What about the “Momager” option? (Sorry, Dads—my very unscientific poll shows that 90% of the parents who primarily handle their kid’s career are women, not men). For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about: a “momager” is the slang term for a mom who serves as her kid’s manager. They tend to have a pretty poor reputation in the Industry.
Opinions vary widely on this question. In my case, I never felt qualified to position myself as Dove’s official manager. These people are professional for a reason. I may be intelligent and educated, but my knowledge of the industry comes largely from my experience and perspective as a parent, not from years spent managing multiple careers of actors.
It seems to me that many parents who officially manage their kids are in dangerous territory for two reasons: they are likely shortchanging their kids as managers since they are probably not as good as a true professional would be (and not as good as they think they are!); and by being in an official business and financial relationship with their dependent child, they are further complicating an already complicated relationship.
Was I effectively Dove’s unofficial manager? Of course. As her mom, I was basically Mission Control. Until she turned eighteen recently, I needed to be, legally. Now that she is technically an adult I’m not required to play this role, but in reality she’s both too young and too busy actually working to deal with all the communications and details that her career requires. So some of that is still in my court, and we are organically transitioning these details over to her and her team over time.
It can be truly difficult to play both roles of parent and manager, official or not. Those roles have different agendas. Your kid needs you to primarily be their parent, and if you are not extremely conscious about this, it can be easy to slip into professional mode way too often. When more of your conversations are about work than about life you know you have a problem. And it can happen. It even happens with me and Dove sometimes, despite constant awareness and our best efforts. And when it does, it feels awful for both of us.
I think the riskiest thing about a parent being the manager is that it removes an important protective layer between the child and the profession. If you have professional management, then the parent is free to simply advocate for their kid. Sometimes the best interest of the child and the best interest of the child’s career are at odds. In this case the parent needs to step up and make sure that their kid’s needs as a person are given priority. This is not always easy if the projects are big and the stakes feel high. But you are the only one who can do this.
Are there great Momagers (and Dadagers) out there? Yes—I know one or two. But most people should play the role they took on for life when their child was born—parent. And leave the management to professionals.
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!
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