4 Ways to Get Your Child’s Demo Reel Seen

Imagine this scene: You close out of iMovie and back away from the computer having just finished editing clips for your child’s demo reel. It’s terrific, and you marvel at how well your child’s personality and talent shine. There’s only one problem: how do you get the reel seen by anyone? It can’t get your child work if no one sees it. 

So, what can you do? Here are four ways to get your child’s reel seen. 

College theater majors: To BFA or not to BFA, that is the question

College theater majors: To BFA or not to BFA, that is the question

High school sophomores and juniors start your engines. It is time to begin considering colleges for next year's college application process. With many of you planning to visit schools during spring break, I thought it would be both helpful and fun to guide you towards the right performing arts degree with a little self-assessment quiz. Scoring is below. In the coming months, Denise will explore questions about college admissions in a series of free upcoming teleseminars with theater professionals from several well regarded programs throughout the country.

8 Ways to Prepare Your Child Actor for the School Year

8 Ways to Prepare Your Child Actor for the School Year

January may be the start of the calendar year, but September is the real new year for children and teens. As your child heads back to school, they should also prepare for the new opportunities that await them in television, theater, and film. Proper planning sets a good precedent and keeps your child grounded. 

To have a successful year, and stay sane, use these planning tips in September.

How to Help Your Child Actor Maintain Normalcy

How to Help Your Child Actor Maintain Normalcy

Many children I’ve worked with have expressed a need to act. It wasn’t just that acting was a hobby they enjoyed, but that they derived more happiness from acting than any other activity on the planet. If you have a child like that, you might worry that participating in the entertainment business will harm them and they won’t be able to live any type of normal life. There are downsides to fame after all. However, my 30 years in this industry have taught me that children who pursue their acting dreams actually reap great benefits from their experiences and they can navigate any downsides and achieve normalcy with your help.

Here are four concerns you might have about the industry and how you can help your child with them as they pursue their acting career.

7 Audition Mistakes Young Actors Can Avoid

For more than 30 years, I’ve worked with young actors and found that many of them fall victim to the same simple mistakes. Talented children are regularly passed over in auditions because of bad habits that parents sometimes don’t even notice. If you’re on the lookout for these common mistakes and can fix them, you might find your child getting more attention in the audition room. Here are seven mistakes you can help your kid avoid.

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy Your Child Stardom

With the recent media expose about wealthy parents who allegedly bribed and lied to purchase college admission for their children, my students and I have had many discussions about fairness, responsibility, and accountability. My students were angry. Kids are refreshingly honest and forthright. They know the difference between earning something and getting it in an underhanded way. They said “I work my butt off to get into a good school. I don’t want someone to get my spot just because their parents have more money than mine do.”

Young Actors Should Be Their Own Entrepreneurs + How to Do It

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Your dreams of becoming a working actor and thrilling people with your performance drive you forward. Acting is a creative art but they call it “show business” because it is a business, so consider yourself the CEO of your career, be your best advocate, and stay invested.  

You spend a lot of time taking classes, being available for last-minute auditions, and making choice about your activities. There are also legal, financial, educational, and organizational things you can learn over time as you gradually take more responsibility for your career, schedule, and even finances. 

As a young actor, it’s likely you’re surrounded by a team of parents, coaches, managers, and agents. All of these adults are invested in your career, but none have the same level of investment as you. To make sure you’re taking full entrepreneurial control of your own career, follow these tips. 

Take charge.
Start by writing down your goals and what you want to achieve in this business. Stop relying on your parents to do it all. Young actors who understand the decision making, diligence, and sacrifice necessary to pursue an acting career gain more confidence. 

Call your agent or manager yourself and ask what auditions might be coming up for you. Maybe it’s been slow or you want to pow-wow about what you can be doing to get things going. You will feel more in control, focused, and determined by understanding expectations and taking responsibility yourself. 

READ: How to Manage Your Child Actor

Have an acting allowance.  
Budgeting, goal setting, and understanding financial obligations are essential life skills. Ask your parent to help you learn about taxes, deductions, and bookkeeping. Make a plan and create a list of all the equipment and supplies you will need to be successful, then discuss a monthly allowance for pictures, classes, demo reels, new dance shoes, self-taping equipment, audition attire, theater tickets, etc. 

Get organized.   
Casting directors look for young actors who are focused and disciplined. Keep a list of everyone you’ve met, follow up with thank you notes after a great audition or a meeting with a potential rep. Stay in touch with fellow actors—You never know when they might recommend you to their agent. Do your research on auditions and opportunities. Put your smartphone to good use and log mileage, receipts, and appointments. Upload sides, keep an audition log and create an online acting notebook. 

When you take steps toward making career decisions and learning about business expectations and responsibilities, you’ll start to feel in control of your future in an industry that doesn’t offer many opportunities to feel in control. You can’t control decisions made by casting directors, your body type, or even your vocal quality but you can manage your schedule, which auditions you pursue, and some of the required paperwork and record keeping.  

You may decide later that show business is not for you but the entrepreneurial skills you glean will be valuable in whatever career you select later in life.

8 Ways Acting Can Help You Excel in School

Last month, I wrote about how parents disempower their children by doing work for them whether it’s writing college essays, completing homework, or using personal contacts to secure roles. It inspired a discussion between me and my students, who spoke about how what they learned pursuing an acting career has helped them in life—especially in school. Here’s how acting can help students excel: 

1. You learn how to listen.
Acting requires listening. Not just scrunching up your face to look like you’re listening, but actually listening to your partner. Becoming a good listener helps you retain information, which will help with tests and other assignments. Being a good listener can also improve friendships, making school life more enjoyable. 

2. You learn to speak with confidence.
Students are regularly required to give oral reports, class presentations, and participate in high school and college interviews. Memorizing lines and being able to connect to a person or an audience is just the practice needed for excellent public speaking skills. Acting will give you the confidence required to do presentations without fear.

3. You learn to set and reach goals.
Being an actor demands a lot. You have to learn to juggle homework and school obligations while memorizing lines and doing work for acting and voice classes, all while still making time for friends and family. This balancing act requires planning, time management skills, and accountability. Working long hours on set or in rehearsal also requires discipline. All these skills are essential to success in the classroom as you have to manage assignments and make sure you complete them on time.

4. You learn to manage stress.
Working in theater or film requires travel, long hours, and managing school, home life, and the emotional letdown after a show closes. Learning how to deal with all of this stress sets you up for the challenges of day-to-day life. When you practice leaving your nerves and anxiety outside the door, letting go of control, and relaxation techniques in acting class, you’re gathering valuable tools for managing any type of stress.

READ: How to Manage Your Child Actor

5. You learn to think on your feet.
Improvisation training is part of an actor’s life. It provides a competitive edge that leads to success inside and outside of the classroom. It improves listening, working spontaneously, conquering fears, and working collaboratively. Improv helps you get out of your head and engage without second-guessing, making you a more confident student and person. 

6. You learn to cope with rejection and disappointment.
All actors face rejection. Lots of rejection. Over time, you learn resilience, that life is not always fair or easy, and that reaching your goals requires effort and perseverance. This resilience makes it easier to manage traditional school rejection such as not getting a grade you expected, being cut from a team, or turned down for a date. These rejections can be devastating for some kids. However, young actors have already developed the ability to hear a “no” and keep on trying.

7. You learn to focus.
Have you ever fallen asleep while the teacher is speaking? Caffeine may be one way to stay awake, but learning to stay engaged is more effective. The skills you develop while practicing connecting to your acting partners also show you how to pay attention and focus in school. This is just what you need for those long lectures! 

8. You learn to grow more comfortable in your skin.
Acting helps you own your individuality and care less about what others think. You develop confidence and pride in your accomplishments. In acting, you learn to accept who you are and how you fit into the world, as well as the importance of each cast member, the hero, the villain, or the goofy best friend. This awareness helps to develop empathy as you study what it is really like to become another person.

Succeeding in school is challenging. All your experiences, including rehearsing and performing, enrich your academic performance in a variety of ways. Acting is not an academic distraction, but a powerful way to strengthen your chances of academic success while you’re having a great time!