“Help, my son wants to be an actor! Can’t I talk him out of it?” No, and why would you want to? You are so lucky your child has a passion that gets him out of bed each day. So many kids flounder because they haven’t found that “something special” that motivates them. Statistics show that most child actors won’t end up pursuing acting as adults, but there are still countless benefits they can gain as they make the journey.
A parent who recently brought her daughter to me for a consultation was concerned about all the negative effects the business has on a child, with the prospect of having to face rejection at the forefront. Rejection is part of life. Why not look at it as learning life’s lessons early on? Out of her fear and just plain not knowing, this mom was trying to do everything she could to sabotage her daughter’s dreams. I pointed out to her the many positive assets this business has to offer her child – building self esteem and confidence, learning how to speak in public, social interaction, risk-taking, listening skills, independence and responsibility, improved reading skills, and learning to think on your feet. After hearing these things, she left my studio excited to give her child a chance at pursuing her dream.
1. Acting builds self-confidence. I have taught countless shy introverts as well as kids who were afraid to get up in front of others for fear they weren’t pretty enough, talented enough, funny enough, or even smart enough. One of my students, who is now the associate director of graduate studies and lecturer on physics at Harvard University, attributes his teaching success to his acting and improvisational training. Some of my former students have gone on to pursue professional careers as actors while many others are successful in their chosen careers as chefs, journalists, teachers, business execs, theater company producers, casting directors, and many others. The one thing they all have in common is self-confidence.
2. Acting opens doors to other careers in the entertainment industry. Many of my colleagues in casting, management, teaching, producing, and directing were all actors. We all studied theater in the hopes of the big acting career. At some point in my journey – my late twenties to be exact – when I wanted more stability and financial security, I took the leap to the other side of the business. My acting training and love of theater has enabled me to have a happy and thriving career in the entertainment industry. My parents have no more regrets that I was a theater major; it now makes sense.
3. Some children choose acting because they have no other choice. It’s in their DNA. They act because they have to. Nothing else will satisfy them and fill them up the way getting on stage or in front of a camera does. If they have a choice, they will find it. Until then, support them! Don’t stand in your child’s way of self-empowerment, happiness, success, and becoming the best they can be.
I hope this has given you some food for thought if you have a child who longs to pursue acting. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have, so please leave a comment below and let me know your biggest concerns. Or, if you have already gone through this as a parent, I’d love to hear what made you decide to go ahead and support your child as they followed their acting dreams.
Master your craft, empower yourself and enjoy the journey!
Denise Simon is a New York-based acting coach and career consultant who has been involved in the entertainment industry for more than 25 years as an actor, teacher, director, and personal talent manager. For 10 years, she was an associate with Fox Albert Management, one of the leading talent management companies in New York, where she managed such clients as Scarlett Johansson, Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino, Lacey Chabert (“Party of Five”), and Judy Reyes (NBC’s “Scrubs”). Denise has coached hundreds of children and young adults appearing regularly on Broadway and in television and film, as well as educating parents on the business of show business.