How To Determine if Show Business Is Right for Your Child?
Q: How can I decide if show business is the right choice fir for my child?
A: Here are some questions that might help you determine if show business might be a good choice for your child.
- Does your child express a strong desire to perform?
- Does he/she talk about it all the time?
- Do you think your child has the “right look?”
- Is your child personable and outgoing?
- Is your child funny?
My child wants to continue a career in entertainment in college. What are our options?
Q: My child wants to continue a career in entertainment in college. What are our options?
A: First decide if you want to major in theatre or musical theatre. Do you want a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) or a BA? Do you want a school close to home, making it easier to audition while in school, especially if you live close to New York City or Los Angeles? After you make these decisions, you are ready to explore! Here are some great schools to look into:
GREAT THEATRICAL/MUSIC PROGRAMS:
- Tisch School of the Arts at NYU
- Marymount Manhattan College
- Rutgers, The State University of NJ
- Ithaca College
- Emerson College
- Syracuse University
- North Carolina School for the Arts
- University of Michigan
- Muhlenberg College
- Brooklyn College
If you have the opportunity to audition at these schools, Congratulations! Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Find out the school’s auditioning requirements.
- Choose age-appropriate material.
- Choose a character to which your child can relate.
- DON’T disrobe!
- Know how many songs you need to prepare.
- Know whether you need a classical piece. (Know what is considered “classical.”)
- Know how many minutes each piece has to be.
- Work with someone on your pieces for practice.
- Be prepared!
What’s the difference between an agent and a manager?
Q: What’s the difference between an agent and a manager?
A: Here’s the basic breakdown:
- Helps to cultivate a career. Does not just book a job.
- Generally has fewer clients than an agent.
- Gives more individual attention.
- While working with a manager, you can freelance with several agents, thereby having access to more auditions.
- Managers generally take a 15% commission off the top.
- Agents are state licensed employment agencies.
- By law, agents cannot take more than a 10% commission. If you only have an agent, you only pay this one commission.
- Can have a small or large number of clients.
How do I choose an agent or a manager?
Q: How do I choose an agent or a manager?
A: I tell clients it is like picking a pediatrician!
- Send the potential agent or manager a well-lit, casually dressed head and shoulders shot.
- Send a cover letter detailing your child’s talents, skills, acting experience, and training.
- Make sure the personality of the representative will result in a positive effort for your child, including an ongoing relationship.
- Find someone who is excited about your child.
- Assess how well the representative communicates with you and your family.
How do I write a resume?
Q: How do I write a resume? Print E-mail
A: Here are some tips to help you write a resume that will get your foot in the door.
- Keep it neat and in columns.
- Don’t mention your child’s age.
- Do NOT include your home phone if you are not familiar with the company. Provide a cell number instead.
How do I write a cover letter?
Q: How do I write a cover letter?
A: Keep it short and sweet!
Here is an example:
Dear Mr. X,
My son, Brandon is 11 years old and loves acting, singing and dancing. He has appeared in numerous local productions, and we believe he is now ready for more professional work.
We live outside of New York City and are willing to travel in for auditions.
We would love an opportunity to meet with you at your convenience.
Please feel free to contact me by email at sallysimon.org or phone me at 345-555-5555.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sandra Dee (mother of Brandon)
How do I choose a song for my child’s musical audition?
Q: How do I choose a song for my child’s musical audition? Print E-mail
A: Follow these simple rules, and you’ll do beautifully:
- Listen to recordings of shows featuring children to assess which songs may be right for your child.
- Choose a song that is age appropriate.
- Be certain your child can relate to the song.
- Have the song prepared in your child’s key. (You shouldn’t expect that the accompanist will transpose on site.)
I am trying to find an acting teacher for my child. How do I know who will be right?
Q: I am trying to find an acting teacher for my child. How do I know who will be right?
A: Here is what you should do:
- Audit several teachers’ classes, if possible, to get a feel for them and their individual styles.
- Assess how they speak to children. Are they funny and lively? Does the personality of any one teacher stand out as a good match for your child?
- What are their credentials? Where have they studied and trained?
- Have they done much work with children? (An acting teacher can be a great teacher, but may not speak the language of children.)
- When you have found the perfect teacher, and your child begins to work on a regular basis, you should take a look at the AFTRA-SAG Young Performers’ Handbook.
There are so many photographers out there. Which one will portray my child best?
Q: There are so many photographers out there. Which one will portray my child best?
B It’s all in the research, really. Do keep in mind that initially, parents need not spend any money on headshots for their children. A good candid shot of your child will be sufficient for an initial interview; however, if you want to go with a photographer, here are some pointers and some photographer recommendations:
- Find out if the photographer has worked with children.
- Look at his or her book before making the decision to hire.
- Make sure the work environment is compatible with what you want. For instance, does the photographer work in the studio or in natural light?
- Get prices. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. About $300 for a sitting is reasonable, especially since children grow quickly and these shots must be re-done again and again.
What scene and monologue books can you recommend?
Q: Can you recommend any scene and monologue books for my child? Print E-mail
A: Of course! Here’s a great list:
- Parenting in the Spotlight by Denise Simon
- Great Scenes and Monologues for Children Ages 7-14; edited by Craig Slaight and Jack Sharrar
- Great Monologues for Young Actors; edited by Craig Slaight & Jack Sharrar
- Great Scenes for Young Actors from the Stage; edited by Craig Slaight & Jack Sharrar
- Childsplay; edited by Kerry Muir
- Monologues for Young Actors; by Lorraine Cohen
- Scenes for Young Actors; Edited by Lorraine Cohen
- Monologues for Young Actors; edited by Robert Emerson & Jane Grumbach
- The Young Actors Workbook; by Judith Roberts Seto
- Scenes That Happen and More Scenes That Happen; by Mary Krell-Oishi
I’d also like to recommend some other books that have been very effective for my students:
- Audition ; by Michael Shurtleff
- Meisner On Acting ; by Sanfore Meisner
What is the proper etiquette when it comes to auditioning and working?
Q: What is the proper etiquette when it comes to auditioning and working? What do my child and I need to be mindful of? Print E-mail
A: Here’s a great list of points to remember that will keep you prepared and looking professional:
- Ask your agent what clothing is appropriate.
- Don’t forget pictures, your resumé, and anything else you’ve been asked to bring.
- Check in with whomever you need to.
- Be mindful of other actors preparing for their auditions, but don’t socialize with them. Concentrate on you! (Without being rude of course.)
- For callbacks, don’t change your child’s clothes/appearance. Why tamper with what worked?
ON THE JOB
- Know the rules and regulations regarding the employment of minors. You’re responsible for your child’s safety and welfare!
- Bring your child’s social security card, work permit, and identification number as well as any other required information or documentation.
- Sign the contract before your child begins work. Speak to your agent if you have any questions/concerns about it.
- Bring at least three hours of schoolwork if your child is being tutored on set.
- Be professional and courteous.
- If there is informational material available ahead of time, get it and be VERY familiar with it!
- Know exactly where you have to be well before the appointment date. It never hurts to check it out beforehand, including parking options, etc.
- Arrive at least 30 minutes early! You’ll be surprised to realize how much more relaxed you and your child will feel when you’re not rushing.
- Only you and your child should attend the audition. Don’t bring other children, relatives, pets, etc.
- Never leave your child unattended, but don’t get in the way of the set and its workers.
- Speak up if you are concerned about anything. You can always speak to an agent or the union under whose jurisdiction you’re working.
What advice to parents and kids in show business have to offer?
Q: Do parents and children in the business have any advice for us?
The following is advice from Yvette and Taylor Bright. Taylor has performed in both community theatre and regional theatre. She worked productions such as That’s Andy! and the Annie national tour. She has also done commercial and print work.
Advice for Parents, by Yvette
- Be flexible, the schedule is demanding.
- The experience is the child’s experience, not the parent’s.
- Don’t be afraid to take time away from the group when it’s needed.
- Have an open mind about schooling; don’t expect that the experience will be the same as at home. Remember: “not the same” doesn’t mean not as rewarding; in fact, it’s more rewarding.
- If you are touring, sign up for all the airline and hotel reward points.
- Keep open communication with company management and the education provider.
- Visit as many sites as you can in the various cities.
- Respect the adult actors’ time and privacy.
- Be professional; it’s a business.
- Have fun!
Advice for Kids, by Taylor
- Have fun and enjoy every performance.
- Learn as much as possible from the professionals you work with.
- Get your rest, and drink plenty of water!
- Be respectful and do what you are asked to do to make the child wrangler’s job easy.
- Remember you are there to do a job.
- Share the experience with your friends and family.
- Visit as many places as you can.
- Be thankful for the opportunity.
- Use your down time to keep up with schoolwork.
- Laugh, Laugh, Laugh.