I’ve been working with young actors for many years, first as a talent representative and today as an acting teacher and coach. When I ask them what they want to achieve in this business, the responses vary: to be on Broadway, to be famous, to make people laugh, to be on a television series.
Years ago when I first started representing actors, television was not a popular option. “Real” actors starred in films or were on Broadway. There was a worry that if you landed a role on television, you might get stuck there. But today, television is well respected and full of great opportunities. In addition to the networks, there are series on Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu, with many more cable and independent producers arriving on the horizon. Today’s television is outstanding! Just look at your social media feed. We are all tweeting or posting about the fabulous new series we just binge watched or trying to find the time to watch all of the others we just heard about it. Shows like “Stranger Things” have catapulted young careers to stardom. Landing a TV series today is a dream job for an actor because it provides a steady paycheck, an opportunity to work consistently doing what you love, and a chance at fame.
Let me share this story to inspire you. About four years ago I met a young actress who had done school plays and community theatre. Her dream, like many young actors, was to appear on Broadway or star in a television show. Her mom recognized her talent and drive but didn’t know how to begin. She began shopping for an agent or manager to help her daughter get started. The first rep she approached acknowledged her passion but also spotted the girl’s lack of training. She gently told her she needed to take some acting classes and get experience. The young girl did not live in a big city but she found alternative ways to train and be mentored. Today, this teen actress is starring on a Nickelodeon series. This is how she did it:
My client learned early on that she needed training and experience before she could get signed by an agent or manager. Looking for representation too soon can be a mistake. If you’re not sure your child has the skill or readiness, seek out an industry professional to give you an honest assessment. Once your child is trained and ready, there will be plenty of reps eager to take them on.
You can live outside a big city and still get amazing acting training. Many acting teachers and coaches (myself included) offer ongoing group classes, one-day workshops, and private one on one lessons, both in person and via Skype. Find a teacher or coach with a good reputation and experience working with young actors and get ongoing, consistent training.
Landing a role on TV may seem akin to finding a needle in a haystack, but it is possible. Stay positive and happy while enjoying other things in your life such as good friends, hobbies, and opportunities that enrich your life and give you purpose. My client is a well balanced young lady with other interests in her life. Let go of desperation and replace it with humility and graciousness.
4. A supportive family
The most important thing a young performer needs is a parent who believes in and is willing to support them. That parental support helps actors believe in themselves and develop the confidence necessary to show up and say, “I got this” with quiet confidence.
Don’t give up before the miracle happens. My client and her mom did whatever they could to support her dream. She worked with me every week on SKYPE. She traveled to New York on school holidays and during the summer to work intensively in classes and productions. After all that training and experience, she started shopping for representation. Although there were many no’s, she persisted until she found a local agent in her home state who believed in her. That agency pitched her to Nickelodeon and all of her dreams came true.
Denise Simon is a New York-based acting coach. Backstage Expert, and author of “Parenting in the Spotlight: How to raise a child star without screwing them up.” For more information, check out Simon’s full bio! Master your craft, empower yourself, enjoy the journey.