If you want to do films, your manager will look at scripts and pick ones that are right for you. He may then set up general interviews with casting directors and others – including directors and producers - who are involved with developing film projects. He may also help you look for low-budget films by beginning filmmakers where you will be able to gain experience and make contacts.
He should help you find good classes for the type of acting you want to do. He should consult with you on your headshots, résumés, hairstyle, clothes, etc., or he might send you to meet with a style consultant about these things. Just make sure you are comfortable with any "new look" that the manager recommends. You will not do well in the acting profession if you don't feel comfortable about how you look, especially if you feel like you are not being true to yourself.
In return for all this, a manager will usually receive a fifteen percent commission. This is in addition to the ten percent commission you pay to your agent, if you have one.
Those who want to make their own career decisions and plot their own course will usually forgo the services of a manager. Other actors, after finding a manager who believes in what they are trying to accomplish, will not see the need for an agent. However, this second choice brings up a tricky situation:
Managers are not supposed to get actors work or negotiate their contracts; it is an agent’s job to do this. Agents are licensed by the state, and the laws governing them provide an actor with certain protections that are not there with a manager, especially in the area of finances. Because anyone can call himself a “manager,” the actor needs to do his research about any manager he is thinking of signing with - and carefully read any contract that the manager asks him to sign. I would recommend either not having a contract at all, or else signing a limited time contract (say, six months) to see how the relationship goes.
Why so much caution? Here’s an example of what could go wrong: Your manager introduces you to a producer. Nothing happens and for whatever reason(s) a year later you end the relationship with your manager. Now, two years later, long after you have left your manager, the producer casts you in something, like a nice hit sitcom. And one day you get a call from your former manager asking for his fifteen percent - of all the salary you have made and will make from that sitcom. Does he really have a case? Maybe. After all, he did arrange your original introduction to the producer, which led to your getting cast in the show. This has happened on more than one occasion, and the actor has usually had to settle on some dollar amount with the manager.
Some stars only have a manager, so how do these stars negotiate contracts? They have a lawyer - usually one versed in entertainment law - do the contract negotiations for them.
If you are thinking about signing with a manager, bear this in mind: In order for them to really help you, you need to know what your career goals are, and where you want to be in, say, five years. You'll have a more productive relationship with your manager if you know what you what, rather than hoping that he can figure out what you should be doing as an actor.
An agent will often go for whatever jobs pay the most money, but a manager should be more interested in getting you the kind of work that will help you achieve your goals, even if it doesn't pay a lot of money in the beginning. What this means is, if you also have an agent, he and your manager must work together for your benefit. It won't help your career or your state of mind if they are pulling you in two different directions.
Finally, if you are just starting out and really want to work - commercials, film, TV, stage, etc., then you're better off going with an agent at the start of your career. However, if you think you'd like to contact some managers, check my link "TMA Managers" for a list of legitimate managers.