By Margretta Sowah
Twitter – @bohomags

When you embark on a career in entertainment or the arts, representation is paramount. Having a team around you can elevate a lot of stress by allowing you to focus on what you do best. Publicists, agents, stylists and a PA are like the immediate family. If that is the case then a manager would be the Mother and an agent would be the Father. Representation and management are there not only for financial security but also peace of mind. So, before you begin the exciting journey of fame and fortune, its good to have a sense of what you need and why.

Deal or no deal?

Signing or agreeing to any legal document can be daunting – something that is not meant to be taken lightly.   The terms and conditions, which 95% of us don’t read in their entirety (I know I don’t), are to outline what is expected of you and the other party. Just as though you were choosing the right partner, a contract most definitely needs careful consideration. Though there are endless stories of shonky deals within the entertainment industry, we can’t brush this with a broad stroke – most deals that go awry are situational, not par for the course.

Kesha, the woman who ‘wakes up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy’, has been in-broiled in a legal battle regarding her contract with a subsidiary of SONY owned by music producer Dr Luke; a mentor who allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted her for many years. I think the world (or those who care) took a deep breathe when the verdict was given. Kesha told reporters: “All I ever wanted was to be able to make music without being afraid, scared or abused.” Though Dr Luke strongly denies all the allegations, this is a cautionary tale for the very real and addictive lure of fame. Just because we are presented with options doesn’t mean they are opportunities.

Kelly Cutrone, PR extraordinaire (The People’s Revolution) and who was also on The Hills and The City on MTV, told, “You better have a f*cking great contract or you’re gonna get f*cked. I’ve learned a lot about the law from being in this for so long. I’ve learned a lot about accounting and getting stiffed the hard way. There’s a very serious back end to this business which is accounts receivable […] I want young people to know the business.”

The reality of any business is there may not be 100% understanding; contractual or otherwise. When dealing with your money, your time and your talent in this world of greed and corruption it is well advised to get a second opinion. The glittering approval of a contract being offered to you is amazing! Exciting! A remuneration for the hard work put in thus far, but it will mean nothing if the contract does not benefit yourself.

Investing in your future

According to ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Model’ by Roshumba Williams, “If you want to become a model—any kind of model—it’s important to know how an agency works so you get the most out of the agency’s personnel in terms of managing your career. Modeling agencies have their own hierarchy, and staff members tend to be very protective of their duties and titles. You need to know the chain of command and follow it, or you can cause problems.”

Representation is not just about diversity. Though it would be great, personally, to see more African models in ad campaigns and runway shows, I know most of this comes down to the right management and representation. Choosing the right management speaks not only as you as an individual but as your own commodity – your brand.

Model and body-positive believer, Carrie shared with her fans in her blog post, ‘I have more to offer than my body’, in her journey of self-love and discovery, “Just a 3 weeks ago when I made my debut back to life, I spoke with a girlfriend of mine. She, also a model, inspired me to write about this. I am no longer with any of my agencies. Its been a bit of a mission as I want to share it with everyone, but it is still a constant struggle.” Carrie, who is looking into managing herself, hits a very real nerve. The role of representation and management is to uplift, uphold and open doors for you. If you feel those things are not being nurtured then take a few moments to ask yourself, are you really being represented or just re-presented each time you step into a new option? The two are far from the same.

The trick is to keep finding a home for your skills and talents. The right management matters because it guides you in the right direction. Waiting for the right opportunity is better than following the wrong option – the road back is long and can be disheartening.

Look for those who bring out the best in you, professional and personal. You can’t go wrong for long when you are in the right place.