Cool news!! I am excited to share that I am now an official Backstage Expert! Woohoo! I’ll be contributing a column every month, aimed at educating and inspiring parents of young actors. Here is my first piece, originally published last week on Backstage.
Link to original article: 7 Tips for Staying Sane While Helping Your Child Pursue an Acting Career
A recurring theme among parents of child actors is feeling stressed.
We can worry more than our kids do about nearly everything involved in the process, and our stress can transfer to our kids.
We worry about whether they can deal with the inevitable rejection of the audition process. We worry about their safety. We worry about whether they will ever achieve their dream of being a professional actor. We worry about finances, and how the pursuit of a career for our young actor will impact the rest of the family.
Here are some basic tips and strategies to help parents enjoy the ride more—so their kids can too.
1. Recognize that some things are in your control, and some things are not.
Yes, do all you can to increase your kid’s odds of success, but let the rest go. Things you can control include:
- Signing them up for quality classes
- Getting good headshots every year
- Opening a Coogan/blocked trust account if your state, or the states your child is auditioning in requires it (CA, NY, NM, LA)
- Securing a work permit if your state requires it (Not sure? Check HERE)
- Looking for opportunities to audition, even before your kid has an agent. Join an online casting site like Backstage and submit when you see an appropriate role. Like everything else in life, your kid will get better with every audition they do. This alone will make a huge difference to their odds of eventual success.
2. Make peace with everything outside your control:
- Your kid’s height, weight, coloring, and basic “look”
- Whether those things are what casting wants for a particular role or not
- Whether producers want an established name or a fresh face for a given role
- Luck and timing
3. Take steps to protect your child while they pursue their dream:
- Never put your home address on their resume or any online casting boards
- Monitor their social media (run it if they are under 13)
- Use the law: make sure any professionals they engage with (acting, voice, and dance teachers, headshot photographers, managers, etc.) have a Child Performer Services Permit if you are in California (studio teachers and agents are exempt as they have already passed background checks) Search the database HERE
- Always be within sight and sound of your child while on sets (a union rule, but not always enforced, and not in effect for nonunion shoots)
4. Be realistic about your finances.
Never jeopardize your family’s well being in the pursuit of your child’s dream. Set a threshold for the maximum amount you will spend, or a minimum of savings to maintain, and if you hit that number, be prepared to take a break until things stabilize.
5. Make sure everyone in the family is on board.
Check in regularly with your partner, if you have one. Similarly, check in with any siblings, to be sure the rest of your family feels honored and equally loved. Make sure your young actor contributes to the household regardless of how successful they may become. This will go a long way toward keeping your family healthy and happy.
6. Practice being a strong emotional base for your child.
Supporting a child actor can be an emotional roller coaster. Don’t get overly upset when they don’t get a hoped-for role. Similarly, don’t get overly invested when they DO succeed. This will help them develop an internal emotional compass, so they aren’t dependent on external success for their self-worth. Also it will help you keep a sense of perspective!
7. Look for opportunities for self-care.
Above all, you need to be able to maintain the resources and sanity necessary for this adventure. Both short-term and long-term self-care are important: you need a future of your own when your kids become young adult actors!
It takes courage, imagination, and faith to believe your kid could be a successful professional actor. Remember: if you knew the outcome, it wouldn’t be an adventure! Look for ways to enjoy the journey and your child will enjoy it too.
ALSO SEE: Zen and the Art of Professional Acting
I know how challenging it can be to simultaneously parent and navigate an industry that is often opaque. Sometimes it’s incredibly helpful to get a reality check with someone who’s been there. A session with me can make a huge difference for your approach AND your peace of mind! Schedule a consultation with me on Skype, phone, or in person in LA HERE. I look forward to speaking with you!