16 (More) Terms for Parents of Child Actors

Last month, I offered up some useful terminology as it relates to auditions and scripts for child actors. Here, I address some of the daunting terms related to contracts, finances, and union matters. Hopefully, it will help you feel more confident when you’re meeting with an industry professional, in an audition with your child, or on a theater, film, or television set.

Commissions: Percentage of a performer’s earnings which are paid to an agent or manager for their services.

Coogan account: Named after child actor Jackie Coogan, this is a blocked minor trust account required by law for all performers under the age of eighteen in the states of California, New York, Louisiana, and New Mexico, designed to safeguard 15% of their gross earnings per project for when they enter adulthood.

Emancipated Minor: When a child under the age of 18 has been given the legal status of an adult by a judge.

Equity: Actors Equity Association (AEA) is the union governing live theatrical productions.

First Refusal: A non-contractual courtesy situation requesting that a performer notifies the casting director before accepting a booking for another job on the same day.

Hold (On Hold): A contractual obligation for a performer to be available for work.

READ: How Child Actors Can Get Work in Atlanta & Florida

Local hire: An actor hired locally for a production, which eliminates costs for travel, housing, and per diem.

Must Join: If it has been 30 days since your first SAG/AFTRA booking, you MUST join the union before your next union job.

Principal: A performer with lines or with significant importance to the story line. 

Residual: The fee paid to a performer for subsequent showings of a commercial, film, or TV program.

Right-to-work states: Those states that do not have an agreement between unions and performers meaning you don’t have to join the union to get a job.

SAG/AFTRA: Screen Actors Guild/Actors Federation of Television and Radio Artist, the union governing television, radio, and film productions.

Scale: The minimum payment for services under union contracts.

Scale + 10: Minimum payment plus an extra 10% to cover the agent’s commission.

READ: Should You Manage Your Child's Career?

Series regular: An actor in a role in a TV series appearing in most if not all of the episodes.

Taft-Hartley: A federal statute which allows a 30-day grace period after an actor’s first day of employment before being required to join the Union.

U-5 (or Under 5): A role with “under five lines.”

Work permit: Issued by a state or local agency, a required legal document allowing a minor child under the age of eighteen to work on creative or artistic projects.

Now you have a general overview of the key terms you’ll hear regularly in legal and contractual discussions. However, if you don’t understand something, be sure to ask for clarification. It’s important that you’re clear on things so you can be the best support you can be for your child actor.