Sunday, March 20, 2011

Agent vs. Manager vs. Self in the Entertainment Industry

How To Succeed

Theatre artists have a difficult time establishing themselves in the highly competitive, low-paying Broadway arena.  Auditions, classes, workshops, staged-reading, interviews, housing, jobs to pay the bills—there is an endless list of ongoing necessities for actors living in New York. You often hear from performers that return home, having failed to get that lucky break, “I just got burned out”. What if they had some assistance? What if they had hired someone to look after the mundane activities, seek out the best opportunities and schedule their life? Maybe they could have had a better chance.
Paul Weber, Paul Weber Casting

In the old days, everyone had, or was looking for an agent. If you wanted to get the job you had someone to represent you with connections to get you a shot at those coveted opportunities. As with everything, times change. According to an article in Variety several years ago, there are fewer and fewer agents and agencies than there used to be and their focus has changed. You seldom find a dedicated agent battling the rigors of the industry for a small number of clients. Today, one agent may represent forty or more actors and the focus is all on the almighty dollar, not the interest of the client. In the 1980’s the work previously done by agents was suddenly being consumed by a dedicated band of individuals known as personal managers.

What is a personal manager and why do actors need them? According to the National Conference Of Personal Managers (NCOPM) website, “A personal manager advises and counsels talent and personalities in the entertainment industry. Personal managers have the expertise to find and develop new talent and create opportunities for those artists which they represent. Personal managers act as liaison between their clients and both the public and the theatrical agents, publicists, attorneys, business managers, and other entertainment industry professionals which provide services to the personal manager's clients.”

Many performers can’t afford the services of a support team. Many of the same performers can’t afford to not have one. Hiring a personal manager is an investment. Initially, actors can benefit from the knowledge and experience a personal manager can offer to shape their image and persona and focus their efforts toward sound potential opportunities. Once an actor is established, they need the benefits of someone who can look after their daily schedules, work toward future projects and keep things rolling while the actor does what he does best: Eight shows a week.


Hofler, Robert. (2005, September 12). N.Y.'s stage managers: H'w'd phenom invades legit, changing face of biz deals. Variety. Retrieved from

National Conference Of Personal Managers Website

Photo: Paul Weber from

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