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.