It’s not easy to be the parent of a young working actor. You’re required by law to be on set, within sight and sound of your child… but you are also basically expected to be seen and not heard.
This can be challenging for many parents. Unlike other activities your kid might be involved in—soccer, gymnastics, whatever—you can’t just drop them off and come back when the activity is over. You need to be there for the duration, and that may mean all day!
The best (and by best I mean most successful in terms of doing right by their kid) stage parents manage to stay nearby, keep an eye on their kid, and stay out of the way otherwise.
Parents who cannot resist getting into the business of the other professionals on set run the very real risk of damaging, or even derailing their child’s career altogether. The list is probably endless, but here are some examples of things parents might be tempted to do that will make their kid less desirable to work with:
- Directing their child (this is the director’s job!)
- Interfering with the wardrobe department
- Interfering with the hair and makeup department
- Interfering with other actors in any way
- Stepping onto set while filming is occurring unless their child is in immediate danger
- Arguing with the director unless their child’s safety is in question
- Arguing with anyone who is doing their job unless their child’s safety is in question
- Demanding special treatment for their child
- Complaining routinely and vocally
- Creating conflict with other parents on set
What is sad is that the parents who engage in these kinds of behaviors rarely see themselves as overstepping, or understand that all departments share information. If a parent causes grief to the hair and makeup department, for example, the artists will probably report the issue to production. If production hears or sees numerous red flags, they will get back to casting.
Ultimately, a child who may be very talented but whose parent consistently makes life difficult on set will not be hired back, and may well miss out on future opportunities because the word has spread. If the problem is bad enough, the child may get written out of the show or simply replaced. In some cases, even a popular show that is so broken by the negative impact of out-of-bounds parents may be prematurely cancelled.
Parents are part of the package that comes with a child actor. There are so many talented kids whose parents are easy to work with—who contribute to a positive environment, who simply do the work of being a great parent and then stay clear of the other areas of production that are not their own—that it isn’t difficult for casting or production to choose those kids to work with.
If you have the good fortune to find yourself on a working set with your child, it means that you have both worked pretty hard to get there. Help your child continue to get work by consciously sticking to your own job—being their parent—and resist the temptation to cross that boundary. Everyone on set thanks you, and your child’s future does 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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