So many who follow our family's adventures know that I have recently assumed the role of "Momager"...the Mom/Manager to my five year old daughter whose acting career is taking off.
I've had quite a few people reach out to see how they could possibly get their children started...so I figured that I would take some time and provide as much insight as I can, while still being fairly new to the scene.
First...your kid has to be passionate, dedicated and serious about acting. It takes a special kind of kid to make it in this industry. This journey can't be you wanting a famous kid for your own self indulgence so be honest with yourself before you even choose to embark. Anyone who knows my daughter knows she has a gift. We took her to a local audition thanks to someone sending me the information and figured we had nothing to lose. She got the part, she absolutely loved it, and immediately after at four years old she asked me to help her make more money and find her more work. Had she not asked me that, I wouldn't be writing this today. And if it ever stops being her passion, or not fun for her anymore, we'll quit and move on. The industry is not for the faint of heart, so there's no point in subjecting your child or yourself to it if they aren't passionate, dedicated and serious about it.
I know from speaking with others in the business that we have it somewhat easier at this younger age. (Keep reading though, because it's definitely not easy!) Younger kids don't really need super professional head-shots since they change so quickly. They are required to remember lines, but not terribly many and the biggest thing Casting Directors are looking for are kids who have amazingly big personalities, but also disciplined and able to sit and be quiet for time on end. Sounds easy, right?! (Anyone knows that kids with big personalities don't sit quietly for longer than about two minutes.) But depending on your child's age it could be easier...or it could be more challenging and more work/expense.
Second...if you're not an organized person or similar to a Type A personality, you will need to find someone who is to manage your child's career daily. Paperwork, e-mails, sides, permits, submissions, travel arrangements, updating resumes and casting profiles, tracking expenses, etc. is a full time job and if you are not proactive or prepared, you'll never make it. Although you may have agents or managers, a lot of the responsibility will fall on you...they are only setting up the opportunities.
While most only see the "Glitz and Glam" of the business, it needs to be understood that managing your child's potential acting career is a LOT of work...like, a LOT. And you will not get rewarded financially for your hard work for quite some time, if at all. It's definitely easier for those who live in NYC, LA, Atlanta, Chicago or other localities where Casting Directors hold auditions. However, if you're not...like us, who live in Richmond, travel adds up VERY quickly and until (or if) your child's acting career takes off, you'll only be getting a few hundred dollars per gig. In the very beginning, you may not earn anything as you'll likely take on a few student films, short films, small theatre parts, etc. to get some experience, create a resume and demo reel.
You will need to be "_________ on the Spot". With a young child, that can prove to be difficult depending on their schedules and mood. This industry's motto is "Hurry up...then wait", but with an emphasis on the "hurry". When you get a request from casting to audition, you essentially need to drop everything you're doing and take action. That includes setting up for the self-tape (each comes with its own set of instructions), making the travel arrangements if auditioning in person, trying to get your child to remember their lines and work on their expressions, etc. If a self-tape, you have to remember exactly what to have on the slate, how to edit and label the files and make sure everything is perfect since you don't have an in-person change to make that first impression. OH...and this is all done usually within 12-24 hours. And if it's a busy time, you're doing this everyday, twice a day while also managing callbacks, booked projects, possibly on set or in the middle of travel and trying to live a normal life. You'll also be guaranteed to fight with your kid(s) because they aren't always in "audition mode" and there's deadlines looming. Having fun yet?
Most importantly, you are your child's biggest advocate, support system and protector. I'm fortunate at this age for my daughter that she doesn't understand not getting a part but as children get older, anxiety and fear of rejection can kick in. Their career can take off in an instant, but also end just as quickly, plus the highs and lows along the way. Many are perfectionists. Many get bullied for being different. They don't get normal schooling. They don't live normal lives. The industry has it's bad guys and you have to fight for your child's safety, security and mental health, always. While they have a job to do, and you will fight at wits end sometimes to get projects done, you also have to keep things fun and humble for them.
You need to ensure you find ways to retain your own sanity and mental health. While it's a lot to take on, it's also a very small part in your daily lives. Sometimes there's siblings, and jobs to support families, and much more to take care of. Your WHOLE household has to be on board for this ride. Many days I'm wearing myself thin trying to work so we can financially support everything, trying to learn how to do things myself to help save costs (headshots, demo reels, etc.) and normal day to day in addition to the madness mentioned above. I'm thankful for my relationship with my partner, he fills in every gap and we are on the same page 99.9% of the time with our daughter's career. Also find a good support system of other Momagers...it's not that your family and friends can't support you, they just can't relate with the things you'll need to share and vent about.
SO...if 100% of the above applies and you want to give it a shot, I suggest finding some local opportunities and start building a resume. Get at least two solid headshots (it doesn't have to be professional, but it does need to "WOW" the prospective agents), research online for agencies that align with your child, family and goals and start submitting. Because we are so new to everything, we spend the extra commission on a Talent Manager who helps guide my daughter's career (and also helps book opportunities) and also have a Talent Agency.
Be mindful of scams...no agency will ask you for money up front. Understand that there's many divisions and facets of the industry and know what your child is best at to set them up for success. Some may only do print work (usually low pay unless a big campaign or client), or only be a background or extra kid (low pay and you're usually stuck there forever). There's also voiceovers, TV, film, commercials, etc. Learn and understand how SAG-Aftra, AEA and other unions work, when you should join and how it can limit you. (Also know you'll need to dish out $3-4k when your child does join). If you're wanting larger opportunities once your child gets signed, you'll need a blocked trust fund, work permits, passport, and other items to keep you in contention with others.
There's plenty more to be said, but hopefully this has provided you with enough information to decide whether it's right for your child/family, and if so, get started. It's a LOT of work, but a rewarding, unforgettable adventure.
I'm happy to answer any additional questions, feel free to e-mail me.
In love, peace and happiness,