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Why Do Movie Stars Have Managers, Agents and Lawyers? What’s the Difference?

Why Do Movie Stars Have Managers, Agents and Lawyers? What’s the Difference?

Actors aren’t obligated to find an agent, manager, or lawyer. In a cutthroat industry living in Hollywood, finding success without guidance is rare.

If I’m the new guy on the Hollywood scene, should I expect to book acting gigs if nobody knows who I am? If I have zero connections in the industry, I will have a difficult time knowing where to begin.

Luckily, I am not an actor. I’m also not obligated to tighten my resume, use a planner, or read the fine print before I sign something. But if I didn’t do these things, I’d be unorganized, jobless, and signing agreements that I don’t agree with.

It applies to movie stars too – the purpose of an agent is vital. The role of a manager is crucial for driving other goals. And having a good lawyer is paramount.

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What does a Movie Star Manager do?

Managers working alongside movie stars may have a range of duties, and they may overlap with the responsibilities of agents. But a manager’s job is to manage the professional elements of an actor’s life.

A busy schedule is not exclusive to A-listers on the Hollywood scene. Regular folks have schedules to keep up with too. I could hire a manager to manage my life, but outside of Hollywood, a personal assistant, or secretary, is less common.

Still, it would be naïve to assume that movie stars deal with the same type of messy schedules as non-actors. So, while I can manage my life most days, movie stars most definitely should hire a manager to help out.

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Entertainment managers help actors by planning, scheduling, and offering career guidance. Additionally, managers help promote clients to the right people in the best light.

The word manager finds its origin in the word hand. A manager offers expertise with the goal of helping movie stars succeed. Managers are an actor’s helping hand in a competitive industry.

We could in fact live without our hands, but life would be a much bigger challenge without them. The entertainment manager makes life easier for the movie star by managing it.

What is the Difference Between a Manager and an Agent?

A photo of a manager smiling.

Managers guide movie stars in the right direction, offering career support, acting advice, and business management help. They offer guidance, leading the way to the best roles, people, and opportunities.

Managers know who to talk to and how to network with them in the entertainment industry.

It’s helpful to know that managers are not regulated like agents are. Managers do not have special certifications typically, or any sort of practicing license. A manager can be anyone, so the stakes are higher for them.

To get clients, entertainment managers must make a name for themselves as trustworthy. First, they must develop a good reputation in the entertainment industry.

A talent agent must receive training. Training is standard for talent agency employees. Additionally, independent agents must build a solid reputation to be successful.

While a talent manager will usually work with one movie star, an agent can serve more than one client. Talent agents are often employed by a talent agency, unlike managers.

Once an entertainment manager gets you to the right places and in front of the right people, an agent can take over. An agent’s job involves negotiating contracts with production companies.

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The goal is to get the most money for the stars they represent. But, a manager cannot negotiate a legal contract on a client’s behalf. Negotiating is the top skill of a talented entertainment agent.

What Can a Good Agent Do for a Movie Star’s Career?

The word agent means ‘to do’, it also represents ‘the one doing’. If you have free agency, then you take intentional actions and make free decisions. Intentional and driven agency by a talented agent can impact an actor’s career in a great way.

Agents must have solid communication skills. Also, agents need a stubborn kind of persistence to get the best outcomes for clients. An agent must have a sense of empathy, too.

Successful agents have high emotional intelligence mixed with industry knowledge and some legal know-how..

Industry Connections

A photo of two men handshaking.

Moreover, a talent agent must be convincing and convince the right people. Negotiating requires strong people skills and the ability to have an influence on others.

Most people respond with emotions even if they do so on a subtle level. A successful agent is one that can get the best contracts for a movie star, who will understand the intricacies of human psychology and persuasion.

Clear Perspective

A movie star agent has the necessary ability to remain objective to the business side of things. This is helpful when the artist can’t find direction. A lot of what fuels the creative person is a process-an ebb and flow, feeling inspired one week and neutral the next.

The artist’s internal shifts can result in tunnel vision, or no clear vision at all.

When it is difficult for an artist or actor to see the road ahead, a talent agent can be a helpful reminder to stay on track. A good talent agent comes equipped with real deliverables like bookings. A good agent has a vision to share when the actor can’t see one.

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A notable agent in the entertainment industry is Robert Thorne. Thorne is well-known for propelling the Olsen twins to stardom during their acting days on Full House. At the start of their careers, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen made around $2,400 per episode of Full House in the 90’s.

By the time the show was nearing its end, the twins were pulling in roughly $80,000. A lot of the twins’ early financial success is attributable to Robert Thorne’s knack for negotiating contracts as well as his ability to bring the vision he had for the twins’ success to life.

Robert Thorne represented the Olsen twins as their agent, manager, and lawyer.

Why do Movie Stars Need Lawyers?

A lawyer wearing a suit.

A lot of the skills involved in the representation of movie stars involve overlapping knowledge between managers and agents and between agents and entertainment lawyers. Agents, managers, and lawyers must work together.

While an agent negotiates the hot deals for actors, the entertainment lawyer must write or evaluate a negotiated contract.

Additionally, a lawyer who is well-versed in the entertainment industry can help actors read over complicated legal contracts. Movie stars might lack the training to read legal jargon and often become easy targets for crooked production companies who want to ‘own’ the actor for a period.

Brands might want to use an actor for marketing purposes, resulting in the actor signing a sneaky and binding contract.

A good lawyer is almost always necessary in the entertainment industry for movie stars who deal with too many personalities, a lot of money, and opportunists in the media who view the famous person as a product to be sold for profit.

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In addition to helping movie stars understand a contract’s agreements and risks, entertainment lawyers understand intellectual property rights.

One media industry lawyer explains, “Most of the work of an entertainment attorney consists of reading, negotiating, and analyzing contracts, dealing with unions and guilds and their agreements, copyright law, trademark law, right of publicity, and licensing law of all types”.

An entertainment lawyer gives a movie star another view, contributing to an actor’s more robust understanding of the entertainment industry that complements the perspectives offered by a manager and agent.

Each role offers a unique point of view, giving the movie star more tools with which to navigate and succeed.