Venturing out into something new can come with a lot of uncertainty and fearing the unknown can hold you back from a lot of fun and rewarding experiences. The entertainment industry is notorious for how competitive it can be. However, it can also be one of the most innovative and exciting industries to work in. If you are thinking of getting your child involved, you can make your start easier by managing your expectations and understanding what’s involved. Whilst it is hard to cover everything, we want to touch on some key points we think should be front of mind so there are no big surprises!
Don’t believe everything you read or hear
There is a lot of false information published online or that you may hear through word of mouth. Think about where you are reading or hearing information from before making your mind up. For example, there are a lot of opinion pieces or posts online that are not based on any facts and are purely on individual experiences. No two industry experiences will be the same so it is important to consider factors such as where you live, who you are represented by, and the clients you work with. You may also speak to an angry parent who may have had unrealistic expectations or no knowledge of how the industry works. Getting lots of information before joining by speaking to a professional is important so everyone knows exactly what they’re in for and no one feels misled.
Common industry misconceptions when it comes to kids
- Kids are expected to wear makeup – this is not true. Kids are always encouraged to look natural for photoshoots, castings, auditions, etc. Firstly, the client needs to see what they have to work with and secondly, they want kids to be kids and to look their age.
- Kids need acting/modelling experience to get work – many agents and clients do not rely on experience to take on kids. Work experience never goes astray, but they care more about personality, behaviour, special talents, and whether the child will be able to cope in new settings and with new people.
- The same kids always get chosen – some kids may seem to get more work but that is not always because they are being chosen over others. They may have better flexibility to attend more shoots, they may be needed for continuity, or perhaps some clients like to work with kids they know have been great in the past. Remember, kids grow and change so different opportunities will come and go.
- Looks are everything – absolutely not the case. As mentioned earlier, clients are far more interested in personality and how talented kids are rather than basing everything on how they look. Of course, certain roles have specific requirements which means they are looking for kids in a certain age group, a certain size, and certain features, or traits.
Dealing with rejection and not taking it personally
Rejection does NOT mean your kids are not talented or cute enough. It simply means they were not right for a particular role. Clients and brands value confidence, diversity, and variety – they don’t favour a specific look. Casting departments need to submit according to a brief they are provided with. It may have specific requirements where they need a 12-year-old boy with blonde hair and a ‘surfer look’ or it may be left open to all kids. This gives more children the chance to be seen – even if they are not chosen for the role. Exposure is always a positive thing.
Make sure this is your child’s dream too – not just yours!
In our industry, we have a lot of ‘stage parents.’ If you are pushing your children to get involved in this industry, whether it is acting, singing, dancing, or modelling even if they have no interest or expressed they want to get involved, then you likely fall into this category. Consider if your child will be able to cope or if they are suitable for the industry and vice versa. Think about whether this is right for your whole family. Just because it may be what you want for your child, doesn’t mean it’s right for them. No matter how young they may be, ask them what they love doing. Clients do not want to see children forced into it – they can see when a child is truly passionate and excited to be there. Take the time to make sure this is the right option for your family as being part of this industry can be demanding, fast-paced and competitive.
Flexibility is crucial
The less flexibility you have, the fewer opportunities you will get. Just like anyone else, clients work normal business hours from Monday to Friday which means shoots will almost always be booked during school hours. Your child may need to be pulled out of school to be able to attend a casting or shoot. There are certain laws regarding how much school children can miss for this type of work, aside from each school’s individual regulations. You are responsible for getting your child to all shoots they are booked for on time. Once making a commitment, you should stick to it unless you have a pressing reason for not being able to attend. Pulling out of shoots at the last minute or not showing up is not a good look for you or your agent. This is a huge inconvenience to the client and they may not book your child for future opportunities. If you cannot commit to a shoot or casting date – don’t say yes to it. We understand the nature of this industry can be quite demanding and inconsistent which is why flexibility is a must.