So, will you need an agent or a manager to make it big in Hollywood? Here are some things to think about and some experiences I have had.
An agent is the person who sends actors on auditions. He discusses your pay rate with the potential client. He gets your paycheck and sends you the amount that is left after he deducts 10%. He might give you the entire check and have you give him a check for the 10%. He might even trust you to cash the check and then pay him. In any case you pay the taxes on the income that he is taking. He also is paying tax on it as income. The he is often a she. Hollywood is very much an equal opportunity town.
There are commercial agents who will send you on auditions for TV commercials. There are TV and feature film agents who send you out to audition for movies and TV shows. Some agents are SAG franchised. That means they are authorized by the Screen Actors Guild to represent you if you are a union actor. They are required to get you union work and pay and benefits. If you belong to SAG you are not allowed by your guild to work in any non union production.
There are also non union agents who will try to get work for their clients in movies or TV shows or commercials which are being produced by non union companies. The pay and benefits are almost always less for non union actors.
Agents get a "breakdown" each day from the casting agencies. A breakdown is the listing of various parts which are being cast for productions. Usually the agent gets the info one day and the audition is the next day. Sometimes your agent will call you and need you to go somewhere right away. The breakdown tells a little about the character and the wardrobe stipulated for the audition. The location and time are also in the breakdown.
There are dishonest agents and managers in Hollywood but most are trustworthy. I once went to an agency that claimed they wanted to represent me and they gave me a contract and asked me to sign it. I said I would take it with me and read it. They became pushy and I took the contract and left. When I read the contract it stipulated I would be giving them 10% of ALL my earnings. Not just the jobs they secured for me. Later the agency was closed and a criminal investigation was opened. There was information about the agency on local news programs. They had been over promising and under delivering and they were bilking their clients. There is no need for you to sign with an agency for them to send you on interviews and auditions. There are still "handshake" agencies. Hollywood still has some real people who work for you, their client.
Be sure to check Makin' it in Hollywood. That is a good place to begin.
Any e-mails for the webmaster can be sent to this e-mail address.
A manager generally dips into your pocket for 25% although the amount varies. There are no rules for theatrical or movie or TV actor's managers like there are for agents. A manager makes deals for you with producers. Your agent just takes care of auditions for specific parts but a manager might tell you to attend a particular party and be sure to go with your attorney. Maybe the manager is making a deal to "package" a production with some of his actors and a director who is also represented by the same manager. There are big deal making managers and guys who work out of motor homes. Don't sign a contract with a manager who says he will get you work "later." A good manager will perform first then have you sign a contract. Sometimes a manager will be recommended by your agent. If your agency is good the manager is probably legitimate. Don't sign for more than one year at a time.
Do you need a manager? No. Do you need an agent? No. You can make it on your own if you are a hustler. The best job I ever had in Hollywood I got on my own with no agent or manager. An agent can definitely be helpful to you when it comes to getting auditions. Don't worry if you don't get one right away or ever. In every instance where I refer to an agent or manager as "he," it might be a "she."