent children for work in film, TV, radio, theatre, commercials and modelling.
The youngest children on their books are babies. The agency represents both children and teenagers, but not adults.
The agency’s founder, Michelle Kirby, understands the highs and lows of being a young performer’s parent. Having experienced it herself, she’ll know the efforts you’ll make to juggle your work and family commitments to get to castings and bookings with little notice.
When the agency accepts young people onto their books, they hope that it will be a long term and successful business relationship.
“..we experience the joy of seeing them thrive year on year, as their talents and accomplishments grow.”Daisy and Dukes website
All children and young people accepted by Daisy and Dukes are represented on a sole agency basis. This means you have just the one agency for all your work. You cannot quietly sign up with another agency for any type of work.
Why? The agent checks if you are available for all casting and performing dates before submitting you for each brief. Another agency doing the same risks clashes happening for different applications.
Furthermore, disputes can occur over which agent is due the commission for submitting you for work. If your appearance and skills meet a brief, you’ll be submitted. Two agents will both see the brief and submit you. Which one should the casting director contact?
So the sole agent clause is a sensible one.
The Daisy And Dukes Twitter Feed
The Daisy and Dukes Twitter feed tells you two important things. One, that some of the young performers they represent have flourishing careers. So you know that the agency has carefully chosen talented performers to represent. Furthermore, it tells you that the agency name is trusted by leading casting directors.
Secondly, you’ll see plenty of positive comments about the agency from the young performers and their parents. That’s always a good sign.
Applications Welcome From Around The UK
Applications are accepted from across the UK, although everyone is expected to travel (at their own expense) to wherever a casting is located. You can’t pick and choose. The agency does, however, try to focus on London castings for southern based children and castings in Manchester, Liverpool and Scotland for northern based talent.
How To Apply To Daisy And Dukes
Do NOT send anything by post, or use the office email address. The website specifically tells you to use the ‘Join Us’ page.
If you don’t do that, you are wasting everyone’s time and alerting the agent to your poor administration skills. A parent who can’t use the correct page of a website is unlikely to process child license forms quickly and efficiently, never mind get to the correct casting location on time at short notice.
Getting Ready To Make An Application
First, take a clear head and shoulders photo of your child. It needs to look like them in real life. Keep hair tidy but loose. No makeup, hats, sunglasses or other accessories should be present. Try to get their face well lit with clear, natural light. A neutral background is preferable, but the key is for your child’s face to be the focus.
Then reduce the file size to no more than 3mb.
In December 2018 the agency changed its policy for application photos. Previously, all files had to be less than 1mb. It’s a tight requirement, but understandable given pressure on busy email systems and servers. Some parents struggled to reduce files to this extent and the agency responded by raising the limit to 3mb. It shows a willingness to take note of issues that arise and, moreover, an ability to be flexible so that a good compromise for everyone is found.
When you have a good photo available with the correct data size, you are ready to apply. You will be asked for the following:
- First name
- Last name
- Date of birth
- Parent or guardian’s first name
- Parent or guardian’s last name
- Height (cm)
- Spotlight view PIN (if you have one through representation)
- Training (if applicable)
- Local authority for your home address (they process your Child Performance License)
- Phone / mobile
- Photo To Be Uploaded
Receiving A Response
You should have a reply to your application at some stage, even if you aren’t invited to an audition workshop for assessment. But given that the agency’s focus is on submissions and work, processing applications when the audition workshops are some time away won’t be the priority.
If the agent thinks a particular young performer has a decent chance of booking work, an invitation to an audition workshop is sent.
Getting A Rejection
A good agent only takes on young performers who have a decent chance of booking work. That means choosing a range of ages, looks and special skills. But at the same time, efforts are made to avoid representing children and young people who look similar to each other. Otherwise, there will be internal competition even before the submission is made to a casting director.
Bear this in mind should a rejection from Daisy and Dukes appear. It isn’t personal, or a criticism of your child. There are many factors they have to take into account.
The agency receives a huge volume of applications every week. Nearly all applications are rejected for one reason or another. Accept a rejection with good grace, and keep your child training as you apply to other agencies.
The Daisy And Dukes Audition Workshop
The audition workshops are free. This is to be applauded given that there are costs for the agency to run them. The workshops take place early in the new year and again in the summer.
Everyone can find out the date of forthcoming audition workshop events on the agency’s Facebook page. But attendance is strictly by invitation only.
Children under the age of four don’t have to attend the audition workshop. Instead, parents must carefully consider their child’s disposition. It’s important that babies and toddlers are happy to be in an unfamiliar room with strangers, big pieces of equipment, noise and bright lights.
Only a small number of children attending the workshop receive an offer of representation. The casting process can be a difficult and daunting process so the agency needs to be sure that every child they accept is happy and confident in that environment. The child’s looks, talent and personality must all meet casting director expectations and fill a gap in the agency books without imposing direct competition with other children on the books.
The Costs Of Representation
Daisy and Dukes do not charge a registration fee and state this clearly on their website. This is great practice and a clear indication that the agency is successfully generating income from the commission of working clients.
Everyone represented by Daisy and Dukes must attend and pay for the agency photo shoot once a year. This is standard industry practice. By using the same photographer, the agency has the same ‘look’ for their brand which will be recognised by casting directors.
Whilst UK actors and performers can find work through a variety of casting websites, the one which most consistently lists the top quality jobs is Spotlight. Unlike almost all other casting websites, only performers represented by quality agents can join Spotlight. So casting directors have more confidence that a talent threshold has been met if you are a Spotlight member.
It’s not surprising therefore, Daisy and Dukes strongly recommend that you have an active membership profile on Spotlight under the Children & Young Performers directory. The director lists performers aged between 4 and 25 seeking professional acting work.
The annual Spotlight membership fees are paid by actors, or by parents on behalf of child actors. The individual profile is uploaded with headshots, CV and showreel material. The agent then uses the system to submit your child for paid work.
You have the right not to join Spotlight, but that would be foolish because casting directors rarely approach agencies directly. If you want your child to be submitted for work, that happens through Spotlight or another casting website.
Attending Castings Can Be Expensive
You are responsible for all the costs of attending castings, no matter where they are or how little notice you are given. Very occasionally a casting or recall fee is offered, but it is rarely more than a small set fee to cover local travel costs regardless of your actual journey. All the costs of food, clothing and missed income of adult companions fall on you as the parent.
Daisy And Dukes Agency Commission
When you book work, your agent charges you commission. The production team pay the agent, the agent deducts their commission and pays the remainder into your bank account. The bank account must be in the young performer’s own name, regardless of their age. Parents do not receive any payment, even on the promise to give it to their child.
The amount of commission charged by Daisy and Dukes varies according to the type of work undertaken. Between 15% and 25%, the commission rates are fair and reasonable. It’s a higher percentage than some adult agencies charge, but young performers earn less and the agent still has to do the same level of work and bear similar running costs.
Child licensing can be daunting if you have no previous experience of the system. The Daisy and Dukes website gives a nice summary of the legal requirements.
There’s a link on the Daisy and Dukes website to a conversation with Michael Cox, the highly regarded Casting Director of Hammond Cox. He gives some insight into the differences between castings for commercials, international film projects and music videos.