VoiceOver Legal: Power of Attorney

Question: I received a phone call from a casting director, who is also a manager, who expressed interest in me, which was great. It would be non-exclusive, and she would take 20% for gigs she booked me. She also sent me an application form to fill out, along with a w-9, and a Contract that states I am agreeing to give her power of attorney so she can sign my name to checks/releases/contracts for gigs she procures on my behalf. I feel very uncomfortable doing this! Is this standard?

Answer: Absolutely not! Filling out an application with personal information, such as sizing, etc., is pretty standard in the acting business, but not the voice over world. A W-9 is also standard as well, which provides your social security or tax identification number for income tax purposes.

But I have not heard of many agents requesting a power of attorney from a client to sign checks or other documentation, at least at the “working talent”/non exclusive level. Perhaps for big celebrities that use a manager to handle their affairs it would be more standard, but even then I don’t blame you for hesitating. First of all, a casting agent that is a manager scares me right out of the gate because THAT is an inherent conflict of interest.

A power of attorney can be a very sweeping authorization that can be used for many different types of financial transactions unless it is specifically limited and worded. At the very least I would suggest you have it reviewed by an attorney at law, and perhaps have it modified.

I have seen many, many contracts from agents and managers, and I am seldom surprised at some of the provisions some of them want the performer to agree to. I have been asked to negotiate these agreements on behalf of some performers as well, and the one thing I can state with certainty is that, if the agent or manager refuses to negotiate to take these unfair provisions out of their agreements, then that should be a huge red flag.

I know that performers, including myself, love it when an agent or manager wants to represent us, and I also know too many performers who just blindly sign on the dotted line, but all performers need to keep in mind that there are some “agents” or “managers” out there that are not at all legitimate. So, it is caveat emptor (buyer beware) on the part of the performer when hiring representation, and that should never be taken lightly.

Rob Sciglimpaglia

About Rob Sciglimpaglia

As both a voice talent and an attorney, Rob Sciglimpaglia is uniquely qualified to answer your legal questions related to the voiceover industry. If you would like to ask Rob Sciglimpaglia a legal question about voiceover, please email him directly at the e-mail below.

Comments

  1. Hi there, I have a question.
    How can I protect my information (social security number) when I need to fill out the W9 form for my client? Because I record for people on the internet, and sometimes have no idea who they are! That’s why I need to protect my information. Let me know and thanks for your time!
    Ernest

    • Hi Ernest. That is a great question because W-9s are required by law so that whoever pays you can report the income to the IRS and send you a 1099 at the end of the year. There really is no guarantee that whoever has your Social Security number is not using it for illegal purposes. What I recommend is that you apply for an Employer Identification Number for your business, as either a sole proprietorship, or an LLC or Corporation, and use that number on your W-9s as that will protect from having your Social Security number stolen for identity theft purposes.

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