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Insider Showbiz Secrets From A Former Manager And Handler

'I was sacrificing a lot of time and skills just to kiss artists' asses and make them rich!'
PHOTO: istockphoto

In the world of show business, the faces of the industry are the celebritiesor in local terms, the artistas. You see them on billboards, magazine covers, and your social media feeds. But behind the fame are hidden figures that help them build their A-list status: managers and handlers. 

We hear about these people mentioned by artistas on interviews or personal posts ("I want to thank my manager/handler..."). But for most people who aren't in the 'biz, their tasks and actual job descriptions are next to unknown. Are they personal assistants? Glorified alalays? Both or neither?

Here, we spoke to a former manager and handler about what exactly their jobs entail. 

*Note: Both parties opted to keep their real names private.


Former Manager, 50 years old

Number of years being a manager: Seven years 

Can you describe the difference between a handler and manager?

A Handler is a schedule coordinator for the artist, someone who makes sure the artist is where he/she should be at the right time, complete with whatever is required for the artist to perform. A Manager supervises the artist's choices in bookings and client engagements, creates and promotes the artist's public image, employs trainers, stylists, and PR people to sustain and enhance the artist's image, and transacts with clients for contract and talent fee negotiations.

How did you earn?

I worked for ABS-CBN Star Magic where Handlers/Managers are paid a fixed monthly salary. We do not earn directly from our talents.

Did you have any benefits from the talent agency you worked for? 

The usual medical insurance and regular employee benefits in a private corporation.

Can you detail what a normal working day of a manager is like?

Mornings are spent answering emails, text messages, and creating reports. We usually come into the office shortly before lunch, and that is when we start meetings. Most of the time, we are also with our artists for appointments or their booked engagements. Later in the day, we do updates with our boss on general things and stuff that need approval. In the evening, we are usually still with our artists in their engagements where we are needed. 

How did you get your start in the showbiz industry?

I took an internship with the network prior to college graduation, and they hired me as a production assistant for television right after graduation. From there, I worked in TV for four years before I got into talent management.

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What is the most common misconception about being a manager?

That they completely control the artists they manage. The artists are usually head-strong individuals who need a lot of convincing and explanations before decisions about their careers are made.

What did you love most about being a manager?

I love nurturing and mentoring people into their successes.

What did you hate the most?

I hate ingrates and stupid people without ambition to change.

Can you tell us a story about your craziest experience as a manager?

When an artist took off and got married without informing me, and I had to learn it from the next day's tabloid news. It ruined the artist's career and changed the way I trusted and managed other artists from then on.

How did you deal with "diva" behavior?

I simply report them to the higher-ups, and they get penalized. I usually just walk out and deal with them on a legal or disciplinary level.

In your opinion, what does it take to be a successful artista?

You need to be patient, positive, hardworking, tolerant of other people, and of course, naturally talented.

What is your current job?

I am a filmmaker. 

What is your reason for leaving?

A change of scene. I got tired of the job.

Would you ever think of returning to your old job?

I don't think so, but it might happen if I find the right artists. My standards have gone up. 

Are there any other insider's secrets you can share about the showbiz industry?

There are no real friends in show business, just people who need you and people whom you need.

***

Former Handler, 27 years old

Number of years being a handler: 1 year and six months

Can you describe what a handler is?

A Handler is the one who "handles" almost everything work-related for an artist—keeping schedules, booking events and shows, looking for stylists, etc.

How much did you earn in a month?

P15,000.00 – P25,000.00

Did you have any benefits from the talent agency you worked for?

None. 

Can you detail what a normal working day of a handler is like?

You cannot not answer phone calls; your phone is glued to your hand 24/7. You have to make sure your artists are attending their respective scheds and you have to have the right amount of energy to deal with their lame excuses.

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How did you get your start in the showbiz industry?

I applied in the talent agency not as a handler, but that was the position open during that time. So, I gave it a try.

What is the most common misconception about being a handler?

In the agency where I worked, a handler is different from a manager. As a handler, we were usually tagged as either the manager/artist's assistant.

What did you love most about being a handler?

When artists appreciate your efforts for them.

What did you hate the most?

When your artists think that they know better. Also, when they make work/career decisions without letting you/the management know.

How did you deal with "diva" behavior?

To piss her/him even more, I didn't look for bookings. 

In your opinion, what does it take to be a successful artista?

PATIENCE.

What is your current job?

Project Manager.

What is your reason for leaving the industry?

I didn't see growth in it and I felt like I was sacrificing a lot of time and skills just to kiss artists' asses and make them rich!

Would you ever think of returning to your old job?

No. I actually hate the fact that I accepted the job.

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