Acting Talent Agencies: Background information when reading American Dream Machine

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American Dream Machine

by Matthew Specktor

American Dream Machine by Matthew Specktor X
American Dream Machine by Matthew Specktor
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2013, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2014, 464 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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Beyond the Book:
Acting Talent Agencies

Print Review

A talent agency is an organization that represents talent – actors, musicians, writers etc – and pitches their clients' talents to appropriate organizations. For example, a Hollywood talent agency will pitch or plug a particular actor on roles for upcoming movie projects. Talent agencies work closely with production companies and casting directors. In Hollywood, talent agents are certified by the Screen Actors Guild and follow certain professional rules of conduct. This includes the setting of fees. Most talent agents will take 10% of an actor's earnings from a role. The talent agent helps in pitching the actor and procuring auditions although the final results are dependent on the actor alone.

Angelina JolieWhile talent agencies in Hollywood have been around since the 1930s, their role was somewhat limited as lead actors were usually under exclusive contract to an individual studio. But by the 1950s, the power of the big studios had been eroded, and the actors were able to move more freely from studio to studio, and thus the role of third-party talent agents became increasingly relevant. Today some of the most famous talent agencies in Hollywood include Creative Artists Agency (which represents George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and others) and William Morris Endeavor (which represents actors like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and others). Ben AffleckA healthy Rolodex of industry connections and a pulse on studio activity is pretty much considered a must for successful talent agencies. Talent raiding among smaller studios is quite common.

While it is almost considered a necessity to be represented by a talent agent to procure a job, there is another player called a talent manager. A talent manager usually comes into play later in a successful career and manages all professional aspects of an actor's career (interviews, television appearances, endorsements etc.). Since a talent manager takes an additional cut off an actor's earnings, most struggling actors do without one.

Article by Poornima Apte

This article was originally published in April 2013, and has been updated for the April 2014 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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