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So You Want to be an Actor...Straight Talk With Kimberly

Do I need to get a manager or agent first and what is the difference between the two?

My advice to any new actor is this. Do not get a talent manager until you have something to manage. Managers are similar to agents but they have smaller rosters ( or they should) more time to give individual attention to their clients helping to guide actors through the process of all aspects of the business. A good manager will help their client understand how to set up their casting profiles, choose headshots and format resumes; guiding clients with suggestions of a (variety of acting classes and photographers and letting their clients choose which to use. Side Note: if a manager insist that you only use a person who they suggest and noone else, this could be a red flag and the manager could be getting a kickback of the money that you pay to their referral for their service so beware of these types of managers. A good manager works closely with your talent agent to have a cohesive team with your best interest in mind. Some managers help with wardrobe for auditions, they can help you with self tapes, help connect you to a publicist and other aspects of the business when the time is right.

I suggest that if you are a actor who is going to bring a manager on to the team that you speak to your agent about this. It may feel like Hollywood is a big town but believe it or not most industry professionals know eachother or are familiar with their companies and work.

Some talent agents and managers may work really well together and some may not. A manager may want to take you to another agency too, so it is always a good idea to run it by your agent. In a market like the southeast, when you bring a manager on your team who is from Los Angeles or New York, these managers are sometimes a bit more aggressive with our casting directors and may want to change deals, ask for more money, travel etc (during negotiations, when the actor has already agreed to be a local hire and understood the terms of the job before auditioning) for instance if the actor booked a project filming in the southeast but the actor is from LA or NY. Casting doesn't like drama and therefore, having a pushy manager could be a deal breaker for the actor. Also, in most of my experiences, casting, production and directors really do want to work with as many local talent as possible and they want to work with local agents, so again, having a high pressure out of state manager can cost a deal. My advice is to think about why you feel you need a manager first. Some actors feel that they want to have a manager so they have "another set of eyes" or someone to hold your agent accountable to make sure you are "being taken care of" and getting submitted. As a agent, if you are on my roster, I'm submitting you. If a manager begins to cause too much friction with your agent, a agent could drop you from their roster.

Agents are busy all day and even after the day has ended and on weekends too. We avoid drama at all cost, so again, have those conversations with your agent first if you are concerned that you may need another person to make sure your agent is working for you. Also, be aware that adding a manager will cost you 10-20% extra out of your bookings. When you pay your agent and manager you will pay almost half of your income to them.

Many actors feel that they need a manager to have the connections with agents if you need a agent. Sometimes this is true and sometimes it simply doesn't matter. An actor can easily submit your own materials to agents and they will get back to you if they are interested in meeting you just as they would a manager.

One final note is this information and I'm actually copying it from Backstage in case you may not trust a talent agent blogger (ha). Managers need to have a agent on the team but a agent does not need a manager on the team and legally can negotiate contracts.

"Contracts: Similarly, agents will help you with contracts, but it is illegal for managers to do so. While they can't work on contracts directly, managers are often actively involved in any and all negotiations."

I spent years as a talent manager in Los Angeles so this blog is in no way bashing managers. I work with many really good managers who truly want to be a team player. However, I've also worked with some who have caused issues and ended up being more problematic for my client. Do your research before you decide to bring on another player on your team and make sure everyone will be a good fit and help you in reaching your true potential and finding success in our business.

I hope this information has been helpful to you today. Below are links to some products I have used and or my clients have used and really liked them.

Your friend,


Backdrops (green and blue are best)

Photography Support System

Lapel Microphone currently on sale

Special Deal on Audible Memberships

Books on Acting

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