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Modeling Tip: What’s the Difference Between a Manager and an Agent?

First of all, most models are represented by agencies, not managers. Perhaps a supermodel would enlist a manager but not your average model.

(The 20 Wealthiest Supermodels on the Planet—these are the type who need managers! Try to guess #1. Hint: She built a brand and thus a fortune, and she is not either of the two people below.)

Supermodel Cindy

Cindy Crawford, aka Cindy Inc.


Supermodel Tyra Banks

Supermodel Mogul Tyra Banks

Someone who is more interested in acting than modeling might seek a manager. My son, an aspiring actor/dancer, has a manager—or, more accurately, is repped by a management company, Shirley Grant (who is also a person, just to confuse you more). This means various agencies submit castings to Shirley Grant (for print, commercials etc.) and they also send him out on Broadway, TV, and film auditions. So today he went on a casting for Abrams Artists, even though his management company is Shirley Grant.

I did not specifically seek out a manager for him (or an agent for that matter). A casting director, Madelyn Burns, saw him at her summer camp and sent us to Shirley Grant. It was a “sure, what the heck” decision, not a calculated one. Theoretically a manager will give more personal attention and career guidance, but bookers are busy regardless. The main thing you want in an agency or manager is that they get the calls for the audtions/castings. In the beginning of a career, the goal is to get bookings. It’s unlikely you need someone advising you on how to navigate to the top. You might once you get so busy that you’re not sure whether to take that part in a feature film or go on a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot.

Financially, here’s the difference. Say my son booked the casting he went on today. Then a percent of his pay would go to Abrams and a percent would go to Shirley Grant. The total would be more than if he were just represented by Abrams, with no manager involved. What you are paying for with a manager, according to a manager anyway, is access to more castings and auditions and some filtering of the ones that neither pay much nor do much for your career. But again, if you are a new model, you should be looking for an agency—a reputable one. If someone hands you a business card and says he’s a “manager” and thinks he can help your modeling career, I’d be suspicious . A “scout” or “agent”? At least they are using the right terminology, but you still have to exercise caution with all the scams out there.

See a list of top commercial/talent agencies.

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