Congratulations! Your child was spotted in a showcase performance by an agent or manager and called into their office for an interview and audition. Or perhaps your youngster’s beautiful photo and resume got the attention of an agent who followed up with a meeting. This is the start of getting signed by a rep who can help your child find auditions and get closer to landing a role.
Every representative has his or her own process for screening talent. Many times, your child will be asked to cold read (meaning it’s something they have not seen before). This could be commercial copy or a short scene from a theater, TV, or film script. Another rep may ask them to prepare a monologue and song if they’re a singer. If that’s the case, these pieces should be ones your child loves and can perform confidently.
While assessing acting and cold reading skills is definitely important, what’s even more important is that the rep learns who your child really is through the interview process. This may be territory that’s completely new to your child, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to gain life skills.
Young actors get a lot of practice working on scripted material, but not as much on just being themselves. I see kids get nervous when they’re not hiding behind a piece of paper and are being asked to just talk about who they really are. So help your young actor get comfortable with this kind of thing by encouraging improvisational training. Thinking on their feet and being spontaneous is great practice for the unknown and offers a competitive edge that reaches far beyond the world of acting.
At home, you can help your young actor get comfortable talking about subjects that are likely to come up in conversation: hobbies, favorite television shows, siblings, pets, school, and friends. Focus less on specific answers and more on their ability to feel comfortable with the topics. One word responses are not interesting. Neither is insincerity and over-coaching. Instead, encourage honesty, eye contact, clarity, and letting their personality and uniqueness shine through. What’s most important is the connection your child makes with the person in the room.
It’s a good idea to practice interview skills with your child so they become comfortable answering in complete sentences, and seeming natural and confident. Prepare your child to do the interview without you present. Most children do their best without their parent in the room so they don’t have to worry about disappointing them.
Another great way to practice interview skills is by letting your child speak to adults in their daily life. The next time you’re at a store, have your child engage with the clerk by asking and answering questions. Or when the waiter arrives at a restaurant, encourage them to order themselves and strike up a conversation. When my son was young, he loved to order himself. He was very specific about how he liked his food prepared and each time we visited a restaurant, he made such an impression with his unique, amusing personality that they never forgot him.
I’m sure you’re just as excited as your child is to be interviewing with the agency or management firm. As with any company you’re about to start a relationship with, research the agency or firm and ask colleagues for any insight. You’ll have many questions, so prepare them ahead of time to feel more self-assured.
After the meeting, be sure to check in with your child on how they felt about the interview. If it didn’t go well, reflect on ways they might improve for the next opportunity. Evaluate how your child felt about the representative they just met with. It’s important that you and your child feel good about this potential relationship that will hopefully be long lasting.
You are your child’s greatest ally and advocate; make sure you’re doing all you can to make this journey fun, safe, and enjoyable for them.