What to Look for in an Agent or Manager

by Ruth Kulerman

Illustration of talent management

Here's what to look for in an agent or manager.

Here's what I believe to be the things to look for when you make the decision to hire a talent agent or manager.

1. If you are looking for a manager, it's best to check to see if they are a member of the National Conference of Personal Managers. That is the legitimizing organization for managers in the US.

2. If you are looking for an agent, be sure to know what area they work in. In the Ross report many agents are registered with all the unions (SAG-AFTRA, AEA, ETC.) and state that they handle stage, film, TV, commercials, print, when actually they only handle commercials.

How can you tell which agents handle what? Ask around. Other actors are your best source.

There are A agents (if you are a newcomer, you will probably get lost in that agency, unless you hit it big the first three or four times they send you out for a legit job--"legit" here refers to stage, film, or TV). And there are agents who just aren't worth your time. They really are too low on the totem pole to get their submission envelopes opened by the casting offices. There are agents at every level in between.

With a manager, you the artist receive the check and then pay the manager the agreed upon percentage. With an agent, the agent receives the check, deposits it, takes his 10% and then mails you a check. This is why you must be very careful to work only with reputable agents, especially print agents. I once had a print agent cheat me out of $400.

What do you need in an agent or a manager?

1. Their enthusiastic willingness to work for you.
2. Someone who knows the business well.
3. Someone who has a good reputation. (Honesty and availability)

Just know this: Most agents are not willing, nor can they afford either time or money, to help you build a career. They want someone who already has a bit of success or someone who has just been graduated from a prestigious university or drama school. Do not depend on an agent or a manager to "make" your career. That is your job. That is why you must continue to work diligently at self-promotion, even if you are signed with an agency.

Do not constantly call or pressure your agent or manager. If they are not working for you, take them out to lunch and talk business. Too many actors say, "My agent isn't getting me any auditions." That may be true, but it does not necessarily means that they are not submitting you.

Before you get an audition you have to be submitted. The real question is why you are not being called in for auditions. You may lack resume credentials or your picture may just not be working. Actors do not realize the amount of money and time that goes into submissions. If you are not being called in after 20 or 30 submissions, look to see if other of their clients are being called in. But also look to see what you can do to improve your chances for getting an audition when submitted. That's where self-promotion plays the major role.
Ruth Kulerman is an actress and coach, known for "The Off Season," "A Walk in the Dark," and "Satan Hates You." Her series of articles is copyright by Chad Gracia and ActorTips. All rights reserved.
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Reader Comments

Hi, i would like to get to acting even though i don't have an experience. How do i get auditions.

Posted by Nontuthuko Nhlumayo (2014-10-19) 7063

i have a story which is real but i will be the actor in that movie ,i am ready to except any challange on my acting and i also need an agent

Posted by sammu singh (2008-09-17) 376

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