Parents write to me all the time asking advice on how their child can get noticed in the business. One mom writes, “I have sent my child’s photos around and have gotten no response.” Another asks, “How do I get an audition for my child if he has no representation?” Much has been written on this subject, and after many years in the business working with child performers and their families, I am happy to weigh in with my six tips on increasing your child’s chances of getting representation and auditions.
1. A great headshot. This is an actor’s calling card and may be the single most important tool in your young performer’s kit. Unless you or grandma can take a really great snapshot, spend a little money on a professional headshot. Even if a rep has a lot of clients, a great headshot will win attention. Be sure to read my article on how to choose a photographer for some additional tips.
2. Mailings. Send your child’s fabulous photo to agents and managers who represent children and teens. If you subscribe to Backstage, you can access a full list of agents and managers on Backstage.com. Put together a simple resume with pertinent info such as height, weight, and hair/eye color. List any experience, training, and special skills such as a language, instrument or sport your child plays or excels in. For an example of a good resume format, visit my website. Don’t forget to attach a short, simple cover letter with your contact information asking for an opportunity to set up a meeting.
3. Demo reel. Did you remember to get a copy of the commercial your child shot? How about the film footage the student director promised you? Now is a good time to put a short (2-3 minute) reel together. There are professional companies that specialize in this, or you can save a few bucks by asking a savvy teenager. Since he probably gets a lot of practice making and uploading YouTube videos, you may be pleasantly surprised at the results. A demo reel is a great way for a potential rep to see what your child looks like on film.
4. Hire a coach or consultant. You think your child has talent but don’t know what to do next. How do you know if you are targeting the best manager or agent for your child? Hiring a professional industry coach or consultant to assess your child’s talent and readiness can offer a lot of advantages. A good coach or consultant has spent years in the business and knows exactly what industry reps are looking for. He or she can point you in the right direction and may really help open doors for you.
5. Workshops. Casting directors, agents, and managers are always teaching and attending workshops. Not only will your young performer benefit from the teaching, but he also will have the opportunity to be seen where he can show off his talent and personality.
6. Networking. My best business connections have come from people I talk to. Be sure to connect with other actors and parents of kids in the biz. Most folks are happy to share their contacts with you. Consider getting involved with networking groups like STAR Parent Network. They share audition notices and information, organize workshops, pursue opportunities for education and performing for all ages and abilities and it is completely free to join.
Following these six steps can really give your child a boost when it comes to getting attention in this business. Even if you have already done some of these things, go back over them from time to time, refresh and update things as needed, and keep putting the effort in.
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.