You'll never see a talent agent on the cover of Vanity Fair or Forbes, but these behind-the-scenes dealmakers are some of the best-paid professionals in the film industry.
The role of a talent agent is all-encompassing. Agents find scripts for their actor or director clients to read. They shop around their clients' headshots, film reels, and original scripts to studios and independent production companies across the country. They negotiate salaries and complicated profit-sharing deals with movie studios and distribution companies. They find extra promotional and sponsorship opportunities for their clients, whether it's putting their face on a perfume campaign or shooting commercials for a Japanese soft drink. They make sure their clients are booked in the right hotel rooms, the right airplane flights and have all of their favorite food and music and clothes when they arrive.
Talent agents for the top actors, directors and producers in Hollywood are concentrated at a handful of agencies like CAA, United Artists and ICM [source: Gimbel]. Talent agents typically receive 10 percent of their client's earnings under a specific contract for a film project. If your client pulls in tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars a year, then you're sitting pretty. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the annual mean salary for a talent agent was $178,340 -- more than the mean annual salary for any other film industry job in 2010 [source: Bureau of Labor Statistics].
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