Apr 08

What Do Talent Managers Do?

When we first started to pursue an acting career for my daughter, I did not know anything about talent managers. I didn’t know what services talent managers provide or how much money we’d  pay for having one.

My daughter’s first talent manager “discovered” her at a talent competition in Charleston, SC. His talent management group wanted to represent her and convinced us to move to California to pursue an acting career.  They started promoting her before we even got to California.

I did not ask a lot of questions because I did not know what to ask. I know now how important it is to ask a lot of questions.

My daughter had been acting professionally in SC for a few months.  I’d never considered going to Los Angeles. In fact, anyone who knew me would never have expected me to leave the Southeast.

Shortly before we left for California, I spoke with Craig Wargo, one of her talent managers.  He told me we had to stay at least 3 straight months, that we should live in Burbank,  and that my daughter should stay in public school. He  even suggested areas in Burbank where we should live.

Less than three weeks after our arrival in California, the talent managers had set up meetings with agents for us, picked out headshots for us, created a resume, and helped us decide on an agency for my daughter.

My daughter’s talent manager gave us information about everything I needed to do to get her ready for acting in LA.  He answered any questions we had. He immediately started trying to get her into auditions.

He was very nice, and my daughter was quite fond of him. He made us feel welcome in LA. He was one of my daughter’s biggest fans, and he was convinced that she could become a successful child actor.

He only had a small number of clients, and he believed in and worked hard for each one.  He also provided coaching for his clients before auditions.

We were fortunate to have found someone like this.

Talent managers do so many things, and at the same time, there is so much variation in what they do. That is one of the reasons it is important to do your research and ask questions.

So how do you answer the question “What do talent managers do?” 

The main purpose of talent managers is to provide guidance and direction for their talent to help them become successful in the entertainment industry.

Talent managers typically help their talent make choices in their day-to-day activities as well as advising them in decisions that will ultimately affect the long-term direction of their careers.

The following are some things that many talent managers do:

  • Prepare talent for meetings with potential talent agencies,
  • Promote talent to talent agencies and set up agency meetings.
  • Help talent decide on a talent agency for representation.
  • Advise talent on acting classes and coaching.
  • Help talent choose a good photographer and pick out headshots.
  • Promote talent to industry professionals to try to help talent get auditions.
  • Prepare resume or advise talent on preparation of a resume.
  • Help make any and all decisions related to talent’s career.
  • Answer questions on anything related to a career in show business.

Some (not very many) talent managers also provide coaching for talent before auditions. Audition coaching can be quite costly, so this is a real plus if the talent manager is good at coaching.

Talent managers are investing their time and effort into a long-term career for their clients. They typically work with their clients over a period of a number of years.

It is important that you find a talent manager who really believes in your child and who will work hard to promote your child.

Many talent managers have a trial period for their clients, and that may be with a verbal or with a signed contract. Then based on your child’s progress in the trial period, the talent manager will probably request that you sign a contract for from one to three years.

Some talent managers give very specific instructions on every little step that you make in the entertainment industry, including exactly what acting teacher and coaches to use, what photographer to use, where to get your haircut, and so on.

Others have much more flexibility and only give you suggestions for these things.

It is up to you to think about this and decide which type of manager is better for you and your child.

It is also up to you to ask potential managers questions to find out more about how they work. Since there is so much variation in how talent managers work, what services they provide, and exactly what they expect of you and your child, you need to prepare a list of questions to ask them before you sign.

Talent managers typically take 15% of talent’s pay for their services, though some take 10% and others take up to 25% (or possibly even more). Reputable talent managers only get paid commissions from the money earned by their talent.

The talent manager will still collect commissions from money your child receives when you are no longer with that talent manager if it is for work done by your child while under contract with that manager.

You should never pay talent managers money up front for their services.

Since talent managers are not regulated by the State of California, it is up to you to make sure that a talent manager does not take advantage of you.

Research potential talent managers in forums and on the internet and ask other industry professionals for an opinion before proceeding. And do not pay any fees or other money in advance to a talent manager for services.

It is your choice to have a talent manager or not

Talent managers can be invaluable for you and your child’s show business career, especially at the very beginning of your child’s career and after your child’s career has really taken off.

It will take an extra chunk out of any money your child earns if you have a talent manager, but at the same time, it can open doors for your child that might not be opened otherwise.

Please sign up for Your Young Actor’s Newsletter for more about talent managers and questions you should ask them before you agree to have them represent your child actor.

To Your Child’s Success,

Debbie Sikkema

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  1. cath shiel

    Great post with some really interesting facts and welcome advice.

    cath shiel’s last blog post..16 Benefits of Self-hypnosis CD’s

  2. Mom of young actor

    From what I understand, Talent Manager’s do not have to be licensed as do Talent Agencies. I am very leary of Manager’s for some reason. They take such a big chunk for doing things that I feel I already do on a daily basis for my young actor. Yes they may have answers to your ever growing list of questions, but in today’s world you can look up so much on the internet and get what you need. Just like finding this site that is very imformative! Thanks

  3. Debbie Sikkema

    Yes, it is good to be leary of talent managers. There are many good ones, but they are not regulated and so you really have to be careful when you look for a manager. They can help open doors for you, but they also can take a lot of money from your earnings. You really have to take a look at the pros and cons and decide if a manager is right for you, and then you have to be careful to find someone who has a good reputation in the industry. Thanks for your very insightful comments!

  4. Zurich@canadian mortgage insurance quotes

    Hi, of course talent manager are the one who manages the talents or the actor/actress. They are responsible for guiding their talents in order to make their talents well behave on or off the stage. So talent managers serves as the second parent of the talents.. Thank you for posting this article.

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  7. Jamie@Promotional Models

    Another great post. It’s hard to believe that talented people are totally in the hands of their managers and what they do for them. I’ve seen so many talented people fall this way but then again so many have gone on to great things.

  8. stephanie

    i need an manger plz 😐

  9. Miss wise

    As the CEO of a promotional company, I’m looking for talented singers and rappers who are looking for management. If your interested and live in the NYC area, contact me

  10. Joy@Medical Uniforms

    I also think that talent managers can open up new doors for our young actors. They can increase the opportunities and possibilites for our young child to grow and be successful in the industry

  11. LAMgmt

    Just found this article. It’s really very good but as an L.A. manager for and adult and youth division, it’s unfortunate that people have a negative view of most talent managers.
    In every city and industry, you will find those that are not ethical. It’s the same in the entertainment industry and it seems like it happens more frequently for this business because it’s so high profile.
    There are managers like myself who do all of what was mentioned, but also get the same breakdowns as agents and submit our clients for major TV/film and commercials. Sometimes we work with an agent and sometimes we do not. Over the past few years this business has changed and so has the way a good manager works. But in ALL cases, NEVER pay any manager for anything and also be aware that many managers only work part-time because they have another job that pays their bills.
    Generally speaking, be careful and do your due diligence when checking into talent management but also know that there are a few of us good guys out there too. Thanks.

  12. momof3

    I agree a manager can be very helpful, especially in the beginning. My frustration has been that it seems my son’s money is being held for about 2 months from the time the check is dated from the agent until we receive it from the manager. Is this normal? Maybe this manager only does accounting every other month and sneds checks then but it seems unfair that the manager is getting interest for up to 2 months on my son’s money. Any thoughts?

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  14. Stephanie O'Brian

    Hi Debbie! I have just moved back to LA and have decided to start managing young actors. I am a divorced 52 y/o mom of four grown children. One of my boys was a child actor 20 years ago and it was baptism by fire! He got his very first audition, then worked for three years straight. He started with a commercial , went straight to a pilot episode which was later picked up. He worked that TV series with the likes of Jennifer Love Hewitt, Eric Close and Chad Everett. He then booked a movie of the week and starred in that. It is still available on DVD. He also guest starred on several shows. I made a lot of mistakes along the way and learned a lot of lessons too. It was a great time for us and I became very familiar with the industry. Both of my daughters have attended the New York Film Academy In Los Angeles and are both currently shooting some of their first jobs. I feel that someone needs to be there to help the parent as much as the child. At least until they have their feet on the ground. I have been a talent scout and an acting coach as well. I love children and I am very concerned for the youth in this industry. I hope that I will be able to touch as many lives as you have through this website! God Bless!

  15. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Stephanie,
    Good luck to you. I hope things go well and you have great success with your management career. Sounds like you’ve had a lot of interesting experiences just as we have. Thank you for your kind comments about my site! Take care and please keep me posted on how things are going.
    To your success,

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  17. Liz@Prom Dresses by Jovani

    Just found this article and it contains lot of information that I did not expect to see. That is great you mentioned about payments. Can you tell us about the price range as well? Thank you!

  18. Teresa

    My daughter (5) started showing interest last October/November. I did a LOT of research in my area (Cincinnati) before I sent her pictures to an agency. I got a call the next day. And I brought my daughter down to meet them. They did the interview with both of us although she is not shy at all and maintained the conversation with out me. She has always had a very big presence about her with loads of confidence and NO fear to talk to anyone. (which is why I’m afraid to take her to amusement parks) The agent looked at me during the interview and said “WOW, she is something else” at the end of the interview she asked him for a hug and told him nice to meet you. He laughed and said never in his 14 years had he been asked for a hug at the end of an interview. She was then signed. She went to 2 acting work shops they provided. It cost about $150 each time. But they few agents and managers out from LA to see several of their kids and the cost was to pay the flight and board of the people they flew out. I got valuable feed back each time that helped me train her at home. I have 8 years of drama and vocal experience. The third work shop was this past weekend. She is also 6 now and I got a call like 30 mins after we left that the agent and manger wanted to sign her. They want her to plan a visit to LA this summer for a few months to audition in person while we are there. (until then they said we can self tape) I’m very excited but at the same time trying to financially figure out how to make this work. I’m single mom of two 7 and 6. Any suggestions? Fundraising ideas or ect. ?

  19. Debbie Sikkema

    He Teresa,

    Congratulations to you and your daughter. She sounds adorable. I wish I could recommend ways to make money! That is one of the biggest problems in all this — the expense. It is pretty costly out here. Gas is expensive, and you’ll do a lot of driving. I’m sure you’ve read a lot of things and understand how all that will be. Can I ask who the agent and managers are? Are you able to keep working out here? Are you self employed? I did a few things, most of them were not very successful, to try to bring in extra income. I know a lot of people have been pretty successful selling things on ebay, but it is pretty hard work. Working online can bring you a little income here and there, depending on what your skills are. I am fortunate to have a husband who is employed. Being an actor’s mom is pretty time consuming, and it often comes in spurts — things will be slow for a while, and then you’ll be constantly on the run. You may be lucky right off the bat and she’ll get some paying work so money will be a little less of an issue since you can use some of the earnings to pay her expenses such as classes, coaching, headshots, website memberships, etc, but you just never know. Please keep me posted on how things go!
    Take care,

  20. Teresa

    Thank you. Her manger is Jamie Malone with MC Talent and the agent who signed her was Matt Fletcher with Green & Associate’s Talent Agency. I talked to my boss today, he said he would give me my vacation pay and leave of absence when I needed it but because of few bad eggs that abused it, He is unable to let me work remote. So I’ll have to live off savings. I’ve heard that it can take month or two to actually get money from job you’ve done? Is that not true? I’m an awesome seamstress, but not sure how I can make that work out there in such a short period of time for side money. Thanks for all your help!

  21. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Teresa,
    Sorry you ran into those issues with work. What we do for our kids!!! Green and Associates is a good agency. I am not familiar with your manager, but there are so many, but I am sure he is also reputable, especially if the agency is good with them and they are not asking for money up front. It is true that it can take a little while to get paid — less time for union work, but then when you do several union jobs, you must join SAG-AFtra and that takes money, too. Non-union work can be a little slower to pay and several months is not uncommon. One of my daughter’s SAG jobs was late to pay, and then we got a little bonus pay for that–their punishment for being late! Bad for them, good for us. Keep me posted! Good luck with everything.


  22. charlene

    Is it normal for the management company to ask for the talent to pay for website access that promotes the talent?

  23. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Charlene,
    I know that my daughter’s agency always asked us to pay for her to be on ad advertisement page in a magazine. I hear of many people doing this lately, but I am sure many in the industry would find this to be wrong. Depending on how much it is, I’d consider paying for it if you want the visibility. Generally, you should not have to pay your agency or management company for anything. Is it against the law? I’m not sure! If you are specifically paying for one chance to appear in an ad, it might not be bad, but if they want you to pay a monthly fee, that sounds like a scam. You can check with the folks at http://www.bizparentz.org. They are heavily involved in the laws related to talent management in California. Are you in California? Good luck to you! And thanks for reading my blog.
    To your success,

  1. What Information Goes on a Child Actor Resume? | Your Young Actor

    […] daughter’s first real actor resume was created by her talent manager (see “What Do Talent Managers Do?” for more on talent managers) when we came to L.A. I didn’t have to worry about what to […]

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