Most highly successful talent/models in the entertainment industry hire at least four (4) separate individuals from four (4) separate companies to represent them and aid the advancement of their career in four (4) separate and distinct capacities. Those capacities are agent, manager, publicist and lawyer. According to IMDBPro.com3, Cameron Diaz, Lindsay Lohan, Salma Hayek, Reese Witherspoon, Sandra Bullock, Eva Mendes and Robert De Niro (to name just a few) all have (at least) four separate people - at four separate companies - helping them with their career. They have all hired (1) an agent or agents, and (2) a manager, and (3) a publicist and (4) a lawyer. Some performers choose to hire only an agent or only a manager, while others simultaneously have 3-4 agents, a manager, a publicist and a legal team. An agent does not file lawsuits on behalf of his clients (that’s the lawyer’s job), and lawyers do not submit press releases on behalf of theirs (that’s the publicist’s job). Agents, managers, publicists and lawyers generally do not perform open-heart surgery on their clients, but if an actor or actress is under cardiac arrest (having a heart attack) then they’ll often find it a good idea to find a qualified individual to handle the need (that’s the heart surgeon’s job). The point here is that (although a few of the functions of some roles are occasionally merged) agent, manager, publicist and lawyer are - in reality - four completely separate, distinct, and important roles.
In California, one of the requirements for a legitimate talent agency is that they must be licensed and bonded with the State. Law firms and lawyers must be licensed by the State Bar. Management companies are not required to be licensed or bonded, but they should be registered with the State as a personal management company to be legit. Of course, these licensing and registration requirements are important to research when seeking representation – but they are only prerequisites; they do not necessarily guarantee that the company you are researching is the right company for you – as the artist/performer/model. In fact, we’ve seen several licensed and bonded talent agents (both within and outside of the adult realm of the entertainment industry) engage in very unprofessional behavior from time-to-time. On the other hand, many agents are highly respected and do a great job of representing their clients. The author (as a talent manager) has managed the careers of porn models Priscilla Milan, Jaymie Lannen (aka McKenzie Sweet), Bella Honey, Kya Tropic, AsiaXXX, Kayla Marie, and many others, but our company’s reputation has become the top promoters of “fresh off the boat” (brand new to the industry) talent. My clients respect me for a number of reasons – one of them being the fact that I do not encourage/allow them to be put in compromising or degrading situations that some well-known talent agents are rumored to do on a regular basis. (Those who have been around the porn industry for a while can “read between the lines” on that statement.)
So, what’s the difference between an agent and a manager? An agent works for an agency and a manager (also known as a personal manager or talent manager) works for a management company or (in the case of some big-time celebrities) the manager will work directly for the artist/talent. The multi-billion-dollar Olsen twins have their own personal management & promotional Company setup with over 100 employees working full-time to promote the Olsen brand. Legitimate agencies and management companies both work strictly on commission. Neither will charge any upfront fees to join, but the “higher-end” companies tend to be very selective about whom they offer contracts to. All professional agents and managers will have their clients sign a contract before doing any work for them. So again, an agent is not a manager, and a management company is not an agency; yet both roles are important to the entertainment industry – including the adult side of it.
An agent’s primary job function, in legal terms, is to “procure employment” and negotiate contracts on your behalf as the performer/talent/model. An artist/model can alternatively hire a lawyer to negotiate contracts. Agents often use “breakdown services” to submit their clients to try to get them work. A good agent is a great thing to have, but it is also a good idea to consider securing the services of a talent management firm or personal manager.
Managers are more directly involved in all aspects of an artist’s (or model’s) career. They help guide your career and promote your name and identity within the entertainment industry. Publicists and PR companies, on the other hand, promote your name and identity to the general public. At our Company, we are a talent management firm – but we also provide PR (publicity) services for our models. Managers provide advice & counsel with regards to all aspects of the entertainment industry; they tell you what moves are smart to make – and also which moves or decisions could be detrimental to your career. Your manager is the one who oversees the “big picture” of your career, but is also a “middle man”, or a “cushion” between you as the artist/model and the day-to-day interactions with the rest of the entertainment industry and the outside world. Managers may spend a lot of their time in the office or “wining & dining” producers & studio heads with a single objective – to make their client look good & stand out to the shot-callers in the entertainment industry.
A manager is generally the most personal of all 4 roles mentioned previously. In the example of the television show Entourage (which is the best TV show to watch to get a clear understanding of these four roles) Vincent Chase’s (the movie star’s) manager is both his roommate and best friend since childhood. Then there is “Ari Gold” (based on real-life Hollywood mega-agent Ari Emanuel) who is Vince’s agent. In Season 7, there is another character playing Vincent Chase's girlfriend, Sasha Grey, but our Company admires her so much that we have a separate article just about her. On a very informative radio interview with Harley Fire on L.A. Talk Radio, the author made a comment which I’ll make again here: “the best way to learn the difference between a manager and an agent is to sit down, and watch a few episodes of Entourage”. As silly as it sounds, that’s really the best way to get an understanding of the various roles. It’s often said that hiring a manager is similar to getting married; you grow and succeed together, joined at the hip. A manager’s contacts become your contacts and a full-time manager’s livelihood/success is directly linked to his clients’ success.
With regards to the author’s Company, we are a registered talent management company in the State of California. I’ve been called the “hardest working manager in the porn industry”. Our Company is the only known personal management company for porn (adult film) models in existence that also has the connections, power, and ability to promote their clients for major mainstream productions (Hollywood feature films, television shows, reality TV and high fashion modeling) in addition to promoting them within the adult film industry. This is due to the fact that, unlike any other adult-industry personal management company, our Company was actually birthed from a major mainstream talent management company whose connections we utilize regularly.
In our industry – the adult film industry – there has recently been a lot of talk about making sure that agents are licensed and bonded by the State. A trade association for licensed adult talent agents, called LATATA, was formed around 2009 by some of the adult talent agencies in California. Our Company is in 100% complete support of agents being licensed and bonded. In fact, the author recently walked into the office of a well-known licensed & bonded porn talent agency (a member of LATATA) and linked up that agency with two Hollywood movie producers who ended up hiring one of the agency’s clients for a mainstream feature film.
Our Company, however, is not an agency… we are a personal management company. Therefore, we are not required to be licensed or bonded by the State. To ask me if I’m licensed and bonded is like asking a firefighter if he brought his 9mm pistol to work today... the question does not apply to the role. I’m not a porn agent running a porn agency; I am a personal manager running a personal management company for porn models, and proud of it. At our Company, we often accompany our clients on business meetings, and make sure that they are taken care of and pointed in the right direction. The producers of American Gangster, Law & Order, and C.S.I.: NY and thousands of other productions have booked actors that are clients of the mainstream division of our Company. Many major porn producers and magazine publishers including Penthouse, Reality Kings and Anabolic Digital have booked clients of our adult division as well.
Adult models often choose our Company to help them with their careers in adult film and mainstream acting/modeling for a number of reasons. First of all, because they know that they can trust us – we are good people. Secondly, they choose us because we have major connections within the entertainment industry – both adult and otherwise. And thirdly, they choose us because of our personalized approach and expertise. We are experts at what we do, and we invest a large amount into each of our models on an individual basis.
1.) SAG.org; http://www.sag.org/content/agents-and-managers
2.) AFTRA.com; http://www.aftra.com/F6B441EE46FC49E98E5C28711FEE4C28.htm