How cool would it be to have your child in movies or TV shows, or on covers of magazines? Or to see your child all over the walls of the Gap? So cool. But there are some key conversations that you should have with your family before you embark on a career for your child in entertainment.
Here are questions to ask you, yourself, your family, and your children before you start a career for your young actor.
1. What sacrifices are you willing to make?
When it comes to auditions, when it comes to bookings, when it comes to self-tapes -- what are you okay sacrificing and what is a hard “no” for you? Specifically, you need to talk about evenings, sports, holidays, and vacations. There will be times where an audition or a booking might come up during a holiday, family vacation, or during the tournament of another sibling. Which sacrifices are you okay with and which sacrifices are you not okay with?
2. What are your financial boundaries?
Starting a career in the entertainment field is super expensive and you should be aware of how much money you're expected to shell out. I talked about the expenses of starting an acting career in an earlier video. Please go watch that video and then sit down with your partner, or whoever else you have as a support system, and talk about how much money you are willing to invest. When you talk about that number, make sure it doesn't include anything that you can't get back. When you're investing in your child, you want to make sure that if nothing comes from this, you and your household will still be financially okay. You don't want to experience any resentment or anger around any lost investments.
3. Are you okay if they quit?
If your young actor wakes up tomorrow and says, "You know what, I don't wanna do this anymore. It's stressful." Are you going to be okay with that? Even more importantly, are you going to be okay if they lose interest or grow out of it? This is a really important question to ask because actors wave in and out of interest in their career. There’s a lot of rejection to deal with. It's also a lot of pressure if you are booking continuously, and sometimes that can outweigh how much fun they’re having or how amazing it feels to follow one’s dreams. Most actors who step away from acting usually step back, but I want to make sure that you are okay if your student decides to stop. If the answer's no, then you should reconsider.
4. How will you split the responsibilities?
If you are lucky enough to have a two parent household, you need to figure out how you're going to split the responsibilities of this new job. Because it is a job. Which parent is more focused on the home? Who is going to make sure that the other kids are taken care of and everything is going well? Who is going to be responsible for leaving work early and making sure that you're child gets to their audition? Who is going to take off work to go to the bookings? Are you going to switch back and forth? How do you decide whose turn it is? Is it based on the day? Is it based on who took them to the audition that led to this particular role? These are questions and conversations that you need to ask and talk about.
5. How often will you have a family meeting?
I know this one may sound silly, but I'm being so serious. Auditions and bookings can become very stressful. Not only that, there's a lot of information that needs to be passed from one parent to the other. There are also a lot of conversations that need to be had with the young actor. How often are you going to sit down and check-in? Make sure you are checking-in on everyone, including the siblings that are not in the industry.
6. What are your plan Bs?
Here’s a scenario: You’re on your way to a family dinner and you get an email for a self-tape (actors are often given as little as 24-hours notice for auditions). You already know that you're not going to get home until about 11:00 p.m. and it's going to be too late to film that self-tape. What is your plan B in those scenarios? Have you decided that early morning auditions are better, so you have your young performer go to sleep as soon as you get home and you wake them up at 5:00 a.m. to film? Is your student aware of this plan B and are they willing to cooperate in these situations?
7. When do you book out?
What does that mean? Booking out means that you decide not to take any auditions during a specific day or week. In other words, you are out of the game for that time period. When would you want to book out? Book out any family vacations and holidays as far in advance as possible. I'm the silly person who's in Puerto Rico still filming self-tapes, and if you want that to be you, that's great. Regardless, if you are traveling, you should definitely book out for any in-person auditions. You can let them know “We're booking out, but we're still available for self-tapes.” It's up to you. If you know that Christmas or Hanukkah is very important to you,, make sure to agree on and draw your boundaries. You need to have that conversation because it will happen right in the middle of your family vacation. Another good time to book out is during regionals or during a big test period at your child’s school. You want to make sure that your kid is in the right mental space when auditioning. You want to make sure that if they get a three-page script, they can really sit down and use their time to memorize it. If you have tons of tests and lots of homework, that might not be the best time to be auditioning. Know yourself and your young performer well enough to just say “We're not auditioning for three weeks because I really need to make sure you're prepared in school.” And to be honest, nothing is more important than school.
8. What scenes are you comfortable with/not comfortable with?
Your child may audition for scenes that involve content you haven’t even talked about with your child yet. Make sure that you're clear on what you're okay with them doing and what you’re not okay with them doing. For example, I had a young man who was auditioning for a part and the script had a ton of curse words. In this industry, there are a lot of adult topics that children will audition for and book. You need to have a conversation about the topics that are off limits and the topics your young performer is mature enough to handle.
9. Will you be alright if you still haven’t made any money in three years?
It takes years to perfect your talent. It takes years to really hone your skills and be good at auditioning. Make sure that you will be okay investing all of this time, all of this energy in your young performer, if in three years nothing has come out of it. Of course, it’s not true that “nothing will have come out of it.” They would have had amazing experiences and met new people. And, acting teaches you so many skills, so they’ll have learned a lot. Make sure to check-in with yourself and confirm that you’re letting your child start their acting career for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.
I know that was a lot and I know that you have a lot to think about now, so I put together a PDF. I just want to thank you for being open to having this conversation. Make sure you sit down with your family because the families that ask these questions sooner rather than later end up in a much better place.
That’s all I have for you today. As always, wishing you love, light, and all that jazz.