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Raising a happy successful Child Actor – the top 10 things that may surprise you

Below are the top 10 surprising things that you may not know just yet and you should know, as the parent of a professional child actor or child actress. These are tips and recommendations that will help in raising a happy successful child actor.

The most surprising child actor tips have come from countless, long, but hugely enjoyable hours. I’ve spent a lot of time in acting workshops, classrooms, and heard from parents of actors. I’ve also been carefully and “actively” listening along the ride of being the parent of an actor, in hopes I might someday share this with other parents of actors.

 

1) Driving and Travel – parents be prepared to drive a lot within your own city and to the acting auditions, often child actor driving a cartimes outside your city. Until your child can drive on their own, and maybe even after that time too, you will be doing a lot of in car maneuvering. If you are not close to Los Angeles or New York, or now even Georgia or Louisiana or other cities that have started to pick up more for TV, Film and Commercial work, be prepared to fly a lot too. If you cannot afford to fly on a plane, those auditions may be out of reach for a bit of time until your child builds up some solid roles – and you may be doing taped submissions for a while – although sometimes, depending on the audition or role, they may pay for your flights to them…

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2) A Child Actor’s Clothing – You need a separate wardrobe or a separate part in their closet for acting. You can start basic and small, so don’t worry about building it up too fast – take your time with these next tips and start getting these things in their size.

Young Actress in bright shirt

This is one example of what would look good to wear. Solid shirt, bright, and not at all distracting.

Solid shirts for boys, solid type dresses or solid tops for girls, or solid skirts/jeans or pants are the way to go. For sure, your child actor should have a couple of pairs of non-ripped jeans too, as those go great with any solid tops. For the most part, unless otherwise stated, solid bright or rich deep colors are even better.

Shirts that have rips, holes, tears, or are “faded out” from the wash are not good and will hurt your child in the audition room. DO NOT have your child actor wear stripes, patterns or any polka dots as it’s distracting. Also, DO NOT have them wear clothing with any logos that show. If they do not wear glasses normally, then they should not be wearing glasses. And No Hats either. Just think of it this way, the clothes should not distract from your child’s face or body. The clothes should just enhance their eyes, their look and so forth. So keep it professional…

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3) Practice Time directly before an Audition for Child Actors-

The amount of practice time before auditions has to be professional and adequate. This cannot be overlooked or done halfway. Trying to wing it does not work in acting for children or adults. It is not like sports either, in that, just because you practiced a few days that week kicking a soccer ball with your team, you are not prepared necessarily for this new unique audition. This is because lines are often specific to the audition your child is doing. Trying to crash memorize lines into their head, in the car right before, is not considered professional and it your child will likely panic, be anxious and/or mess up in the audition room – don’t do that to them. So, with that in mind, if you have your lines the night prior, then your child should be working on the lines the night prior and the morning of, then also a few times just prior to the audition, that day…

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4) Parents of child actors and child actors need to be humble and grateful on their acting journey.

Sometimes, parents of actors have an entitlement type attitude, where they are not being humble, grateful or faithful. This type of attitude does NOT work anywhere or anytime with anyone in the acting world – and will certainly not help these child actors get roles. It’s who is the best at the part, who shines the most, and who is the right fit. Even for seasoned professional actors (like Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie or any top professional actor) it’s who is the best, shines the best, and is right for that part in their mind (not yours). Sure, we’ve all heard stories of those that buy their way in to roles, that have their parents somehow pay for a role, but to this day, it’s just hearsay, and the kids I’m seeing, get the roles because they’ve worked their way to the top and are the best at what they do…

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5. Your child needs to train at a professional acting academy or school.

child actorTraining, Training, and more professional training. Your child has to be training throughout the entire year – there is no set season where you take an entire season off. It’s absolutely encouraged to take breaks now and then for a few days for a family vacation or a weekend off here and there to balance out life and step away from the trade, but in between, year-round, your child has to be prepared and ready.

As mentioned prior, this does not just mean just to memorize lines. Just memorizing lines is not even close to what the best child actors are doing. The very best child actors work hard, attend classes consistently (many times a week), learning their craft all of the time. They take breaks, yes, they hang with their families and do sleepovers with friends, they go on field trips, and they have tons of fun outside of acting too, but they do not take an entire summers off. A summer would be a lot of time to not be prepared if an audition pops up and they will forget and will lose momentum…

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6. Your child will need a lot of your time, and it needs to be flexible time, for them to be a successful actor.

Parents of young actors, this is not really only about your child, because as the parent, you will be a CEO of your child’s acting career. That means, there will be a lot of behind the scenes work for you to do and a lot of organizing, preparing, and driving.

You should consider your current free time as your child starts out and/or becomes more passionate about acting. You may need to find creative ways to free up a little bit more time to help them succeed, as there are a lot of things you have to do along the acting journey, that are on the parent to do.

Although there are things you will do to help your child actor, there is also work you SHOULD NOT do

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7. Do not expect that your child will land a role on TV or in a film in the first year. It takes most child actors 3-6 years to land a role. Be reasonable with your expectations and have faith.

a child actressA few child actors will get chosen in their first year for film, tv and commercials, yes, this happens for some. But most kid actors take 3-6 years to become more seasoned and professional. Most actors actually take 3-6 years to even land their first role in anything for film, tv or commercials.

If you quit prior to that 3-6 year mark, and you have been working hard, you are literally throwing your hard work down the drain. It takes time like any other field or sport to learn your craft. At first it may seem like, my child just walks in, and gosh they are so very cute, and just reads the lines, so why aren’t they landing the roles? It’s absolutely nothing like that at all…

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keeping the dream alive

Me in the Recording Studio. A dream since I was a child.

8. You have to believe in yourself and your dreams as a parent, and truly believe in your own dreams, and then do something about them, for your child to take their own dreams seriously.

This does not mean to quit your job and start that band that you wanted to when you were 18, party all night long with these new band-mates and give up a great career – I’m not saying that. But it does mean that if you are not doing something you love as a job, or at least often as a side hobby, and you are not truly happy at your core, that your child can likely see through you, and they see and sense your unhappiness.

If you are unsure of what your own dream or calling even is, a few weeks ago I just completed reading a really wonderful book about discovering your dreams and then moving forward to make them happen no matter what your circumstances. The book is called: The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What you Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins

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9. When your child is working with other acting professionals, Listen to them “Actively”. Be Patient. Let them guide you. Be polite. Be respectful.

If you are talkative, you have to learn how to be quiet at times and listen, listen, listen and “actively” listen some more. I was already patient from the days when I was a teacher. However, I had to learn how to be even quieter at times and even more patient. I had to learn how to wait for my time to talk. Waiting for a time to be right to ask questions is crucial to helping my child – as it’s a delicate dance of not being overbearing with those that are doing their best to help you. Listening is so important to the parent and the child. There a lot of situations where you do not know a thing, you may think you do, but really you do not know much. So…..you just need to keep quiet, as the professionals around you advise you on the truths.

dana bookThis book “And the Good News Is”, that I’ve just finished reading (in top 10 sellers for a long time now), by Dana Perino, has helped me to see the perspective in that dignity and civility are choices we make for ourselves. We need to be able to make these choices clearly as we work with our children as actors and with those that surround our children…

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10. Acting is not Acting. Acting is BEING REAL. The best child actors are just so natural that it appears real.

Acting is not Acting. Yes, correct. A lot of us don’t even think acting should be called acting. Acting is REAL LIFE. Acting is BEING REAL. Acting is being so very REAL that you cannot even tell that the actor is not the character – they seem like one. And yes, this does take time and often does not happen just overnight for your child actor. This will happen as your child takes classes and practices…

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