First and foremost have fun! Maybe you will do some commercials and make some money. That’s great. But that might not happen. You might audition for non paying student films a hundred times and never get called back, or you might do a hundred freebie student films. You could well end up with anything from a bit part to a lead role in a feature film. Then again you may never get that shot. Or you could end up being a regular on a national television show, or not. But take each day one day at a time and do it for the love.
Sure, as discussed in previous articles to increase your chances of professional success it is essential that you get truly good training and guidance. But do it because you love it. Approach every day with a warm heart and a bright smile. Never allow yourself or your child to feel pressured to make money in the industry. Some kids do make money, some even make huge money but that number is much smaller than those who make little or none. Stay focused on being the best you can be and take on every event, audition, call back or role for the joy of doing it and you will be a real winner.
The truth is that when anyone, but especially kids or their misguided parents, see acting as the fast track to fame and staggering wealth failure and depression is all but guaranteed. And please consider how many child “stars” ever have successful acting careers as adults? Why do you suppose that is? Well I am no industrial psychologist but the reasons are as numerous as they are compelling. The kids simply burn out and all too often they become corrupted by attaining wealth far greater than their ability to effectively cope with it. Money really can be a huge burden. And seriously, do you think being chased by paparazzi is normal and healthy for a young teen? Should your child get lucky and get on contract for a major television series or hit an acting home run in a major feature film their lives will be rapidly and permanently changed. Some of that change can be good. After all future college expenses can quickly become a non factor. But some of that change can also be devastating and lead to life ending behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse. Too much too fast really can be deadly and the challenge weighs exclusively and heavily on the parents.
While you travel down this path in pursuit of fun and meaningful acting opportunities you will be greeted by a ferocious army of money grabbers offering all manner of mostly useless career aids. If you follow the opening piece of advice and first and foremost keep it fun you will find it easy to avoid most of these rip offs. And okay, maybe “rip off” is a bit harsh but how about goods and services you almost surely don’t need. As a child actor you probably do not need a speech coach nor an acting reel nor professional dental teeth whitening nor your own publicist nor a head shot session costing more than $300 tops. Granted there might be specific instances when specific child actors may well actually need one or more of these or other services but generally they are a waste of time and money. Typically if specific extra professional help is required the production company will both arrange for it and pay for it. But if a kid remains a kid and acts first and foremost for the sheer joy of it such added expenses are simply not called for.
And last but by no means least it is critical that parents always stay totally aware of and involved in their child’s acting activities. Always know what they are doing and who they are working with. Never ever just drop the kid off at the set. For one thing in California at least doing so is illegal and everywhere it is dangerous. I cannot imagine what motivated the young girl’s mother to allow her 13 year old daughter to go alone for a photo shoot with Roman Polanski oh so many years ago. It is not all that rare that some film maker might encourage a young man to take wild risks just to get the perfect shot. Young guys in particular will often attempt such things just to prove their manhood. The result can be deadly and for what? Now in my experience the overwhelming number of folks in the acting business are genuinely nice and well intended and professional capable people. Clearly the vast majority are neither rapists nor wild risk takers. But it is always your child and therefore always your responsibility. Keep it fun, stay involved and keep it safe and all the right results will happen in due course.
NOTE: Any Burbank actor, singer, dancer or other performing artist with a story please contact this author by email to [email protected]