Summer has flown by and it’s already time to take your kids shopping for school supplies and new clothes. During the upcoming season, the following Child Actor’s Checklist will help you and your young performer stay organized and prepared for success:

  1. Fresh Headshots. If your little one leaves for camp a child but returns as a budding teen, it’s time for new photos. As an adult, photos can last up to several years but for a child they need to be updated often. Remember, headshots are what can get an actor in the door. If your child is growing rapidly, find a photographer you like and see if you can work out a discounted package deal. Tip: Don’t cut your child’s hair the week of a photo shoot. Give the new style time to settle first.
  2. Updated Résumés. Trevor learned how to water ski this summer and has become quite good. Angela spent her vacation in London and does a really good British accent. If your child excels at a new skill or two, add them to the résumé. Make sure your cell phone and email address are updated and easy to read. And in case you didn’t realize: Do not include addresses or ages. We live in a crazy world, unfortunately, so be cautious.
  3. Valid Work Permits. Your child must have an updated, valid permit in order to work. All performers under the age of 18, or those who have not yet graduated from high school, are required by law to obtain a free Child Performer Permit from their school. If you choose to homeschool your child, it is your job to obtain that work permit by showing the state that your child is receiving a proper education as defined by the local school district. If you live in New York you can apply here. For any other state, contact your state’s department of labor. Keep the work permit handy while your child is on the job.
  4. Passports and Social Security Cards. You will need your child’s passport and social security card handy once he lands a job. They are required by the federal government as proof of U.S. citizenship for employment. If your child does not have these forms of identification, refer to the I-9 form online or at the US Department of Labor for other acceptable options.
  5. Trust Accounts. According to the NY State Department of Labor, New York State Law requires 15 percent of a child performer’s earnings to be placed in a Child Performer Trust account established by a parent or guardian. Not complying would lead to the Department of Labor not renewing a work permit. If you live in a state other than New York, check with your state’s department of labor.
  6. Current Demo Reels. In our fast-paced digital world, demo reels are essential and they need to be good. A bad reel is worse than no reel at all! Use professional footage if you can. Keep it between 60 and 90 seconds. Label each clip with the name of the production. Remember to include your child’s name and contact info, of course. If you have no professional footage, your young performer can find good material and put together something of her own with the help of other good actors. You and/or your child can even write something relevant to her—but make sure you have good sound, lighting, and picture quality. Spend a few bucks on getting her coached properly!
  7. Versatile Audition Attire. Find shirts in colors that work well for your child and buy a few of them to have on hand. Buy a solid colored skirt for girls to use in period pieces. Make sure they have shoes that fit well. Tip: Keep a clean change of clothes in the car or bag for unexpected spills or last minute auditions.
  8. Enroll in an acting class. Before your child’s schedule fills up, make room for acting classes. Remember, the acting is key to success. Even when singing or dancing, your child needs to know how to convey the story at the same time. My classes are very small to promote individual attention and therefore fill up quickly. Right now is the time to enroll to ensure a spot in a good class and set your child up for success in what they love most!

Master your craft, empower yourself, enjoy the journey.

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