Many children will eagerly tell you what they want to be when they grow up – a fireman, a doctor, a teacher, a scuba diver, an astronaut! But what if you have an aspiring starlet who already knows exactly what he or she wants to do – act professionally. The road to becoming a child actor is paved with a lot of failure and frustration, but if you've got a little performer on your hands, it's hard not to consider taking a walk down that road.
So what does the world of young Hollywood entail? What exactly are you getting your kid into? Well, youngsters are surely in demand in the entertainment industry, especially today. So if your child has talent and a bit of star appeal to go along with it, it might be a worth a shot to see if they can be successful in the entertainment industry. But don't get too starry-eyed. Your child is not necessarily going to be the next Harry Potter. However, if acting is his or her favorite craft, a commercial spot or two will be a fun, and an even well-paying job at that.
Before you set off on such a bold pursuit, make sure of two things: you are alert to the wants and needs of your young performer and that you have the free time to buffer the pressure and competition of the entertainment industry with good parenting. Both success and rejection can be difficult animals to handle for both the parents and the child actor, so it's important to keep a level head on every film set and audition.
So, what specifically can you do as a parent to avoid that horrible label of “stage mother” or “stage father?” From the get-go, you need to have a long conversation with your child and explain that to accomplish the goal of becoming a child actor, it will take a lot of hard work and will not be easy. Just as you'd encourage your child to be disciplined in a sport, like basketball, or in playing a musical instrument, like the flute, you want to do the same for acting. Also, remind your child that he or she should not expect fame, but simply opportunities to hone in on their craft. Becoming a child actor is not about becoming a star – if you approach it any other way, you and your child will be very disappointed. Only a lucky few ever make it to stardom!
So, now that you've waged your child's interest in acting against the ultimate payoff, what do you do next? Don't immediately seek out a talent agent. Instead, help your child get involved in his or her school's theater programs and/or the community's theater programs, and take a look at fine arts summer camps too. Encourage your child to explore his or her talents in a fun-filled, safe learning environment. Only until your child can get a grasp on acting and prove that they are committed to the craft, should you start hunting for a talent agent.
Now, put together a resume, complete with photograph of your child (it doesn't have to be a professional one though), and then visit talent agencies nearby. Perhaps you will get a response from a talent agent immediately, or perhaps you'll have to send out a bunch more resumes before you ever get any attention. That is the nature of the entertainment business, and you have to be prepared for this – if you aren't, your child certainly won't be!
Every career field has its ups and downs and just as you'd nurture a budding scientist, you'll want to do the same for a budding performer. Simply reevaluate the process every day – always be sure that your child is taking the lead and that their self-esteem and development is only improved from day-to-day. If becoming a child actor requires too much sacrifice and too little reward, then go ahead and throw in your cards. You don't have to go the professional route today, or ever.
It's also important to note that there are many laws in place to protect youngsters who professionally act. Investigate these so that you can know when your child's rights are being threatened. For example, the amount of hours a child works from week to week has a limit – know this limit and more importantly, know your child's limitations in general!