It would seem that unless you work in the arts, you really wonder why actors sometimes hire both an agent and a talent manager. This practice began as far back as the early 1900’s, in Hollywood, California, when the motion picture industry first took root. Back then, as it is today, whenever an actor, director, stage hand, gaffer, etc., completes a film, he becomes out of work. Just like in almost every other industry, when one is unemployed, he has to go looking for his next job. When this happens, all actors, directors, etc., need to engage an employment agency to solicit their next assignment. The only exception would be a well-known celebrity, whose career has become so successful that he can just sit back and consider all of the requests he receives for his services. He does not have to have any help in attaining his next job. Most actors have not yet become household names and therefore, they really do need an agent.
An agent is responsible for taking a daily inventory of what type of actors the casting directors are seeking. They subscribe to an online service that comes into their computers all day long. This information contains hundreds of acting jobs, along with the name of the casting director, the title of the project, the names of each role, the approximate shooting schedule and a brief story line. Each agent goes through his client roster and tries to match his clients to those roles. Once they have determined which of their clients are appropriate for those roles, they proceed to submit them to the casting directors. They have two methods for making these submissions. They will either make an electronic submission via the Internet, or hand those actors’ photos and resumes to a courrier for delivery to the casting directors. While all of this is going on at the agency, the staff is taking a multitude of phone calls. They are usually from various casting directors, calling to arrange appointments for the agency’s clients, or to hire their actors. On that rare moment when the phones are not ringing off the hook, those agents are phoning the casting directors and calling their attention to their submissions. When an agent is asked to hire one of his clients, it becomes his job to negotiate that artist’s salary. For this reason, a talent agent is required by law to have an employment license. Sometimes, the number of clients for whom they work overwhelms talent agents. When this happens, it is not humanly possible for them to remember all of them. This is one reason why an actor hires a talent manager.
Managers have established relationships with the agencies, allowing them to be able to remind them of their actors. Sometimes, a casting director has recently interviewed an actor, and a new project comes up for which this artist is really well suited. The manager will have the ability to phone his client’s agent to remind them of both this job and the fact that this actor just met that casting director. Occasionally, an actor needs help selecting and/or soliciting an agent. It is a talent manager’s job to acquire agents for his clients. Between their busy telephone and their need to make timely submissions for their clients, they are far too busy to take the time to council their actors. The actor might need a little more information regarding his character, his wardrobe selection, and his appointment time for his upcoming audition. He might be asked to perform at the same time as he has booked another job. It is his manager’s job to provide this help. Keeping track of their clients’ schedule is one of the most critical parts of a talent manager’s job. This includes both the artist’s appointments for auditions, as well as his personal agenda. In this way, the manager can see that his actors are not over-booked. He can also prevent an agent from looking foolish for submitting an actor at a time when he is not available. As this does involve an actor’s “personal” time, sometimes talent managers are referred to as “personal managers”.
by Denise Denny