Sunday, October 16, 2011

What To Consider When A Child Is Interested In An Acting Career

If you have a child, have you ever thought, how cool it would be to see your little one on the big screen, on a television show or even on a commercial? As a mother to a happy    go lucky five year old, the thought has crossed my mind, not once but many times. From the moment my daughter was two, neighbors, friends and strangers would say, "she is too adorable" and that her round "expressive eyes, could win over audiences." Back then, I thought, "that is sweet" and didn't pay much attention to the complements or think that there may be some truth to what was being said. Today, I see a lot of potential in my daughter and not because she has an adorable look but because she is confident in speaking in front of people and unafraid of being herself. 

In June of 2010, before moving to North Hollywood, California, I took my daughter to an audition at the Macy's shopping center in Seattle, Washington. There were about a pocketful of young children there, similar to my daughter's age and the rest were in their mid teens. I was a little scared thinking to myself, "am I pushing this on her?" They interviewed her and without any nervousness, and with a diva attitude she answered all the questions as if she was talking to one of her close friends from school. This experience was an eye opener as well as a confirmation in that my daughter does have that star potential. Even though this was her first time being in front of a camera, taking directions and in memorizing lines, she was a natural. The agents loved her and wanted to sign her that day. Unfortunately, at that time I could not accept the offer because my family and I were planning a big move. 

On the way home, my daughter said to me, "when are we coming back?" I explained to her that I wanted her to experience what it's like to participate in an audition and being in front of the camera with a live audience. She then replied confidently, "I liked it mom. I want to be on the Disney channel. I know I can do it mom!" This was the very moment I knew that my daughter was seriously interested in acting and that it was time for me to start contacting talent agencies. Now residing in California and having sat down with my daughter several times to explain the pros and cons of pursuing an acting career, we are finally ready to take her potential to the next step. She is very interested, aware of the work that is involved and excited about pursuing an acting career.

After much research, understanding the ramifications of child actors/actresses and some good old soul searching, I have learned that there are several things you should be aware of as well as consider before making the plunge. One thing you must ask yourself, do you have time to manage your child's career? If not, is there someone you can trust to manage your child's career? If you are the parent or guardian of the child, know that it is you who knows the child better than anyone else; an acting career has its pros and cons and your involvement in this process is in your child's best interest. So, if you are not going to be your child's manager, be involved no matter what! 

Second, prepare your child by taking print photos, creating a reel, portfolio, video resume, blog or video log. Agencies usually have a submission process, which is having information about the child, a portfolio, and print photos. Sending an email or letter to an agent without these requirements will take you back to square one or even diminish your child's chances of landing a gig with that particular agency. 

Blogs are quite popular with adults but your child could also create a blog with your authorization of course. If you are interested in seeing a great example of a child blog, please take a look at Andrew's Voice. This eight-year old is not only blogging but he is also showcasing videos on his blog. Not only will this add more kudos to your child's resume but also is a great way to get your child in the habit of creating content as well as engaging an audience. To that effect, you could add Google Analytics to the blog and use SEO components to help your little one learn about his or her audience and how to effectively market his or her content.

Having a reel or video resume can also add a lot of flair to your child's portfolio. Take a look at Hannah Taylor Greene's reel, as well as Dante Brown's reel, both impressive and quite effective. Having a reel shows not only creativity but also showcases your child's experience in photo as well as in acting. On another note, if you are showing up at an agent's office, make sure you have either print photos or a portfolio. Most agents will want to have a physical photo to keep as a reference. 

Lastly, there are many agencies to choose from so, make sure you choose wisely and are reading the fine print. As a conscience parent, I know that I would certainly not want my daughter working with an agency that does not have her best interest at heart. If you can afford having a lawyer present at all times great! If not, be sure to read the fine print and educate yourself on contracts before investing or signing any agreement. In addition to this, remembering that your child is a child and that he or she may change his or her mind at anytime in pursuing this type of career is very important. Acting is not easy and will dramatically change your child's life, which can be good as well as bad. It is important that you realize that even though you would love to see your little one make it big, it is their sacrifice and taking your child's needs into consideration should be your number one priority.

Again, take notes, work diligently at getting your child a good agency if you are not planning on managing your child's career and be involved in the process. No matter how natural a child may be on camera or how much stardom the child achieves, when that adorable face looks at you and says, "I don't want to do this anymore," you need to listen and do what's right for the child and not your personal outcomes. 


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blogging To New Heights: Content, Consistency, Creativity, Engagement and Uniqueness Are The Vitamins Your Blog Needs

So, you think you have what it takes to blog? This was a question I pondered previously at the end of January 2011, after my first course as a graduate student at Full Sail University. I thought to myself, what is blogging and why would I blab about my personal life or anything for that matter? At the time I didn't see a need but little did I know that I too would soon be a blogger. As a requirement to the first course in the graduate program, Media Literacy and Research, all students had to start their own blog. I was nervous and very skeptical of what to expect after I wrote my first blog post. Believe it or not that is how I began blogging. During this time I had an array of interests and somewhat unsure as to what was truly my calling within the entertainment industry. I blogged about various topics relating to music, issues within the entertainment industry and other topics relating to Latin artists.

Now, 9 months into graduate school, and 9 months of blogging, I have learned and realized that blogging and social networking are extremely valuable. Blogging is essential not only for marketing your products and services, getting exposure, connecting with your followers, meeting potential employers but also for maintaining your professional online profile. To my amazement, I am very excited about blogging and despite my schooling and the demands that come along with parenting a 5 year old, I manage to release new content online, 2-3 times a week. My next step is to take my blog to new heights. By this I mean to provide 3-4 posts a week, add a weekly podcast and offer services through my site. After that, when I have obtained a greater number in followers, I will host a giveaway. Of course this is all great and dandy but how exactly will I meet these goals? I'm sure you are wondering and because I have been doing a lot of research on this topic I feel it is only fair for you all, to know how I will meet my blogging goals. Whether you are a beginner or professional feel free to take away any of these following tips to help you on your very own blogging endeavors. 

Professors, online bloggers as well as online sources emphasize that a successful blog requires maintenance. In other words, whether it's geared to something personal or for professional means the blog must demonstrate consistency, must have quality content, the blogger must connect and engage with his or her followers regularly, and the blogger should always spice things up by displaying his or her content creatively. 

If you are looking to spice up your blog and produce creative content, I suggest you look at creative content blogger, performer, writer and much more Sujeiry, whose blog will certainly catch your eye. My blogging tip #1 is being creative with what you provide. I had the pleasure of meeting Sujeiry online a few months ago and she is a lovely person. This gal is not only actively engaging with her followers, hosting giveaways but she is also creating quality and unique content on her blog, From hosting tweet chats, to delivering relationship advice, to creative posts and video logs on her site and on YouTube, Sujeiry delivers creativity on many levels and she manages to do so, very well. She is creating not only a name for herself online with her content and creativity but is also generating a lot of buzz. Whatever you provide on your blog, make it unique, interesting and no matter how daring be consistent with your craft. 

At some point you will need to get well acquainted with social networks and an understanding to why social networks are crucial in boosting your blog. My blogging tip #2 is, follow social media experts to maximize your blogging potential. Neil Schaffer, author of two books and a leader in helping businesses and self creators excel in social media marketing as well as teaching others how to position themselves strategically within social media networks, is one of favorites and a, must follow. I first learned about Neil Shaffer through my first course at Full Sail University. His blog, Windmill Networking provides useful information as well as tips on how to position yourself across social media platforms, quality engagement and how to use social media to your benefit. 

Per research, my blogging tip #3 is, add a podcast to your blog. According to a recent article published on September 15, 2011, titled the flexibility of consistency, by Ewan Spence, "regular content is the key to a good blog, and it's also the key to a good podcast." In other words, if you already have great written content and you provide consistent content people will listen to your podcast; the other great part about podcasting is that your listenership and readership stats can go up too! If you are confident about your content and are in a stable position to add a podcast, by all means go for it! Also neat about having a podcast is that you can have a guest speaker and schedule a time to answer calls from listeners. With the feedback you receive, you can learn what your listeners like and don't like. A great podcast I follow is Gordon P. Firemark's weekly entertainment podcast. The podcast provides information on current legal issues and cases relating to the entertainment industry as well as commentary. As an entertainment lawyer, he is well known in his community and has an increasing number of followers throughout social networks. As Hector Cuevas stated in his article 5 reasons to add a podcast, having a podcast will not only set you apart from your competition, enable you to be in direct communication with your audience, will increase your blogs reach, will create loyalty between you and your listeners but will also create a platform that will allow you to interact with industry experts. 

Lastly, blogging tip #4 is, conduct an interview for your blog. Whenever you get answers from an expert, viewers are more likely to receive your content as trustworthy and that is the feedback that you want to have time after time.  A blogger I often visit for my hip-hop information and latest interviews is Dita Quinones's blog titled ghetto news flash. From hip-hop celebrity beef information, segment on politics within the entertainment industry, her remarkable photography skills and to her exclusive hip-hop artist interviews this blog is a definite one-stop shop for entertainment. If you need to see some uniquely crafted live video interviews as examples, I suggest you visit this blog. You will fall in love with the layout and the presentation will give you a well-constructed idea as to how interviews are done correctly. 

So yes, anyone can blog! All of the above will help you in delivering a good blog as well as in shaping your blog to meet your needs! There are several questions you must ask yourself before you actually start blogging. What is the purpose of your blog? Are you targeting a specific audience? What do you want to get out of your blog? Will this be a personal blog or a professional blog? How often will you commit to posting? Can you set a routine for blogging purposes? Will you be tracking your audience and visitor views? Once you have answered these questions, decide what platform you want to use to set up your blog. Then, you must decide whether or not you want to use search engine optimization and voilĂ , begin blogging! Once your blog is up and running, make sure you engage with your audience and are consistent. If visitors and followers leave comments, respond to their comments. When all is said and done, what you produce is a representation of you, so take your time and make your content worthwhile and meaningful. Besides, who wants to be misrepresented?

Best of luck on your creative content and blogging adventures!