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Anonymous
Anonymous asks:
Q:

How to get my children into acting?

I am the parent of three children - 4 year old twins (girl and boy) and a 12 year old girl.  Many times when we are out together people comment about how "poised" or "cute" they are and if they are involved with acting or modeling.  My twelve year old has been involved in school plays and camps and does love the theater. She now is pressuring me to persue some "real" acting jobs for her.  My four year olds are quite outgoing and perhaps they would be very happy to be involved in television shows or commercials.  
 
Is there any group that can help guide me to what I would need to know about the acting world for my children?  How do you get started?  Who to trust?  Does anyone at Education.com have any information regarding children who are actors or models and what to do, including laws about schooling?
 
Any and all information would be great.  Oh, and if it is important we live on the East Coast.  THANK YOU!!
In Topics: Creative arts
> 60 days ago

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Louiseasl
Jul 27, 2009
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Best Answer!

what's this?
from a fellow member
Hello!  This is a great question and on a topic not often touched on at Education.com  As a parent of a now young adult actor, I can tell you that there is much to learn when you and your children venture down the road of the entertainment industry.

First and foremost-  NEVER, NEVER, EVER pay for an audition.  There are people/businesses out in many communities that promise to get your child in front of top casting directors if....1) you pay for an audition or 2) pay for headshots/professional photography or 3) pay for expensive acting classes that often put parents in debt.

Reputable agents, managers and casting directors do not ask for fees for auditions or "go sees".  Agents and managers make their money from payment from companies that cast an actor for on camera or print work.

Now let us look at your children and their ages.  Four year olds do not need formal acting classes.  I have helped agents when they are seeking new talent and they often want to see children who are natural, able to take direction and can be patient when there is a long wait.  (The entertainment industry is full of hurry up and wait situations!)  Many times casting agents are looking for children who are comfortable and at ease when there are many people in a room.  They also like to see children who are quick witted and think fast on their feet.  Early readers are a plus.  Having skills such as bike riding, being at ease with animals and good speech skills is a plus.  Missing teeth and glasses are sometimes an asset vs. a problem.

  My understanding is that older children who look younger have a better chance at longevity in this business.  Thus, if your 12 year old can play the role of a ten year old that might be good.  Twelve is a tricky age in the entertainment business.  It was the age my daughter started and she was often dissuaded by people as the field is flooded with pre-teens and young teens who want to be "discovered".  However, a young teen that has a confidence, has had experiences that will help him/her to stand out, such as athleticism, musical ability, multilingual or an unusual look, may excel over others.  One must for all student aged actors is that they need to be good students.  My daughter was often asked if she was a B average student or better.  You may wonder why?  The answer is that there are laws that ensure that child actors (up to high school graduation) receive education while being involved in filming/print work during school hours.  Sometimes, a tutor will be ordered to work with the child during the day.  These laws are especially enforced if the child has been employed on union sets and needs to join the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Actors Equity (AEC).

Here is what a family starting out should know...

1- Make sure that your child or children want to go down this road.  It is paved with hard work, rejection and very little financial benefit for most.  Often the hours are long and families need to be committed.  I recall needing to cease full-time employment so I was able to drop everything at a moment's notice and rush with my daughter to an audition 100 miles away from home.

2- Make sure to check for casting calls that are legitimate. Always accompany your children. (Same for when they get work and are on sets as this is the law).  I have supplied you with websites below that should have important legal and casting information.  Please read them.  

3-  Again.... never pay for an audition.  This should be a mantra for all parents of actors.  Temptation is great as people will promise you the sky if you pay, however, don't.  Disney has a specific casting process and expensive acting classes that parents often can't afford is usually not the guarantee to being the next Hannah Montana.

4- Have your child read a lot.. aloud.  Let them be comfortable with simple one minute monologues (Available at bookstores or libraries).  Good reading and memorization skills are key.

5- When you get a call to audition remember that it is a competition.  Usually only a few people (or maybe one) "wins".  The others go home and get to practice and start again.  Sometimes you will audition and not hear anything for weeks then "the" call comes in that your child got the role. Be prepared. Truly anything can happen.  Also, an agent once told me something very smart.  When you go to an audition pack a bag and be prepared to stay.  Have extra headshots and resumes, a change of clothing and anything important, especially if you are traveling a distance for this audition.  A few times I would drive with my daughter to a city 150 miles away and then leave only to get a call from her agent that they wanted to see her again later the same day for a "call back".  This is in essence the second part of an audition process where they have dwindled down their selections to just a few candidates.  

6- Your family needs to be all in agreement about pursuing this industry.  There will be times when one child (and it could be only one of the twins) will get several auditions while the others do not.  Boys are more in demand than girls as the competition is less. At an open call recently the girls outnumbered the boys 3 to 1.

7- When you get a job be a good parent on the set and have your child demonstrate excellent patience and congeniality.  Complainers, people who do not follow directions and those who are only trying to get work for their children to meet celebrities are often not asked back. Chances are first roles will be those of an "extra" and you will find that exemplary behavior can be of benefit.  (This includes parents too).  One time, my daughter was on the set for a major television show.  We were told not to bring any cameras.  One father did and then hounded some of the "stars" for photos with his son. They were sent off the set.  Later that same day, the director noted that my daughter was very friendly and had a real interest in filmmaking.  He invited her to watch the acting from behind the cameras when she was done with her scene.  To this day I believe that helped her decide that behind the camera was as exciting to her as in front of the camera.

8-  Make a support system with parents you meet.  About five years ago I was lucky to accompany my daughter on to a set of a small independent movie that she had been given a small role.  The hours were long.  The cast was usually just a dozen or so at any time.  I met wonderful parents and many of us remained friends to this day.  We know that often our "kids" are up for the same roles, but all agree that we wish each other the best of luck and champion everyone's success.  If you go in to the business with this attitude and your child actor has the same then the experience is far more pleasurable.

Enjoy the websites below. the listing for Brian Dragonuk is for the east coast.  He has a wonderful listserv that is top notch.  Each of the websites below has different information.  Also, you may wish to peruse http://www.IMDB.com for fun.

Good luck and break a leg!

Louise Masin Sattler, NCSP
Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Owner of Signing Families
http://www.SigningFamilies.com
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Additional Answers (6)

CreativeRachna
CreativeRac... , Child Professional, Teacher writes:
Congratulations on deciding to involve your children in drama or acting.  Theatrical arts has many benefits.  Children grow up wanting to "act" as they grow and learn about the world around them.  The following Education.com article explains the benefits of involving your child in the dramatic arts, and sources where you can start them off.  Community centers, libraries, museums, churches, and local colleges and universities are all great places to start to see whether your child loves the act of performing.  They are great places to start them in acting classes or workshops.  The following link has other sources to go to for finding theater arts programs in your area.

http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Introducing_Dramatic/

I hope this is helpful,
Rachna
> 60 days ago

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FetchPetCare
FetchPetCare writes:
Hi there, Anonymous! I read your question and wanted to tell you less about what you SHOULD do and more about what you SHOULDN'T do...hope it helps. My family went through this recently when our then-6-year-old son was with one of us in a public place and a lovely young lady asked my spouse if our son liked the shows "I Carly" and "Hannah Montana." In point of fact, he has never seen them but it opened a dialogue that resulted in her telling us she was a talent scout for a major provider of child actors for the television and movies. She wanted us to bring our son to a casting session that was scheduled for a few days later. Without going into the entire long drama, suffice to say that the casting agent liked our son and asked us if we would allow them to help him get into television. We said yes and that's when the fun began. First, we needed to sign up with them to represent us. That made sense to us, but there was a fee for their efforts. It wasn't huge (though the initial offer was for over $3,000 worth of services) and they were more than happy to let us pay in installments. Then, there were headshots that had to be taken, for a fairly minimal fee (I think it was about $100 for 75 copies). After that, there were acting classes: 10 sessions, $75 each. Then, there are showcases for casting agents from the industry: price varied.

At any rate, the end result was that this company was really more about earning money for themselves and when they get a little too much negative publicity, they go underground, change their name and then do the same thing all over again. There are scores of records online about this company and what little power they actually have in the industry.

To add a bit to the mix...it turned out that our son was THEORETICALLY interested in being in acting. The really hard work of learning lines and procedures and waiting for other people to set things up...that wasn't his cup of tea. So, after about 2 months of classes, we decided he wasn't enjoying himself enough to make it worth giving up his involvement in the other parts of his life that bring him joy.

Your children may be entirely different in their responses but keep in mind that just because other people remark that your children are lovely, it may be more that they are impressed by the way you've brought them up and how well-socialized they are. In this day and age, that's impressive, in and of itself! But I'd recommend that you have your eldest join one of the children's theater groups in your area, or perhaps a local amateur group, to learn what's really involved and the kind of commitment it takes. If she's still interested, get a good photographer in your area who has done portfolio work for someone before to take a few head shots and perhaps a few full-body shots. That shouldn't cost a great deal of money, less than $400 for 50 copies or so (a total guess but I think I'm in the ballpark).

With photos in hand, use a search engine to find the names of several of the busiest agencies that book youth talent for the film and television industry. You'll also be able to find several resources for how to make a "package" that includes your child's photos, some background info, what you child has done or would like to do in film. That's the package you send to the agencies. Child actors are always in demand, but it's a process that usually can't be circumvented by an intermediary. If someone tells you they can get you "inside" for a set fee...they are more than likely not who they pretend to be. Don't pay thousands of dollars to someone who is really just after the quick buck and will leave you in the lurch when the hard work should be starting.

Good luck! Oh...and for your twins, I'd just let them watch this process unfold and if they seem really interested, start to incorporate them in the go-alongs and try-outs. The younger, early reader set has a whole different set of challenges when it comes to acting and many of them are actually "discovered" when they go with siblings to auditions and shoots.
> 60 days ago

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Meljus
Meljus writes:
My son is 14cand has been involved with theater and musical theater for 5 years now. Since he was a baby I have had people say he should model or act but I let him choose. For years he was very involved with soccer, playing year round as a forward center until 5th grade when he decided to audition for the school play. He hasn't played soccer since and is beginning high school at a performing arts school which he got into after auditioning. In my opinion, you should first see if it is something they want to do. There are plenty of acting camps, dance schools, and local community acting troupes for children if your schools do not offer theater. If they fall in love and you want them to pursue acting then I would have headshots done or take your own headshot (do not pay a fortune) and find an agent that does not charge you money unless they work, ie their percentage for actual work they get for your child. I to live on the East Coast very close to Boston and there are plenty of reputable agents as well as plenty of theater and camps for the kids. Be prepared that camps and schools for acting and theater can be very pricey and be prepared to become a taxi service but make sure this is something your kids want to do first.
> 60 days ago

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nmiller12
nmiller12 writes:
There is a company called Phaze 2, which is a company looking for talent in singing, acting, modeling, etc. they are the middle man to companys looking for talent. look up there website for more information !
Resources:
> 60 days ago

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StageDoorDesigns
StageDoorDe... writes:
I am the mom of a kid in the business and the owner of a company that helps parents get started. Check out the website below and contact us for help on all this kind of thing.
> 60 days ago

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jeffreyevers
jeffreyevers writes:
Hello friend, you can get your children into acting by bring them into theater and show good movies.
> 60 days ago

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