by Joshua Siegel
Not all actors need a manager, but when your life and career become hectic, a manager can help organize, streamline, and guide you.
A manager is a person hired by the actor to find work, give advice, and generally guide the actor's career. For this service, managers typically take a 15% commission on everything the actor earns.
Many people assume that agents and managers are pretty much the same thing. However, managers are prohibited by law from negotiating contracts (at least in California). So even if you have a manager, you will still need either an agent or an attorney familiar with contracts and the entertainment industry. A manager's main focus is on guiding the actor's career and making connections, and although most of the best managers out there are former agents, the two have very different roles.
Unfortunately, some of the most common scams in the entertainment industry involve people who call themselves managers, as this occupation is not regulated by any of the actors unions. These unscrupulous people will often promise the newcomer fame and fortune, but only for an up front fee. Or they will require you to get new headshots, a portfolio, and acting classes (all of which may be either very expensive or totally useless... or both).
With the exception of child actors (who often need extra development and guidance into the business), most actors will not require a manager until they are well on the road to success. If you think you may need a manager, here are a few things to remember when looking for one...
- Management companies usually offer their services in exchange for a 15% commission, though it can sometimes be a little more. A legitimate manager will never ask for money up front.
- A manager may recommend that you get more training or new photos, but should not require you to take a particular class or use a particular photographer as terms of your being a client. Until you're sure a place is legit, don't shell out your hard earned money for services you may not even need.
- A manager should never ask you to disrobe or engage in sexually explicit "scenes".
- Most legitimate managers will never approach an unknown actor. A successful manager is already busy with experienced clients, and you'll have to work hard to get their attention.
- A manager should be well connected in the casting community and entertainment industry in general. Once again... do your research.
National Conference of Personal Managers
964 Second Ave., New York, NY 10022