I am going to start this blog post by sharing an unsolicited email I recently received from a “manager.” (Note: All grammar and spelling has been included, as originally written.)
"I was looking on IMDB and noticed you do not have a Talent Manager. As you may know we are doing Talent Management.. A manager is different from an agent but in a way better as I have more fields to get you work. I feel I could be a great assett to you to help you not only get your more acting roles but we are doing something no other Management firm does. We are also going to provide free to our clients our Publicity Services. We are a NON-EXCLUSIVE company so if at anytime you want to end services with us that is ok. I really hope you will give me a chance to further your career and make you more money. If you are interested please let me know and I'll send you my information packate." - Mike [click his name to visit his website]
File this one away into the “If it seems too good to be true, it is” mailbox. Of course, there are warning signs all over the above email that tell the actor that they should stay far away. So, how does an actor gauge the validity of these types of emails, which become more numerous as the actor gets more and more well known?
1) Does the manager know the difference between managers and agents? (Do you?)
Agents and managers are very different from one another, primarily because it is illegal for managers to procure work for their clients. Agents are required to be on file with their state as a “licensed employment agent” and managers are not given this clearance. Thus, a manager’s job takes on a different form. Directly from the Talent Manager’s Association website: “A manager, by nature, does not seek employment for a client, but rather council, market and network on their behalf making it easier for the agent to secure employment. A client, manager and agent should function as a team.”
You can see by the email above that the manager is not accurately conveying his role. This should be a very big “red flag” to you.
2) Why are they contacting YOU?
Yes, we are all fabulous, and we usually feel we deserve to be represented. But, as I said on a recent post on the Backstage message boards if you are ready to seek management, you want to seek out a management company that has a good track record and a solid client base. Typically, companies that fall in that category do not need to troll the internet to locate new clients, and they don’t typically seek to represent actors with small resumes. To get to know up-and-coming actors, managers spend time seeing plays, going to film festivals, and taking meetings via referrals. They may use IMDB or the actor’s website as a research tool, but rarely do solid companies “discover” talent on the web. So you have to ask yourself- if it is normally so difficult to be represented, why has THIS offer come so easily?
3) Does the email appear to be well written? If they give you a website to check out, does it inspire your confidence?
There are misspellings and bad grammar all over this email. Even if the manager were legitimate, would you want someone representing you when they cannot put together a coherent email?
4) Does the contact information make sense and seem professional?
Often, when you try to verify their contact information, you’ll notice discrepancies in the information. In the above example, Mike gave me a web address for his company, but his email address came from a completely different company. Upon researching him, I discovered that his company was primarily a Publicity Company, where they pay actors to attend parties and events. Also, take note of where their office is located. I am based in NYC and this company is based in LA - it doesn’t really make sense for them to represent me from the opposite coast unless I plan to make a move out west.
Many actors ignore that voice of warning in their head because it feels so good to believe that we are being handed our big break. Believe me, I know- I’m an actor, just like you. I hustle, just like you. I taste the wins and the losses as sweetly and bitterly as you do. But I believe that if you do your homework and listen to your gut, you can protect yourself from those unsavory characters who prey on your dreams and desires.
PS: This article pertains, also, to those folks out there who randomly email actors about mailing autographed headshots. I regularly report these requests on my acting blog to help other actors research the requests, and one in particular has resulted in a very strange, stalker-like situation. Check out this blog post for more information (and be sure to read the comments!)
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 http://www.theactorsenterprise.org.