They are referred to as “talent manager” and “talent agent” in Hollywood. These two can be confusing professions for someone new to the acting world or industry. They however are very similar in that they both have the interest of the actor/ actress in mind, but are very different in that one focuses on one lane and another is all rounded. However an actor/actress needs both a manager and an agent working for them in order to be successful.
Let us look at the job responsibilities of each separately, in order to see the clear differences.
Managers are independent. They are not licensed by the state thus can be family or friends to the actor/actress.
Theirs is a long-term career. It starts with sometimes taking up an actor long before they have established themselves in Hollywood, to way after their career is full blown. Their pay therefore is higher than that of an agent.
They usually end up genuinely caring for their clients, after being in their lives, watching out for them, protecting their careers and continuing to believe in them even after everyone else has given up, for some years. Therefore they become like family.
Their main job is to manage the actor’s career. This means, handle public relations and sometimes speak on a client’s behalf, arrange appearances and interviews that the actor will attend, handle business matters on behalf of the actor, generally their goal is to make their client successful.
They advise their clients on which agencies to meet with for representation and which agents they should consider to employ, interpret contracts, compensations and such to their clients.
Some managers are very hands on, meaning they give instructions rather than advise. They determine where the actor will do what they need to do, from where to get their hair done to the photographer who will take their photos.
In order for their clients to get auditions, managers help them with their resume and promote them to the industry professionals. After scoring a role, a client will always call their manager if there is a problem on set, and so will the director. A manager really is the liaison between the two.
They determine their client’s strengths and find out the best roles for them to play. They are honest with their clients and advise them on improving their talent, if needed, that is whether to take on acting or coaching classes, they’ll advise on the agency and at times even the teacher.
They ensure that their clients are listed on casting agencies and that their membership is current with collective guilds and unions.
An agent has to be licensed by the state. This is someone who has a lot of contacts and thus will always have firsthand information on upcoming auditions that an actor/actress would not necessarily be aware of.
They are hired by an actor/actress to arrange auditions for them otherwise their career would be dead without agents.
In some cases one can hire more than one agent depending on the exclusivity of representation.
An agent’s main job is to get auditions for their client. They submit pictures to the directors and studios seeking actors/ actresses. Therefore their pay is not nearly as high as that of a manager.
Once their client has scored a role, they negotiate the pay and the contract for their client to sign.
Unlike a manager who sometimes starts with an artist from the beginning, agents mostly approach and work with established actors and actresses.