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The Working Actor

Can Puberty Cut Down on Booking Auditions?

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Can Puberty Cut Down on Booking Auditions?
Photo Source: Thomas Pitilli

The Parent Trap

Dear Michael:

My son’s most recent audition was June 25. I know summer is a slow time, but he’s never gone this long without an audition. I wanted to find out if it’s a common occurrence that teen boys hitting puberty go through an idle stage with acting work. I’ve been told that they don’t tend to get hired because producers fear growth spurts during filming. Stage work involving singing seems to hit a snag when vocal changes occur. I see other 15-year-olds working—have they already gone through puberty? Not sure what needs to change, or if this is just a given to get through. I’m wondering if this “cool-down period” is legitimate or has to do with where we live, representation, type, or some other factor I’ve failed to consider (acting skills?). Am I being unnecessarily worried? Has the poor economy contributed to making this a worse summer than in prior years? Or is it time to change agents?

—Puzzled Parent

Dear P.P.:

Here’s some tough love.

I think you’re being obsessive. I’ve seen this same problem in many stage parents—this blind, intense drive on behalf of their kids. The problem is, this pushiness doesn’t lead to more roles (in fact, it can easily lead to fewer), and it makes both kid and parent miserable. A stage mom once told me that her daughter had “blown it” on her last audition. I asked what she meant. “Well, she didn’t get it,” she said with fire in her eyes. I hated to think of that poor kid being under such pressure, when any actor can tell you that not booking is the norm.

Among an actor’s hardest challenges is getting through slow periods. It’s easy to slip into anxiety, wondering if something’s wrong. But when auditions are scarce, there usually isn’t any special reason. It’s just how things are.

I think you do your son a disservice by fretting so much. In one way or another, I’m sure he picks up on it. And what will happen is that when he does have an audition, he’ll feel pressured to book, which will make it difficult to do his work as an actor. At his age, this stuff should be fun. He shouldn’t be worried about not working enough. What, does he have a mortgage hanging over his head? Credit card debt? Let the kid be 15.

Don’t read anything into the lack of auditions. Don’t worry about what other teen actors are doing. Fight like crazy against intensity. Cultivate inner peace (seriously, I’m not kidding). Go do other fun things with your son. Puberty is tough enough without the added feeling that it might be ruining his acting career.

You’ll find, I’m guessing, that sooner or later the auditions will pick up again...then stop for what seems like ages...then pick up again. And so it goes.

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