The agent vs. manager debate
The Future. Hollywood’s major talent agencies have all experienced a stream of departures over the last few years, creating a new generation of managers who understand dealmaking. As Hollywood tightens its belt amid the rise of streaming, the decline of cable, and the erosion of the theatrical business (not to mention a potential writer’s strike), talent may find themselves between a rock and a hard place. When the going gets tough, do they keep their agent or manager?
What’s the difference, anyway?
The distinction between agents and managers can seem blurry. Here are the key differences:
- Agents represent people in a specific area of the entertainment business and focus on landing their clients new work.
- Managers offer career guidance. While they can’t negotiate deals, they can produce film and TV and invest in their clients’ brands — and potentially earn more than agents.
Who’s made the transition?
To keep up with the changing entertainment landscape, many agents pivot into management, where they can focus on building their clients’ careers.
- Peter Micelli, formerly the co-head of CAA’s television department, launched the talent management firm Range Media Partners in 2020. Since then, he has grown the company to over 160 employees and more than 500 clients, including M. Night Shyamalan, Busy Philipps, Shailene Woodley, and Mariah Carey.
- Ben Jacobson and David Stone, former agents at UTA and WME, launched The Framework Collective to manage TV writers in 2020.
- Theresa Kang-Lowe, who also left WME, now manages Alfonso Cuarón, Lena Waithe, and others while producing TV shows like the Apple series Pachinko.
Why work at an agency?
The infamous mail room is still one of the best places to learn about the entertainment business. And even with all the changes in Hollywood, there still exist opportunities for young, hungry agents to discover new talent on platforms like TikTok.
Seems like agents will be “hugging it out” for the foreseeable future.