Agents and Managers
Do performers and child actors need both an agent and a manager? Before that can be answered lets take a look at what the role of each is.
An agent focuses on getting talent a job and negotiating the contract for that job. Agents are paid by you from the money that you make. Agents will not get paid until you do and are not allowed to charge upfront fees.
Agents have relationships with casting directors and once you get an agent, your agent should send you on auditions with those casting directors. When a casting director needs to fill a role, they contact the agents they work with and those agents will then contact the appropriate actors and send them out on an audition.
Since agents only get paid when their talent does, a good agent will be very particular about who they represent. If an agent takes a talent that they can not book then that agent is working for free and most people do not work for free.
Agents are required to be licensed in most States and most good agents are franchised by one of the Unions.
The Agent Checklist
- Should be franchised by Screen Actors Guild
- Generally licensed by the state as employment agencies
- Primarily focused on obtaining employment and negotiating contracts.
- May have a small or large number of clients
- Generally limited to charging a 10% commission
A manager does not need to be licensed or part of a Union. A manager does not send you on auditions and in NY and CA, managers are not allowed to even try to get you work directly. What a manager does is try to give your career a direction and set you on the right path. A manager can recommend an agent for you and some managers work closely with agents.
A manager will charge more than an agent. Managers are not regulated and can charge what they like, however 15% to 20% is standard. Yes, you pay your manager 20% of everything you make so make sure that having the manager is beneficial to your career. If you have an agent and a manager, the 2 of them may take almost 1/3 of your pay.
Before signing a contract with a manager, make sure that you had an attorney read it and you fully understand the terms.
Since a manager takes a part of ALL your earnings, the last thing you want is a bad manager that does nothing to help you that you must turn over your money to. Yep, many contracts are written to pay the manager whether he helped you or not. If you have a manager, hear about an open casting call from your local paper, go there on your own and land the gig, you will still have to pay your manager a part of your pay.
So make sure you know the deal, researched the manager and are ready for it before committing by signing that contract.
The Manager Checklist:
- Not licensed by the State, or franchised by the unions.
- May counsel, advise and provide general career direction
- May assist an agent in securing employment for their clients (In NY and CA, they are not permitted to obtain employment without working with a licensed agent).
- Generally has fewer clients than an agent.
- Generally charges 15-20%.
- You should always have an attorney review a management contract before signing. Since they are not franchised, and often unregulated, it’s important to fully understand the terms and conditions of the relationship.
So the answer to — do you need an agent and a manager? Is a No for beginning actors but managers do become important for handling the business part of things as an actor becomes more famous and busy.
A beginning actor will not get get many requests for interviews, events, photo shoots to schedule. An actor just starting can usually do a lot of what a manager does on their own. In the world of Child actors, the role of manager is usually taken by the parent – you know, the momager!