Acting Managers

What do acting managers do? How are they different from agents? Do you need a personal manager if you have an agent? Where do you find a list of managers to contact? Here you'll find answers to these questions as well as tips on how to pick good talent management companies.

What's a talent manager?

A good personal manager manages your entire acting career:

  • They should give you advice and counseling on acting pictures and resumes, what roles to go for, what areas of training to focus on, how to market yourself and how to take your career to the next level. Some acting managers will even coach you for an important audition or help you select the right wardrobe for your headshots.
  • They should help you build a team (i.e. get an agent, publicist and down the road possibly a business manager and attorney) and as you grow as an actor, coordinate everyone in the team to further your career.
  • They should network for you and generally facilitate you getting the next acting job.

What's the difference between managers and agents?

Unlike agents, acting management companies are not supposed to procure work or negotiate for actors, although many talent managers will send actors who don't have an agent on auditions.

Talent managers take a 15% commission on all your performer earnings, while an agent will take 10% in the area they represent you in (so if you only have a commercial agent and book a theater role, you would not pay a commission to your agent, but you would pay 15% to your manager whether you book a commercial, a film or a play).

Acting agencies are usually regulated by the state. Many states require an acting agent to have a license and post a bond. Some states also require that the agent pay the actor within a certain amount of days and limits the commission an agent can take. ATA and NATR member talent agencies also have agreements with actors' unions. Unlike agents, acting management companies in most states do not need to have a special license. There are many more talent management companies then talent agencies and an actor should do research to make sure a personal manager is legit before signing a contract.

...so do you NEED a manager?

The answer to that question really depends on your situation and the kind of managing you will get.

If you are further along in your career, a manager will organize your busy schedule and help you achieve your long-term goals. If you are just starting out and unable to get an agent, an acting manager can give you access to more auditions and help you get an agent.

Acting is a very competitive career and the more people you have on your side the better. If you find a good personal manager who is well-respected in the industry and will work hard for you, don't hesitate because of the 15% commission. 85% of something is better then 100% of nothing. That being said, if you already have an agent and you find a manager who doesn't do much more then submit actors on auditions, think hard before signing a contract. Having 2 representatives has disadvantages: information can get lost and double submissions often exasperate casting directors.

Bottom line? You may not need an acting manager, but you'll want to sign with a good one.

Where do you find a manager?

The best places to start your search are talent manager organisations. For example, you can visit www.talentmanagers.org and get a list of all their members with information on each management company. Make a note of the ones you are right for and who the contact person is. Avoid buying labels for acting managers. They can be outdated and not represent your type. Do your research, write your own targeted list and make your own labels. You'll end up saving time and money when you mail your headshot and resume.

How to pick a good manager

Here are a few tips to help you pick a good personal manager:

  • Make sure the manager is legit. Don't sign with anyone who charges a fee for representation or requires that you take a specific class or get your headshots taken by a photographer of their choice. You can also call actors' unions and the Better Business Bureau to see if anyone has filed a complaint about a particular personal manager. Check if the manager belongs to an organization that has its own rules and code of ethics, like the National Conference of Personal Managers.
  • A manager needs to be well connected and respected in the industry. Ask acting teachers, fellow actors and casting directors who has heard the name of the talent management company in question. Of course, if you are starting an acting career, you may have no choice but to pick a manager who is also starting out. If that's the case, ask the manager for references and call up a few actors he or she already represents.
  • Your acting manager needs to be able to work well with your agent, so discuss your plans of signing with a particular manager with your agent beforehand.
  • Find out how big the management company's client list is. This is important since acting managers need to be able to give you a lot of personalized attention.
  • Note that a manager who represents other artists, like writers, directors and producers, is particularly valuable, since it will allow you to build relationships and audition for whichever of their clients' projects you are right for.

Hope all this information helps you pick the perfect manager for you.

If you want to know how to get an acting manager, click here and follow the same steps you would to get an agent.

May your phone ring off the hook with calls for auditions from talent management companies!



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