Q: How much experience does a child or teen actor need before getting an agent?—@SUPERSTAR724*
For me, it’s much more about talent than it is about experience. I also look for a child with great self-motivation, because there’s so much rejection in our industry. If a child wants to sing, I look for good pitch and a good sense of music. Beyond that, good training is a must. Otherwise, doing eight shows a week will quickly hurt a child’s sensitive vocal cords. That’s something I demand. And it goes without saying that if a child wants to dance, they must be properly trained, as well.
The children who are the most successful are usually naturally good actors. Technique can be trained, but, in my opinion, natural actors really are born that way. They’re the ones constantly pretending to be various characters around the house and directing their friends in backyard productions. Kids who have done a lot of stage performance will need to learn the difference between that style and the understated style that works on-camera if they want to do that sort of work. I do think on-camera training that helps the child learn to use the camera and stay small enough to be real leads to more success.
If they have already been on Broadway or a national tour, that speaks loud and clear to me about their experience level. But a résumé that includes leads in regional theater and even community theater and school shows will make me take notice. If I see some film work like student films, I view those as a plus. These things not only show experience, but also indicate a child who finds joy in acting. As I said at the start, motivation is first and foremost for me. I have had a child get their first Broadway role with absolutely no prior experience a week after we initially met. There are no rules set in stone in my crazy world.
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This story originally appeared in the Jan. 14 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.
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