There’s no business like show business, but if it’s no business you know, you may need guidance from those in the biz!
We gathered advice from casting directors, theater owners, working actors and teachers to help you get your child ready for that first audition.
Start With Training
Talent agents often won’t sign a child actor who isn’t properly trained, both in the art of acting and for the professional business of the audition process. That’s why Carole Dibo, Wilmette Theatre co-owner and Director of their Actor’s Training Center, advises “take classes from people in the business; working actors, real directors, talent and casting agents.” These instructors can also act as advocates providing a gentle assessment of readiness for launching into the business, and real-time advice on finding agents, photographers and audition opportunities.
You’re Hired—Yes, YOU!
Directors know casting a child actor means casting the parents, and you need to know that too. Parents have to make sure the child is available and on time for auditions, callbacks and productions. An agent won’t recommend a child who continually declines auditions due to a parent’s schedule. Courtney Rioux of The Green Room cautions against behaving like cliché stage parents, “pushy, over-bearing parents can negatively impact a child’s chances to get the job.”
Preparing for Audition
It’s essential that a child knows her lines and understands the storyboard for an audition, but too much directing from parents can create a problem. Rioux cautions, “don’t over-rehearse the child since you don’t actually know how the director will want to hear the lines.” She suggests that children with improvisational training are most prepared for the demands of auditioning.
Parents should help kids understand they are not expected to book every audition. “Help them see the audition process as another exciting opportunity to perform and share work,” recommends Jennifer Green of Piven Theatre Workshop. “Actors cannot control whether or not we get the part, we can only control our own performance and professionalism,” information that will get back to an agent and help ensure further auditions and opportunities, Green advises.
Whether on stage or on-camera, an actor needs to be identifiable to the audience. David O’Connor, owner of O’Connor Casting Company, recommends doing some homework—by watching TV! “Watch kids in commercials and films, pay attention and you will see they are smart, relatable, maybe even goofy, but in a genuine way.” Most importantly, our experts agreed, your child must enjoy acting and needs to have fun in order to be successful. “Don’t make them grow up too fast. Let your kids be kids, let them have real kid experiences—that’s what directors want,” O’Connor urges.
Editor’s note: Read Kim’s first article in this series, “Is your Child’s Acting Dream Giving You Stage Fright?”