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.
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To Your Child’s Success,