What to Do When Your Child Wants to Be an Actor

Hearing that your child wants to be a professional actor can be a stressful and worrying experience. Your first reaction may be to protect your child and to explain how difficult it is to get an acting job. However, rather than telling your child how many out-of-work actors already exist and how much rejection actors experience – ask your child “Why?”

Child ActingIf your son or daughter is choosing acting for the right reasons then being supportive may be your best option. If your child loves acting, watching good actors, reading plays, or feels that theater enriches his life – support his decision. However, if acting is seen as a means to become a rich celebrity it might be time to give your child a wakeup call.

If your child is serious about being an actor, encourage them to act in school plays, take acting lessons, work behind the scenes, and take joy from the whole process. Keep in mind also that young actors are in high demand, and it is much easier to find an agent as a child than as someone over 25. Overall, don’t be disheartened but rather educate yourself about the field of acting.

Be Aware: Challenges for Girl Actors

Unfortunately the movie industry isn’t necessarily fair and it will be much harder for your daughter to land a gig than your son. The standards for girls and boys are different. There are also many talented actresses vying for just a few roles. Unfortunately, it seems tht girls must be almost superhuman to land a gig. They have to be attractive, thin, sexy, and confident as well as good at acting. Boys simply have to be good actors. There are also many more movie roles for geeky, overweight, average guys than there are for girls of a similar description. It’s an unfortunate truth of the movie business. As a parent the best you can do is ensure your child is confident enough to ride through it all.

Raising an Emotionally Healthy Child Star

One concern of many parents is that the movie business may turn their lovely son or daughter into a problem child. However, not every child actor grows up into a Lindsey Lohan. In fact there are plenty of examples of healthy and successful young actors including Evan Rachel Wood, Scarlett Johannson, and Michael Cera. A parent of a child actor may be faced with unique challenges however and should be prepared.

Introduce your child to other hobbies. Try to keep your child well-rounded and involved in activities not related to acting.

Stay interested in your child’s interests. Keep tabs on what films and shows your child likes and who their favourite actors are. Make sure to respect your child’s interests and you will remain there confidant.

Practice with your child. Work on scripts with them and ask questions about the character she’s working on.

Above all don’t be a competitive parent, jealous of other actors, and financially dependent on your child’s career. If you find yourself acting negatively it may be time to remove yourself from the scene and ask your child to wait until he’s an adult. Ultimately, if you are a supportive parent, you’re child should make it through the industry just fine.

It is Necessary to Live in L.A.?

It can be difficult for young actors to get auditions, book shows, or land films if they are not living in Los Angeles. However, difficult does not mean impossible. It will be necessary, however, to have an agent or manager who is based in L.A.

Finding an agent does not have to be difficult but may require some networking. The best way to start is simply have your child continue doing what he wants to do – act in plays, take acting classes, and attend workshops. Eventually an agent should take notice and help your child navigate the world of L.A. movies and shows. You may also want to look for an agent in your hometown that may have connections in L.A.

Overpriced programs that promise to get your child in front of the top industry folks may be beneficial but should be approached with caution. These programs include the International Modeling and Talent Association (IMTA), John Robert Powers, and ProScout. They accept anyone willing to pay the fee and are not necessarily about finding good talent.

Most agents will not recommend your family move out to L.A. permanently – at least not at first. Such a move should be made only after your child has received plenty of good feedback from trustworthy sources. Meanwhile, many casting calls can be done on the web or by video. Just keep in mind that you won’t know if your video has been watched unless you get a callback.

Auditions on Tape – A Few Considerations

Although sending in an audition on tape can be convenient it does come with a few pitfalls. Unfortunately not many child actors are chosen from taped auditions as watching all the tapes that come in is a time consuming process for the casting director. Furthermore, sending in a tape means you miss out on developing a relationship with the casting director over time.

Flying out to pre-readings is one option but may become quite costly. Another option is to live in L.A. part-time possibly sending one parent with the child actor while the rest of the family stays home. This is obviously a big decision and one not to be made lightly. However, if the family considers it a long-term investment, the move could mean more auditions for your child. Ultimately, parents must decide whether to invest in their child or let their child pursue their dreams as an adult.

How to Meet With Agents and Managers

If you are able to land a meeting with an agent you’ll want to ensure your child is well-prepared so that the meeting will go well. Your child should have his acting skills honed, be outgoing, happy to talk to strangers, and not be self-conscious. If you feel your child is not ready it may be better to skip it so the budding actor does not get frustrated.

If you decide to go for the meeting – Great! Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Parents should not dominate the meeting. Let your child answer most of the questions. These may cover what kinds of movies she likes, what she does for fun, and what kind of career she’s expecting. Don’t answer for your child and don’t make excuses.

Be informed and humble. Don’t be an overbearing parent. Agents are interviewing you as well as your child. Agents prefer parents who are patient and can take directions

Prepare your child for a cold read. The agent may ask your child to read from a script with only 15 minutes to prepare. This can be difficult, but your child should be prepared for it to happen. Remind your child to make eye contact with the agent or other reader during the scene. If he acts relaxed and confident it will go fine.

Once your child is hired and on set, remember that you are there to support your young actor. Don’t get competitive with the other parents, don’t compare your children, and don’t brag. If you put the well-being of your child first everything will go fine.

Understanding the School System for Young Actors

Even though your child may be on the way to stardom, don’t let them forget the importance of an education. Your child has a few options from home schooling, to public school or private school. Remember that acting is an education in itself, but the law requires young actors to get their school hours in.