Today, I am busy organizing my financial records to prepare for taxes and the upcoming year. As I add up my mileage log and collect my receipts, I can’t help but reflect on the many young actors and parents I advise about the business of show business. They too are collecting receipts and keeping mileage logs. What starts out simply as a child’s drive and passion to act quickly becomes a business with financial, legal, and organizational responsibilities well beyond acting in the school play.
Many parents feel overwhelmed as they struggle to prioritize and stay organized. My advice is: don’t do it alone. You have the perfect resource to help keep it all successfully together—your child. No, a 10-year-old will not be able to help with the carpool. Nor is it likely that your child will immediately make things easier; however, involving a young actor with many of the day-to-day details of managing their own career can result in a tremendous growth in maturity and many other benefits.
Sound like more trouble than it’s worth? Here are seven reasons to get your preteen and older actor involved in the management of their own career:
1. Empower your child. Young actors who understand the decision making, diligence, and sacrifice necessary to pursue an acting career on both their own part and the part of their families are often completely invested. Teens and pre-teens thrive when parents nurture their adolescent development rather than control it. An inclusive approach to career decision making with real and understandable expectations and responsibilities for your young actor often leaves them feeling in control, focused, and determined.
2. Get better results. Families who involve their young actors in the nuts and bolts of running their acting careers spend more time planning and weighing their options in terms of craft development, audition opportunities, financial commitment, and family conflicts. It helps the actor make good career choices and the family unit function better.
3. Learn to budget. Pursuing an acting career is a significant financial investment. It presents a wonderful opportunity for parents to give their children a hands-on understanding of budgeting and financial decision making. A young actor can learn a lot from helping you spend their “acting allowance” wisely.
4. Keep their feet on the ground. Success can be tough to handle gracefully. Two of the best ways to keep things in perspective is for your child to experience the hard work it takes to meet their goals and recognize the contributions and sacrifices of those supporting them.
5. Put that smartphone to good use. Tech savvy teens are a great resource to help organize the paperwork functions of an acting career. A teen with a smartphone can log mileage, receipts, and appointments. They can upload sides, keep an audition log, and create an online acting notebook. In addition, they can regularly look for new audition and training opportunities. It is truly amazing what a young actor can get done in the car with their smartphone on the way home from an audition.
6. Develop life skills. Scheduling, budgeting, goal setting, and personal and family decision making develops important life skills. The consistent effort to stay organized teaches children how to focus effectively to get things done. Involvement on this level with proper parental guidance also develops communication and critical reasoning skills. These life skills show up in the audition too. Casting directors look for young actors who focus and communicate well.
7. It’s their dream. The child that is truly invested and passionate about pursuing an acting career will often appreciate the rewards of involvement and accept the responsibility to do their part. While it is not necessarily the ultimate sign of disinterest, children who are resistant may be sending you a message about their commitment or maturity. It is certainly not an all or nothing proposition. Parents who take this approach generally match the level of responsibility to the stage of their young actor’s development.
Are you ready to ramp up your young actor’s involvement in their own career? Then you will want to look out for an upcoming article in which we investigate specific jobs that young actors can assume, and strategies for parents who would like to implement this approach.
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.