Choosing a personal manager is a big decision, regardless if they will be for a child actor or an adult performer. Knowing what to look for in a manager, and what to avoid, can help your first manager experience be a good one. As with any career decision, your child will probably change managers at some point, but making wise decisions can save you a lot of frustration.
The first question you should ask yourself is: Does my child really need a personal manager? In my book, Kids in the Biz, I outline several career indicators that help identify if a personal manager is even needed. In essence, if the day-to-day aspects of the business such as managing auditions, callbacks, going over residual and production payments and other business tasks are getting too much for you to handle, it is wise to look for a personal manager who can help you in those areas.
Many parents at this stage find themselves working more and more on their child’s career, and consider the possibility of quitting their job and becoming their child’s personal manager. Some may even think “If I’m going to give away 20%, might as well be to me.” This is WRONG and could lead to DISASTER.
Personal managers, especially those listed with the Talent Managers Association, rely not only on their business sense, but also on the contacts they have in the business. It is not very easy, or recommended, to jump in to your child’s career and call yourself a personal manager – it is more than just a title.
So how can you tell the good managers from the bad? As with anybody you meet, there are good manager and bad managers. A good place to start is looking for a manager who is a member of the Talent Managers Association. There are also books on acting that list talent managers and agents in the appendixes. A great one to look for is the Hollywood Representation Directory.
Managers I would recommend staying away from are a little more difficult to define. Generally, I would stay away from any agent or manager who solicits YOU. You should be the instigator in finding a personal manager, anybdoy who approaches you in a mall, over email, at an acting class or convention, or even on the street, should be scrutinized carefully. As much as I embrace the Internet, reject meeting with a manager just because you like their web site, or the web site of their clients – casting directors don’t care about how a web site looks.
While most legitimate managers are members of the Talent Managers Association, there are also some good managers who are not. Don’t let members of the TMA be an end-all criteria for meeting with a manager. Meet with your prospective manager with your child and see how they interract with you. Your best guide when choosing a manager is your gut feeling. If you have other people you know in the business, ask around. If you have an agent, ask them if they have heard of the manager. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
The actual process of getting a manager is too large of an article to post in this one. Bottom line is – be careful. The manager you choose will be a part of your child’s life for the next 6 months – year or longer. There are always ways to break a contract, but it is best to identify potential problems before they happen.