What Does an
Actor's Manager Do?
You want to become an actor, but you have no experience and no idea where to start.
While you may dream of hitting the big screen, or following in the footsteps of your idols, getting to that position can feel almost impossible. How do you turn your passion into a career?
If you are an actor with no experience, it can feel very overwhelming. From audition tapes to acting classes, networking to building a portfolio, it can be a tricky path to navigate. But don’t worry, we all have to start somewhere. The likes of Chris Hemsworth and Margot Robbie had to begin their journey from scratch.
Just because you lack experience, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful acting career. Here at Hunter Talent, we discover the brightest talents and pair them with the perfect opportunities. This could be you.
So, Where Do You Begin?
The best place to start is at the beginning, and by that we mean take some time to research and figure out what it is you want to do. It’s wise to ask yourself how much you really know about the acting industry.
Studying and researching each area of the industry will only benefit you. It will give you a better understanding of how the business works. Maybe you acted in a school musical or joined the youth theatre, but do you know anything about marketing or acting agencies?
Building your knowledge will also build your confidence so that you know exactly where you’re going to go in the next step.
Every actor’s journey is unique, so bear this in mind as you formulate a plan. As you educate yourself, start setting realistic goals that can help you move one step forward.
Another reason to delve deeper into the industry is to decide whether acting really is for you. Acting is one of the most competitive jobs. As you unearth the realities of acting, you might realise that this isn’t a sustainable career choice for you.
Rejection is one of the toughest elements in this kind of career, and it’s worth thinking about how well you deal with rejection. This is before even considering the lifestyle choices you will need to make (including your finances) as you begin building your portfolio.
It is possible to achieve your acting dreams, but it’s wise to really consider your dedication to the industry.
Once you’ve gained a better understanding, now you can focus on your acting studies. Before you approach the auditions stage, you need to hone your craft. Here are some books to get you started.
Reading about the best techniques won’t be enough. Make sure you apply the techniques you learn to your practice.
Being an actor isn’t one and a million pipe-dream that many people make it out to be. In America, the union for film actors supports 160,000 working actors, and Actors Equity — the union for stage actors — supports over 50,000.
This means that across these two industries there are over 200,000 working actors who are relying full-time on acting for livelihood, healthcare, and protection.
To be an actor, you need to come prepared. Many people have heard of agents — but what does an actor’s manager do?
If you’ve found yourself asking these questions, you’ve come to the right place. Being an actor is just like any other job. It’s perfectly possible if you know what you’re talking about.
This article will walk you through everything you need to know about an actor’s manager.
What’s the Difference Between an Agent and a Manager?
To understand managers for actors, the benefits of a manager, and how to choose an actor’s manager, you’re going to first need to understand the difference between an actor’s manager and an agent.
Many people use the terms interchangeably, but this will only lead to confusion. Learn to understand what an agent does, so you can better differentiate them from managers.
What Does An Agent Do?
Agents are all about business, business, business. They seek out talent, make connections for them, and get them work.
Agents generally have a lot of actors that they represent. You can think of it as a roster. They make note of your appearance, demeanour, and what sort of roles you’re best able to play, that way if they get a call from a producer who needs someone who looks/acts like you, they can put that producer in touch with you.
Agents can negotiate deals for you and sign contracts. They can even send in your materials for you, so you might get offers for roles you never applied for.
Getting an agent is an extremely important part of becoming an actor, but there are some downsides. Your agent’s business sense means that you won’t get to know them very well. They won’t be available for career advice, and this can get in your way sometimes.
If you’re looking for guidance and career advice, your best bet is a manager.
What Does an Actor’s Manager Do?
Where an agent helps you find a job, a manager helps you build a career. They take your ambition and help you break them down into actionable steps. They can also take your small steps and remind you of the big picture.
Managers are able to do this because they take in a smaller client base, allowing them to focus on each one of their actors. Managers aren’t all business: they’re personality, taste, ambition, and confidence. Your manager won’t just tell you to get new headshots, they’ll tell you what angle you look best from, who the best photographers are, and which ones you should bring to the agent, and how you look best.
Where agents scope out roles for you that you’ll be good for like a hawk spotting a rabbit, a manager has time to break these roles down and analyse. An agent might pass up on a small role that doesn’t pay very much in favour of having you apply for a big TV series — but the manager will look further and see that that small role means you’ll be working with one of your favourite directors, opposite one of the best actors in the world.
If your question is — what does a manager do for an actor? — the answer is whatever is best for you. A manager has time to listen to your problems and help you get on the right track. A manager will hear you out when you’re complaining that you keep getting pigeonholed into the same type of roles and express this to the agent, so you can be put forward for any role you suit.
Their empathy, time, and energy are one of the biggest benefits of a manager.
Actor vs Manager Conclusion
An agent is an important step for any actor to reliably find work. Every actor should be working towards getting themselves a talent agent. However, if you’re ready to start turning your job into a vocation, it’s time to find yourself a manager.
Do You Need a Manager to Be An Actor?
You don’t need to book a manager in order to work as an actor. However, a manager can help you go from someone knocking at the door of the industry, occasionally to be let in as a guest, to someone who’s constantly invited to the party.
If you’re looking to improve your reel, improve your aesthetic, improve your reputation, improve your headshots, and improve your prospect, a manager could be right for you. An agent will help you slay some giants, but a manager will equip you with weapons and armour to slay bigger giants in the future.
Show business is never easy, and there are many problems in the worlds of film and theatre. An actor’s manager will help you navigate the weird world of show business so that you profit without being exploited.
The answer to whether you need a manager to be an actor is complicated. An early-career actor should focus on getting an agent, for without an agent they might never establish a consistent work schedule, and never build up their resume.
However, an actor who’s towards the middle of their career, or has had a lot of early success and is willing to pay a little extra money to give their career a boost, should certainly consider getting an actors’ manager. You’ll be giving a cut of your commissions to both your agent and your manager, so make sure you can support this.
Actors later in their career will sometimes end up with an agent, a manager, and a lawyer, to make sure they have all of their bases covered. If you’re looking to take your career to the next level, a manager might be right for you.
How to Choose an Actor’s Manager
There are many agents out there — so how do you choose the correct one?
The first thing you need to do is make sure that the manager is legitimate. Search the internet for information on the manager’s and see who their clients are. Are these clients who are finding gainful, meaningful work that they’re getting paid for?
Make sure that your manager doesn’t ask for any money upfront. Managers should always work on commission. Paying your manager a percentage of what you make ensures that the manager is working for you, not for themselves.
Call up the actors union and ask around the industry — perhaps even put a post on a Facebook group you belong to for actors. Make sure that no one has complained about a manager before. People will be willing to share their information with you and help you out.
Your manager also needs to work well with your agent. Make sure you have a manager who’s personable, and able to communicate with your agent. This will optimise your workflow.
Figure out how big your manager’s client list is. The last thing you want when trying to gain the benefits of a manager is finding out that they have a list as big an agent.
Last but not least, it could be to your advantage to hire a multi-faceted manager. If your manager works with writers and directors, they may be able to put you in touch with them to work on projects.
Make sure you don’t rely on a manager for everything. The more time the manager spends with you, the less time they can spend getting you work. Master auditioning, put yourself out there at many auditions, and always do your best on every single set.
Boost Your Career
Being an actor is just like any job — there’s work you have to put in, in order to get things out. Acting isn’t impossible, it’s just a matter of knowing the industry and knowing how to navigate it.
Now that you know the answer to the question of what does an actor’s manager does, the next move is yours. Is it your time to get a manager now, or should you wait a bit? Consider all of the above information to boost your acting career.