How to Transition from Child Parts to Teen Roles


Your cute curls are now a ball of frizz. 
Your milky white skin has turned into a face map of Switzerland. Metal cages glisten as you smile, and your voice sounds like your father’s. Welcome to teenage bliss! Although you may feel like your career is in shambles because you are not getting as many auditions as you had when you were younger, take a breath. Believe it or not, the journey ahead is neither bad nor good; it’s just different—and that can be exciting.

Take Classes to Learn Technique
As you become a more mature actor you will be required to master skills that are beyond your natural ability. Enroll in an ongoing acting class. Whereas I worry about the over-coached child actor, teen actors need training, especially in technique. Sanford Meisner says, “Acting is living truthfully in the moment under imaginary circumstances.” It sounds easy, but it takes practice. Work regularly with a teacher and group that you trust.

Expand Your Range of Skills
Train in new areas, and get out of your comfort zone. If you are an actor who naturally moves well, up the ante. Try out a new style of dance to become more competitive. Now that your voice is settling in, take lessons regularly. Now that you’re coming into your own voice, learn new ones. Read my article on dialects.

Stay Busy
If you aren’t getting professional roles because you’re in the throes of adolescence, don’t stop acting. Find opportunities that challenge your range. Audition for a local theater production, or try out for your school play. Playing different roles whether you are paid or not is another important way to expand your skill set. And don’t forget: Go to the theater and watch classic films; if you want to be a good actor, watch good acting.

Get Comfortable in Your Own Skin
Listen, I know it’s an awkward time in your life. You’re becoming a young man or woman. As a child, you are primarily typecast as a juvenile. To cross over into a successful young adult actor, you need to come to terms with your body and be aware of the image you project. Staying physically active, practicing personal hygiene, and finding a good mental balance are all part of learning to love yourself. Believe me, it shows up in your audition and under the lights.

Take Responsibility For Your Career
Soon you’ll be driving. It can be liberating to feel the independence of learning to steer your career. You’re old enough to communicate with your rep directly. Don’t let your parents do all the talking. Read Backstage regularly for auditions and tips for furthering your career. Make good choices. Surround yourself with friends and family who support you in a positive way.

You’re growing up, and that’s your new role. You may want to put your tutu in a box for safekeeping, but you’re not abandoning childhood; you’re embracing young adulthood. Yes, it will be challenging, uncertain, and even a little frightening. However, it can be the most exciting time in your life if you let it.