Acting Manager vs. Agent

Acting Manager vs Agent

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  1. Who Is an Acting Manager?
  2. What Is an Acting Agent?
  3. Can a Manager Act as an Agent?
  4. Agent Vs. Manager: What's the Difference?

Although talent agents and managers may execute similar functions, they have distinct differences. When looking for representation as an actor, it's important to know the defining factors and the basics, especially if you want to create an effective team that can help advance your career.

Who Is an Acting Manager?

An Acting Manager is an individual who guides the professional career of an actor in the entertainment industry.

Think of the Acting Manager as a talent manager who helps develop the skills and manage an actor's career.

Moreover, to effectively manage the actor's career, the Acting Manager takes on several roles; here are a few of them. 

  • They advise and counsel you.

They give you advice and counseling on acting pictures and resumes, what roles to go for, what areas of training to focus on, how to market yourself, and how to take your career to the next level. 

Some acting managers even go as far as to coach you for an important audition or help you select the right wardrobe for your headshots.

  • They help you build a team.

They help you put together a team as you grow as an actor.

The team usually comprises an agent, a publicist, a business manager, and an attorney. They also coordinate everyone in the team to further your career.

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  • They promote and network for you:

They network for you and generally facilitate you in getting the next acting job.

An acting manager with solid experience in the field will have several industry contacts they can call on or be called occasionally.

This networking allows them to get the acting portfolio or casting profile of the actor in front of people who matter, such as the casting directors, producers, directors, and the major decision-makers in the film industry.

What Is an Acting Agent?

Acting Agents, also known as talent or booking agents, are licensed entertainment industry professionals who locate and negotiate work and contracts for performers. Many agents have connections with various production studios and casting directors and often use these relationships to book clients for well-paying and notable opportunities.

They are the middleman between the talents and their employers. To be precise, acting agents submit their clients for auditions, pitch them for roles, and follow up on submissions and auditions.

They also negotiate better-pay contracts and renegotiate existing contracts.

How they go about these varies; some operate on-site while others prefer a remote situation. Some can be highly selective— representing only a few clients, while others can be more diverse.

A good agent is personally invested in your career as an actor. They pitch you for all the right roles, generate auditions, and advocate on your behalf. 

Bear in mind that agents are employed by agencies, not by actors. You're an agent's client, not their boss. 

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Can a Manager Act as an Agent?

Legally, it is against the law.

Agents are the only people who can solicit employment for clients and negotiate and sign a contract for a client to work on a production.

It is against the law for a manager to negotiate or sign a contract on behalf of a client.

Managers are also not allowed to set up auditions or negotiate contracts.

In states such as New York and California, there are dire consequences for anyone who intentionally or unintentionally blurs the two.

However, managers who want to keep their clients happy will do their best to get auditions. While they won't work on contracts directly, they will be actively involved in all negotiations. Some managers who work at management agencies that have agency licensing responsibilities can perform some tasks only agents can legally complete, such as submitting talent for roles or reviewing character breakdowns published by casting directors.

Agent Vs. Manager: What's the Difference?

Despite the blurry lines and the occasional overlap between the two jobs, managers and agents have distinct roles in the entertainment industry. These are the differences.

License and legalities.


A good number of managers in the country operate without receiving a license to practice as a manager.

They do not have to be employed by a management company, as their sole function is to guide their clients.

They are free to work independently, as a freelancer or business owner.

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An agent works for a talent agency licensed by the state and sometimes franchised by the union. That gives them the legal right to solicit employment for clients and negotiate contracts on their behalf.

Some states also require agents to earn a license before practicing as an agent. The requirements for this license are dependent on the state. 

Client relationship.


A considerable amount of managers work closely with clients so that they can provide them with an intimate and attentive service. 

They may also handle all aspects of a client's career rather than focusing solely on one area, like agents often do.


Agents spend the majority of their time finding opportunities for clients and only communicate with them once they have located these jobs. They may then work with the production company to negotiate contract details and relay this information to the client.

A client might utilize multiple agents for different aspects of their career.

For example, an actor might have separate agents for theater and commercial jobs. Clients usually only have one manager who may help them find agents and book more jobs.

Client rosters.


This is one of the biggest differences between agents and managers. Because they are primarily focused on an actor's employment, a talent agent might have a roster that features hundreds of clients. 

An average agent represents more than 150 clients, as more clients mean more potential working actors and, therefore, more commissions for the agent.


A talent manager, however, has a much smaller list of clients. The best ones work with fewer than 20 actors. In theory, that allows them to give their clients more personal attention. 

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Agents only get paid a percentage of work in the area where they represent their clients.

You are paying them for acting on your behalf in negotiating, reading, approving, and signing your contract. Union franchised agents are not allowed to take any more than 10% of their client's earnings. According to SAG-AFTRA, agents must not charge up-front fees of any kind.


Managers can get a percentage of anything you book in all areas. The percentage varies from 10-20%. 

For example, if you only have a commercial agent and book a theater role, you would not pay a commission to your agent, but you would pay 15%

to your manager whether you book a commercial, a film, or a play.


The most significant difference between a talent agent and a talent manager has to do with their area of emphasis.


A talent agent focuses on employment. Their primary job is to submit you for available acting jobs, help you secure work in the entertainment business, and negotiate contracts.

Though an agent might help an actor find the tools they need to succeed, such as acting classes and headshot photographers, for the most part, agents normally take a more hands-off approach to an actor's overall career, outside of finding an actor lucrative employment.

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While an acting manager is also concerned about an actor's employment, they take a much broader stance. Their focus is on navigating an actor's overall career trajectory.

They focus closely on developing the client's career, skill set, talent, and status. They share advice and guidance to increase the marketability of their clients and identify any key goals to help clients reach through their work.

They take a very hands-on approach to all areas of an actor's career and even their personal lives. A manager will ensure an actor secures things like marketable headshots, a reputable talent agent, or an effective demo reel.

A manager is more concerned about where an actor's career will be in a few years, whereas a talent agent is more interested in where an actor's career is right now.



By law, an agent must work out of an office. 


A manager can work anywhere.

And there you go! That's all you need to know about the differences between an Agent and a Manager. Now, you can make an educated decision on who you need at your career level.

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