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Helping your child cultivate their love for acting can feel like sending your sweet, wonderful progeny into battle in the middle of a minefield. As your child dreams of standing in the spotlight, your role is to become their guiding star, leading them toward their dreams while keeping their feet firmly on the ground. Talk about pressure.

When my seven-year-old told me she wanted to audition for her favorite show, I was filled with equal parts pride and apprehension. As a parent, you want to keep your child protected, insulated and away from anything that could potentially wound their self-esteem or result in failure. Having been behind the lens of film and television for years, I knew that all of those were real possibilities.

My seven-year-old is now eighteen years old and has found herself on the sets of shows like Pretty Little Liars and a myriad of others. There have been lots of dips in the road and things I wish I had known before we started.

The good news is that the process of supporting your child’s acting ambitions doesn’t have to be complicated, stressful or overwhelming, especially early on. In fact, much of it revolves around one simple concept: support. Let’s take a closer look at that and much more.

Helping Your Child Become an Actor

Here’s the truth: Every child is born with the capacity to act. We all are. But as a parent, how do you take that raw, creative energy and help it bloom?

Prioritize Play, Imagination and Exploration

It’s important to let your child’s creativity and imagination become boundless. Allow them to play, experiment and express themselves, even in unconventional ways.

Give your child the freedom to try many things, prioritizing their value as an incredible, creative human over all else.

Take time to acknowledge their dreams, no matter how big. Validate their interests and provide opportunities for them to express themselves. Set up a mini stage at home or run lines with them from their favorite movies.

Children thrive when you match them with the same enthusiasm. Ask them questions, and let them share with you the “why” behind their interests. Participate in activities or take time to celebrate afterward.

Enroll Them in Acting Classes and Workshops

It’s time to add skills to your child’s toolbox that will prepare them for whatever comes next. Enthusiasm alone doesn’t build actors. Craftsmanship comes from training.

Search for reputable acting classes tailored for kids. Remember, each acting school is unique in its approach. Some focus on theater, others on TV and film. Find a program that resonates with your child’s interests. And yes, acting skills can be taught and honed, so involve yourself in their learning process.

Acting education exists everywhere, not just in big cities or cultural hotspots. Most local theaters offer after-school theater programs, weekend workshops, and summer enrichment programs as a form of outreach. The beautiful part? Most of them are often more affordable and offer scholarships.

Workshops are another great way to expose your child to various aspects of acting in short, concentrated bursts. Rather than committing to weeks or months, you and your child can see whether it’s a good fit over three days or a weekend.

Pro Tip: Looking for some one-on-one coaching for your child? Some local theaters do not advertise acting lessons but have staff or connections that would be more than happy to do it if asked.

Build a Supportive Network

You can be an ambassador and networker for your child. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve offered help to aspiring actors simply because their parents were so nice. It’s a great practice to always try and cultivate relationships with anyone who has a hand in cultivating your child’s acting potential.

Enroll your child in local acting communities and organizations, which often prove to be treasure troves of opportunities.

Pro Tip: Check out your local theater to see what productions are in town. Reach out to cast members via the theater, LinkedIn, Instagram or email to see if they would consider offering your child private lessons on their off days or free time. It’s a great way for your child to learn and build a network connection that could become valuable in the future. My daughter built a great relationship with several actors this way, which resulted in incredible references for college and the inside scoop on several auditions.

Building a support network isn’t just for your child either. Being the parent of a child actor doesn’t exist in a bubble. It thrives on connections. Connect with other parents in the same boat. Their experiences and advice can become your roadmap.

Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment

The glitz and glam of the acting world often masks the emotional toll it can take, especially on young minds. Outbursts, mood swings and other problematic behaviors often indicate that things have been brewing under the surface for some time. Ironically, those trained to communicate on a stage can have the most difficulty expressing themselves off of one. It can be hard, especially with adolescents, but the key is to lean into communication.

As a parent, it’s your job to cushion these emotional blows. Engage in open conversations about their experiences, allow them to express their feelings freely and ensure they know it’s okay to have bad days.

Balancing School and Acting Commitments

Balancing academics with auditions can be a logistical nightmare. Design a structured routine that allocates time for schoolwork, acting classes, leisure and rest. It’s essential to maintain a balance between their professional commitments and school life to ensure they don’t miss out on the simple joys of childhood.

Understand Industry Challenges

Equip yourself with knowledge about the industry. Understand the legal aspects of child acting, from child labor laws to contractual regulations. Stay vigilant about potential exploitation and prioritize your child’s safety and well-being over any professional engagement.

Look through the resources on our website and other content online. Join Facebook groups with other parents of child actors to glean from their firsthand experiences. Your support network is going to be invaluable in this area.

Navigating the Business Side of Parenting a Child Actor

In addition to feeding, clothing and being an emotional bedrock, you’ll also need to add “business manager” to the job description. Navigating the acting world can be like venturing into a labyrinth. Knowing when it’s time to enlist the help of talent managers and agents can be crucial.

Understanding the Roles and Responsibilities of Managers and Agents

A talent manager plays an all-encompassing role in shaping your child’s career in the long term. They identify your child’s strengths, work on their weaknesses and plot a path that best showcases their talent. They may coordinate with publicists, handle press relations and even guide you in personal matters related to the industry.

On the other hand, an agent typically handles business dealings. They source auditions, negotiate contracts and secure roles for your child, ensuring they get the most beneficial deals. An agent’s job is more transactional and focuses on “here and now” opportunities.

Researching and Selecting the Right Representation for Your Child

Don’t rush to find the right representation for your child. Research prospective managers and agents by looking at their existing clientele, success rates, reputation in the industry and professional approach.

Interview them with your child present and pay attention to how they interact. Do they respect your child’s opinions and ideas? Are they patient and understanding? Representation isn’t just about professional expertise; it’s also about finding a person who can build a nurturing and trusting relationship with your child.

Financial Considerations

With the excitement of your child’s acting career taking off, it’s easy to overlook how much this will cost you. However, these are crucial to keep in mind.

Budgeting for Headshots, Classes and Other Expenses

Expenses in acting are not just limited to acting classes or workshops. There are many additional costs involved, including professional headshots, membership fees for acting unions, travel costs for auditions and wardrobe. Drafting a budget helps you understand and plan for these expenses, ensuring the financial side of your child’s acting career doesn’t become a burden.

Pro Tip: Headshots can cost hundreds of dollars. Some agencies will work the cost of headshots into your fee schedule or arrangement. However, if you’re paying out of pocket, reach out to new photographers who are building their portfolios. You’ll save money, and they’ll gain experience and a portfolio piece.

While you never want to put a price tag on your child’s dreams, a budget is a practical way to help you prioritize what is most important in the pursuit of their acting goals. To help, always be aware of any scholarships for classes and workshops and state grants for creative pursuits.

Pro Tip: Get local businesses to sponsor your child’s acting education and activities. Many programs offer sponsorship opportunities that businesses can write off as marketing expenses. In exchange, the program will apply a credit toward your tuition.

Understanding Contracts, Negotiations and Payment Structures

Contracts in the acting world can be convoluted, filled with industry jargon and fine print. It’s essential to understand these to protect your child’s interests. Know the payment structures – are they getting paid per episode or per season, or is it a movie contract? How much is the agent’s commission? What if your child falls sick or is unable to perform for some reason?

Negotiations are also important. Having an agent who can negotiate effectively is invaluable, but as a parent, having a basic understanding of this skill helps you stay involved and ensure your child is treated fairly.

Finding Auditions and Casting Calls for Kids

Connecting your child’s talent and skills with the right opportunity is when things get fun for both of you. It’s a great way to potentially land a gig, assess their progress and continue to learn. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to find auditions and casting calls.

Utilizing Online Resources and Platforms

In the digital age, finding auditions and casting calls for kids can happen with a few clicks of a button. Online casting platforms have streamlined the process, providing a myriad of opportunities right at your fingertips. These websites are a goldmine for finding roles that match your child’s age, skill set and interests.

The key to this is crafting a compelling acting profile for your child. This is more than just a resume; it’s a dynamic showcase of your child’s capabilities. Include a wide selection of professional headshots capturing different moods and looks, footage from previous performances, a list of their skills and a well-written bio. This virtual showcase should capture the essence of your child’s personality and talent.

Pro Tip: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be a major advantage on some of these casting platforms. An SEO-optimized profile that uses common terms and phrases that casting teams search for can help you stand out from thousands of other profiles. Take advantage of description fields and use every bit of the word count to optimize your child’s profile with relevant, high-value information.

Networking and Building Relationships

While the internet is a valuable tool, don’t underestimate the power of personal connections in the acting industry. Building a network is an ongoing process and an investment that often bears fruit in the form of unadvertised opportunities and valuable advice.

Encourage your child to attend industry events and workshops. These spaces are buzzing with people who share the same dreams, challenges and passions. They provide exposure to the industry, offer learning opportunities and help your child develop social skills that are vital in this field.

Make an effort to engage with casting directors and industry professionals. Understand their work, show appreciation and subtly highlight your child’s talent and achievements. Remember, your child’s talent is the sun, and you are the mirror reflecting its brilliance in the right direction.

Finding auditions and casting calls is a blend of technology and relationships. A proactive approach, an eye for opportunities and persistence are the keys to opening the doors of the acting world for your child.

Pro Tip: Don’t sleep on connecting with industry professionals on LinkedIn. Taking the time to connect and engage with their posts and build relationships will yield a lot of results. Casting directors and productions will often reach out to their inner circle to fill opportunities before going public. LinkedIn is an easy way to get on the inside.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, here are the key takeaways for supporting your child’s acting ambitions:

  • Encourage your child’s passion and provide opportunities for artistic expression.
  • Enroll them in reputable acting schools to develop essential skills.
  • Build a supportive network by connecting with other parents and joining local acting communities.
  • Prioritize your child’s emotional well-being and foster open communication.
  • Balance school and acting commitments.
  • Learn about child labor laws and potential industry pitfalls.
  • Budget for acting expenses and understand contracts and payment structures.
  • Utilize online platforms like Casting Frontier to find auditions and casting calls.
  • Create a compelling online actor profile for your child and build relationships in the industry.

As parents, you play a critical role in shaping your child’s acting journey. It’s time to take proactive steps toward creating an environment that fosters their dreams while ensuring their holistic development.

As you can see, the world of acting is ever-evolving and the ability to learn, adapt and evolve is crucial. Your child’s journey in acting is not just about the destination of fame, but the rich experiences, life skills and memories they make along the way. Stay curious, stay resilient and relish this extraordinary adventure.

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Written by David Fang