As an actor you probably hear the words agent (person who finds you the jobs), auditions (what you do to potentially get the job), set (where the project is being filmed) and manager (the person who develops your career) thrown around quite a bit. You probably know what each of these things are but just in case you didn’t, I gave you a few quick definitions, because it is so important to know what the heck you are hearing about when you are getting into a new thing! Acting is just like any other business, you have to understand the industry and know the ins and outs if you want to be successful (or if you don’t know them, have someone else helping you out who does!).
I often times hear actors say that they are looking for a manager. This is before they have an agent, a resume built, or much of any experience in the business. This strikes me as interesting because to me, when you are new to the industry, all you need is some headshots, accounts to all of the best actors websites (i.e. Backstage, Actors Access, Casting Frontier, etc…), and if you have some experience under your belt or really know that you are ready for extreme actor dedication, an agent. But a manager is someone who will mold your career and is looking towards longer-term advice and career moves.
Managers are the people who will talk to you about which headshot to choose out of the 300 your photographer took. They will want to have sitdown meetings with you about your auditions that you get and they will help you choose your outfits. Managers have a lot fewer clients so that they are able to focus in on specific people and really hone in on their career and how to make them flourish. You can get the same thing out of an agent if you are looking for career help and help in getting auditions. Having an agent and a manager would mean that you paying out potentially 20-30% to your agent and manager when you book work.
I find that it is the best to choose between having one or the other. In my experience and research, when you’re starting off in the industry and looking to build up your resume a bit, an agent is crucial and a manager is not yet critical to your career. In the end, you will end up meeting with different people and you will find out who wants what and what things people are looking for. You want representation that LOVES you and believes in your endlessly because in the end, that is what will make your career flourish.