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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Agents and Managers: Defined

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One of the first questions that actors ask is what agents and managers charge. Short and sweet, here is some basic information about payment that actors make to agents and managers. But first...

General Glossary of Terms

Agent: An individual or organization that bargains on behalf of the actor in contract agreements. The agent is the one who negotiates any pay above the union minimum (or total pay, for non-union folks). They also negotiate other terms of talent contracts, including (but not limited to) name billing, merchandising, accommodations, work schedule, etc. Agents also bargain with casting directors to get their clients seen by the casting office for specific projects, and act as a “voucher” for actor talent and suitability for specific projects. Agents and their agencies are regulated by their individual Department of State offices, as well as their “franchise” agreement with the unions.

Manager: An individual or organization who helps guide an actor’s career. Managers take a more personal role in working with an actor on improving their position in the industry, including (but not limited to) selecting scripts, setting up meetings with casting directors and producers, introducing actors to higher level agents (when appropriate.) Managers also help actors create a brand image for themselves and then help the actor assemble a team of folks to help in the pursuit of a larger career, including publicists, stylists and other handlers. Managers are not bound by state or union contracts, but there are several membership organizations for managers that require their members adhere to a specified code of ethics.

Franchise Agreement: A contract that an agent has executed with a union agreeing to a certain list of standards (like percentage of pay) with the governing unions (for example, SAG for film, AFTRA for TV, AEA for theater)

Gross Pay: Your full pay, before taxes and fees

Pay Details

Union (Franchised) Film/TV/Theater/Commercial Agents: 10% of gross pay

Non-Union (Non-Franchised) Film/TV/Theater/Commercial Agents: between 10%-20% gross pay

Print Agents (no unions cover print): Typically 20% gross pay

Managers: Typically 15-20% gross pay

So, this means that someone with both an agent and a manager would be paying somewhere close to 25% (or more) of their gross pay to their team. Assuming you also pay approximately 25% in taxes- this doesn’t leave that much for your income! So think clearly before you opt to add either (or both) to your team, and choose your team wisely!

Have any questions about agents and managers? Let me know by emailing me or leaving a comment, and I can either update this article or post another!

UPDATE: In response to one of the comments left, I have written another blog post going further in depth about agents and managers. Read the comments below, and then take a look at the post here.

Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out

2 COMMENTS - Click to READ:

Anonymous said...

Interesting! Do actors often have both an agent and a manager? Don't they generally have one or the other?

Erin Cronican said...

Great question! Twill be answered in next blog!

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