Use social media tools as well as Google to research potential acting coaches, agents, or managers. See if you can find accounts on Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace, etc, for the people and business you are investigating. Is what they are posting consistent with what they are saying?

Be sure to see if there is any mention of the people you research in industry sites like Backstage, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and Deadline Hollywood. They may be mentioned in stories as legit, which can confirm their credibility. On the other hand they may show up in a story about impersonation!

IMDB is a fantastic source for information, but the most relevant entries can only be accessed if you have a Pro account. These currently run $19.99 per month, or a discounted $149.99 per year. This may seem steep, but the details available through a Pro account can be truly valuable. For example, you can look up any agent, manager, producer, director, actor, etc, and see their connections and contact info.

In the case of researching an agent or manager, you can see who they are representing and where those clients fall in the pecking order known as the “Star Meter,” a ranking that changes weekly, and is based on algorithms that measure popularity/interest on their site. The lower the number the higher the ranking—in other words a ranking of 1,000 is much better than a ranking of 50,000. Currently there are about 5.7 million people listed on the site.

Obviously, a very successful agent or manager will have some high-ranking actors in their client list. If all, or nearly all their client list is lower ranking, you may want to keep looking. One note: it isn’t important that the agent or manager themselves have a high ranking—these people usually keep a pretty low profile.

While you’re on IMDB, if you have a Pro account, drill down more deeply into the client list of a prospective agent or manager. What kinds of projects have their clients been doing? Are there a lot of short films, un-credited roles (which translates into background/extra work), or old entries? Are there a lot of roles for films or TV projects that no one has heard of? This points to a client list that is not actually getting quality work, and probably indicates someone who—while they may be legitimate—is not someone you want to sign on with. And if the prospective agent or manager is not even listed on IMDB? Move on! An important note: unlike agents and managers, acting coaches do not have listings on IMDB, so this is not a good way to check their credentials.

Finally, there are a lot of “modeling schools,” pageants, and talent contests out there that charge a small fortune and turn out a lot of hopefuls each year. As long as you recognize that the primary result of these “schools” is to boost your child’s confidence and poise, and if their fees are worth that, go ahead. But if you are hoping that they will do something for your child’s acting career, you should probably save your money. At the risk of ruffling some feathers, I will tell you that this stuff matters to no one in the business, and will not be taken seriously.

BizParentz.org has an excellent section on spotting and avoiding scams, and I highly recommend reading it.

My book, The Hollywood Parents Guide, available on Amazon contains everything I wish I’d known when Dove and I started this journey, and will save you untold amounts of time, money, and stress. Full of information you MUST know, it also features stories from parents of other kids who’ve made it!

Or book an hour consulting with me to come up with an individualized plan that takes your own unique needs into account. For about the cost of an hour with a professional acting coach, you can get your questions answered and a road map to help you move forward toward your dream.

Invest a little in your kid’s future today.

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