Having worked with child actors and their parents for decades, I always emphasize the importance of making a great first impression. Auditions provide wonderful opportunities for you and your child to connect with casting directors, producers, and directors, and to forge long-lasting business relationships.
As I teach in my classes, your child’s audition starts the moment you both walk into the casting studio. There are many things that both you and your child can do so that your child makes the best first impression possible.
1. Be prepared.
The best way to help your child prepare for auditions is to enroll her in an ongoing acting class. Beyond this, though, there are many things you can do before an audition.
If your child is under five years of age, even though she may not have any specific lines to learn for the audition, you can help her to prepare. Have her practice saying her name and introducing herself to adults. You’ll want her to be as comfortable as possible interacting with adults that are not you or immediate family. Again, acting classes will help with this. Additionally, you could invite a neighbor over and perhaps practice with some of your adult friends that she doesn’t know as well. The more practice she has speaking to adults, the better! You can also rehearse questions and ask her what her favorite color is, favorite character, favorite food, etc. Have adult friends ask her these questions as well! You’ll also want to have your child rehearse basic physical movement like sitting in a chair, standing up, or picking up a toy.
If your child is over five, all of the above still applies. It’s just likely that your child will also need to learn some lines for the audition or be prepared to do more speaking and communicating in the room. Be sure to practice in advance! When your child is well prepared ahead of time you will not need to over-coach the day of the audition. This will keep the audition day stress free and fun for you both.
2. Be relaxed.
Since you’re reading this, I already know that you care a great deal about your child and his happiness! You’re dedicating your time to help him pursue something that he loves doing. This is so wonderful.
As a parent who will be present on set if your child books the job, know that you’re just as much a part of the audition as your child is. The casting director is considering bringing both of you onto a professional set. So, when you enter the casting office, no matter how stressful the heavy traffic may have been, or how concerned you may be that your child will remember to do everything that he practiced at home, be sure to let go and keep an attitude of light and fun. Let the casting director take the lead. Step in to guide your child only if and when you need to.
Even if your child is doing something completely uncharacteristic or that you feel is “bad” behavior, hold off on any heavy scolding in front of the casting director. Keep the environment positive and encouraging. In fact, I recommend the same for any conversations you have with your child immediately following the audition. I’m a big fan of positive reinforcement and of highlighting all of the things that went well in the audition.
If you’re late, don’t freak out. This just creates more stress. Instead, wait calmly in the waiting room until you’re called, and perhaps explain briefly to the casting director that there was a road blockage or what happened only if you feel it’s necessary. Often, especially for commercial auditions, the casting directors are so busy that they don’t realize if someone has arrived, say, 10 minutes late. That said:
3. Be on time.
Do your best to be on time. Better yet, be early! Especially when your child is being paired with actor “parents” at a callback or is up for a network TV or feature film role. There are less time slots for these auditions, and so it really can impact the casting director’s schedule if you are 10 or more minutes late. Allow time for the worst traffic ever. Allow time for your toddler, who you’re bringing with you in addition to your child actor, to have the worst tantrum of her life in the parking lot. It’s better to be early and safe. It’s also a good idea to have a spouse or helper with you if you have multiple children in tow.
4. Be quiet in the lobby.
This one is tough, especially at a kids’ audition. Kids can be chatty and that is part of their charm! But do your best. If you have an infant or toddler in addition to your child actor, again, I’d recommend having someone else with you if possible to help with childcare or you could hire a babysitter for your other children for a few hours while you take your child actor to the audition.
5. Be easy to find.
Sometimes, wait times can be long. However, it’s important that you’re easy to find when your child’s name is called. So be sure to wait near the door of the room, within earshot of the casting director. This sounds simple, but often actors will wander out of the waiting room just before their turn.
6. Be sure to tell the casting director if your child is sick.
This tip came straight from a casting director’s mouth. Some child casting directors don’t have young children. They, therefore, are not immune to the types of head colds and viruses that young kids are exposed to at school. If your child has a cold, let the casting director know. That way, the casting director can ensure proper distance from your child and can wash her hands after the session to prevent illness.
If your child is very sick, cancel the audition. The casting director will be grateful that you were so courteous and may even offer you the opportunity to make a self-tape or come in another day.
7. Have fun!
Most importantly, have a wonderful time with your child. Auditioning is a huge part of any acting career, and it’s so important that you have fun while doing it! If your child is experiencing joy, so will everyone else in the room.
Check out Backstage’s kids auditions!
The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.