Who Does What: Your Agent Is Not Your Manager

There’s a saying that goes, “The definition of unhappiness is when reality does not meet expectation.” This could easily account for so many talent wasting as much time as they do either crabbing about their agents or their lack of representation, as the case may be. Perhaps if they knew what to realistically expect from a potential talent agent then the likelihood of BOTH being a great deal happier would increase exponentially.

Certainly the main reason you need and want an agent is because they have access to the work you’re best suited to land, work you aren’t likely to get on your own, and they can assess and articulate your value and worth to those most likely to hire you. To add to this they receive a mere 10% of what you’re paid for their expertise and insight, and only after you book the job. 15 – 20% if they happen to be a non-union agent.

The fact is you’re expected to arrive on your potential agent’s doorstep well trained and prepared to deliver your best. You’re expected to provide your agents with current promotional tools if you intend to work at all. Instead, better than 80% of all would-be talent settle for ‘close enough’ when it comes to their demos, headshots and training, and the result is being the least valuable talent on the agents’ talent roster, if not a complete and utter failure. The phrase ‘cheap is very expensive’ comes to mind. Nevertheless, this factor could account for either narrowing the odds in your favor, or not.

Agents will only consider adding you to their roster if they feel you and your promotional tools, depict a confident, reliable, competitive professional. These essential industry tools are what gets you in the door, and the initial reason the agent will even consider working with you. You may be an exceptional human being and the next Meryl Streep talent-wise, but it will die with you if you don’t supply the necessary tools that define you as the serious, professional you purport to be.

Your entire objective is to instill confidence instead of expecting to be molded and modified. That’s not your agent’s job.

The thing is your agent is NOT your manager, and they aren’t your publicist, either. In most cases, you’re responsible for those duties, especially at the onset of your career.

For the record, a publicist helps guide your reputation, what you’re known for, and ultimately assists you in securing positive media attention. Whereas, a manager will guide your training and promotions with the intention of establishing or furthering your career toward consistent profitable employment. They typically charge a monthly fee, and, once you book, they will charge you a percentage of whatever you’ll make from the projects you land in addition to your talent agent’s commission. And in some cases in addition to their own monthly fee, depending on the specific arrangement. Additionally, managers advise you on who you should train with, where to get your headshots taken, choose the most effective “looks” for the career you’re collectively crafting, maintain your Actors Access and Casting Networks pages, and even schedule meetings/auditions with various casting directors until you secure representation with a talent agent. You’ll pay for each of these essential career components your manager suggests, per your arrangement. Managers ultimately shape the forward trajectory of your ever-evolving career.

You may have thought a talent agent managed all of these duties. Nope. It’s up to you to make your agent look good, not the other way around.

An agent may initially meet with you because a friend referred you, but they can’t honestly move forward until you supply them with the key components that will arrive before you’re even given an audition. Certainly your talent agent will tell you if they require modifications to your demos, headshots and such in order to accommodate the producers they service most.

In short, to be valuable and book-able as a talent, it falls to you to be reliable, prepared, accountable, and personable. Your agent depends on it, and so does your career.

Copyright © 2016 by Kate McClanaghan, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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