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Your talent manager can be thought of as the quarter back of your team, working side by side with you into championship levels within every aspect of your career. Contact with management should be constant..not a once a month "how are you"...or..."have you caught any surf waves lately" but consistent communication to understand what's working in your daily steps and what's not, adding critical strategy to what decisions will make a better you. Many beginning actors/actresses think that Talent Managers and Talent Agents are one in the same. Although some responsibilites of both are the same, the primary roles differ.

Questions and.. Answers

What's a talent manager?

A Manager's responsibility is primarily centered around developing the client. This can range from resume building, auditioning skills, strengthening an actor's professionalism to choosing headshot photographers and coaching for meetings with Casting Directors and Agents. A Manager helps to bring all of the points of the team (attorney, publicist, agent, etc.) together in one place so the actor doesn't get hit in six different places at once. It's important to be clear, however, that the manager's responsibility is NOT to procure employment or gigs. This is where the agent shines, and with the combinations of the two, your brand should essentially become an A-team.

What's the difference between an agent and a manager? Do I need both?

Tough question, and there isn't a black and white answer. This is something that you, as a talented individual building a brand should consider..and then reconsider with each step of your growth. Agents hunt for the work and the projects for you to perform and display your talents. The Manager helps make better decisions, organize the growth of your career based on those projects, spots weakness, keeps the Agent's focus clear on you, and build you as a brand. However, it's important to understand that the Manager's job changes with the actor's career and every aspect of the growth of that career, whereas an Agent's focus is to find something for you to do during that career.

So why can't a manager just get the project for me?

Law varies from state to state, however, the most recognized laws are found in the States of California and New York. Per CA. law section 1700.6 of the Labor Code, also known as the "Talent Agencies Act", a licensed agent is the only lawful individual or company to pursue employment for a talent. It's not to say that a manager couldn't get a license, but they must in order to abide by this law. On the other hand, the State of Georgia has no such restrictions nor law.

 Team work. There are many moving parts in the industry of film making and no single point should become the weakest link in your steel chain. Football has quarterbacks and then receivers and kickers, basketball has point guards, then centers and forwards; beaches have more than one lifeguard! However you want to think about it, the team is what builds you, someone chasing the casting directors while another is submitting you to another role as the lawyer ok's the contract for your gig next week.


Nope. Your manager is your MANAGER. Not a distant or random person submitting or just finding more work. You should choose one guide to your ship.

Can I do this myself?

Sure you can. Deciding who to add and subtract from your team is a give and take of your abilities. If you chose not to have a lawyer, then hopefully you've got a good book to help you dechiper contracts; no Agent..then hopefully you have a good cold calling background. True, these team members take a share in the form of commission, but in many cases, it's worth it and more.

i just woke up this morning and decided to be an actor! how do i hire you?!

We'll be honest with this.

There is a degree of education. hustle. anxiety. success. failure. struggle...that an actor is expected to conquer on their own for their "Company". If simple questions like 'how to audition' 'what is a callsheet' 'what does a resume look like' comes to mind then it's recommended that you go through that learning process first before adding a rep to your team. The beginning of your career, in reality, isn't likely going to start with an actor running to 9 auditions everyday right off the bat, and booking a huge show with a huge role. It's going to start with the actor knowing how to present themselves with basic materials in hand & at least a bare knowledge of what they're for. This industry is built for those with the fortitude to be in it for the long run with and the tenacity to get their ass kicked Monday to Thursday but wake up Friday just to do it all again; but this time with even more determination. Don't spin the wheels of a new rep with newbie stuff. There are too many books, classes, youtube videos, google searches and other resources for an actor to not be moderately prepared.

What are the upfront fees / Commission?

The first lesson in your Talent Representation Search 101 course is this; no one gets paid until the talent gets paid. Period. The basis of commission by percentage is the backbone of this industry. If there is any entitity (company or individual) that is telling you otherwise or forcing you into spending into their direction, it may be time to consider other options.

Managers are paid on a commission basis on all bookings, in addition to your agent.  Managers don't operate on a 'who found it first' regimen as your manager works in tandum with you during your career growth as a partner; and as that growth develops; it's apart of the manager's order of duties to protect that brand by keeping gears in motion.

Agent or Manager? 12 Factors You Should Consider.

What should I do if I don't understand?

Ask questions! Managers are the folks who can help you understand and learn how to make your way through the industry with a minimum amount of pain. The desire for success means that you have to ask questions especially when you are at the beginning of your journey. The biggest mistake is not questioning, thus attempting to do what you might shouldn't.

What are SAG and AFTRA?

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA) are performers' unions. Both SAG and AFTRA negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements that establish levels of compensation, benefits, and working conditions for its performers and support compensation collection. These two organzations mereged to become SAG/AFTRA, a union of professional actors.

Articles to reference

5 Reasons Why Actors seek Personal Managers - by Brian O'Neil (

How Can Actors Help Their Managers do Their Job? - by Jessica Gardner (

6 Things You Should Know Before Hiring A Manager - by David Dean Bottrell (

Why Everyone is Paying More for a Manager - by Gavin Polone (

The Difference Between Agents and Managers - by Bonnie Gillespie

The Difference Managers and Agents - JVA Atlanta


Publications - For You Academic Scholars

Agents and Managers - University of Iowa - by R. Spencer

Talent Agents, Personal Managers, and Their Conflicts in the New Hollywood - by David Zelenski (Southern California Law Review in 2003, 76 S. Cal. L. Rev. 979)