Even with all the pieces in place—a supportive family, financial stability, genuine talent, a solid resume, and a great team—this business is difficult and there are no guarantees that your child will succeed. Having these things helps of course. And your child could succeed without some of them, but the road is even more challenging. Pursuing a career as an actor—or helping your child to– is in many ways an exercise in faith.
Every audition is an exercise in faith. Faith that the time and energy spent preparing will not be wasted. Faith that this role is really yours (or your child’s). Faith that if your kid is not cast that there is a reason for it that lines up with the greater good. Faith that everything happens for a reason.
We would never have had the courage to put everything we owned into a moving truck and drive to Los Angeles, leaving all of our family and friends behind if we did not have faith.
Many people find faith in religious traditions, and some find it without organized support. But whatever direction you draw it from, I think you and your child must have some kind of faith, and resilience, to survive the constant uncertainty and rejection that is the daily experience of someone going after a career as an actor. Certainly these are good strengths to have for anyone in any walk of life.
I wish we had actually counted how many auditions Dove went out for before finally landing her first role—a recurring guest star on Shameless. But I do know that the audition just before that one—one day before, on a different series—was for “Mud Covered Girl.” That’s right—a girl covered in actual mud, unrecognizable, who had one line. And she didn’t get it. That night when we got off the phone with Dove’s agent who delivered the bad news (was it really bad news?) that she didn’t get the role, Dove moaned, “This is ridiculous! I can’t even get ‘Mud Covered Girl’?!” It was definitely a low point, and rather sobering. Really—if you can’t get Mud Covered Girl, what can you get?
It turns out that you can get the attention of a different casting director literally the next day, one who thinks you are perfect for what they need. And finally land on IMDB with a role on a critically acclaimed show and suddenly be vaulted into a whole different league of auditions, for much bigger roles. And it bears noticing that if Dove had been cast as Mud Covered Girl, the guest star role would not have happened, because she would not have been available.
This was encouraging, but it would be another eight long months before she was cast again, in the pilot that eventually became Liv and Maddie. There were many near misses along the way, and at that point around a hundred auditions, mostly for leads and supporting leads, many for roles Dove really wanted. And some for roles she didn’t want as much, but her agent wanted her to get in front of the casting director just to begin a relationship.
If she/we had given up at twenty, or fifty, or even ninety-eight auditions, she might be attending Santa Monica Community College or FIDM right now instead of starring in her own show, promoting her fourth film, and collaborating with songwriters and producers for an upcoming album. There is nothing wrong with that other path—and there is much that is right about it—but that wasn’t the dream. Giving up means giving up the dream. But it also creates the space for a new dream to emerge.
It takes a great inner strength and belief in yourself to get up and memorize new sides, then walk into a room in front of a casting director and camera over and over again, when there is no definite evidence that you will succeed. The kids who do this are amazing to me, and so are their parents. Learning to take rejection without having it be personal is critical for this business, and an important life skill. So is developing the emotional resilience to get out of bed and chase your dream despite the odds.
Ultimately, I feel that there are enough valuable life experiences to be gained from the pursuit of this dream that even if it doesn’t take you and your child where you want to go, it is likely to be worth it. My personal mantra has become, “May the right thing happen.” I have given up believing I know what the right thing is. Too many times what looked like a gift was not, and what looked like disaster was actually a gift.
At this point in my own journey—which has included four-plus years as a Hollywood parent—I am firmly in the camp of “everything happens for a reason.” This is my way, and the way of many other people I meet in this business, of trusting that the universe/God is guiding things in the right direction, and it supports my sense of faith when the inevitable curveballs come. May the right thing happen for you and your child too.
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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