How to Deal With the Stress of a Last-Minute Self-Tape for Your Child Actor

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You just received a message from your rep that your child has an audition...tomorrow. Because auditions have been slow, you are excited about the opportunity for your child. But then you realize it’s actually a self-tape with 12 pages of memorized material due in the next 24 hours. Your child isn’t even home from school yet and you’re already stressed because, on top of this self-tape, he also has a test tomorrow he needs to study for.

This stressful situation can be painful for both parents and young actors. To make it all a little easier, there are a few things you can do as a parent of a child actor:

Be prepared with equipment.
Self-tapes are very popular today so make sure you have a home setup for tapings. Even though your child will have to memorize and be prepared with the material, if you’re prepared to tape at home with lights, backdrop, and camera equipment, you won’t have to make last-minute calls looking for a studio. It will also be helpful if you/your child knows how to upload the scene onto a computer to be sent off quickly.

Oh, and be sure your printer is working so you can have the sides handy—along with a highlighter—to start the memorization process.

Ask for help.
Parental anxiety and the desires to have your child nail the audition will stress your kid out and can get in the way of their best performance. If that’s true for your family, remove yourself from the mix and use a coach or taping studio. As an acting coach who does many tapings a week, I get last-minute calls all the time and will always try to accommodate young actors if I can, even taping clients at 10 p.m. if necessary.

READ: 12 Terms Parents of Child Actors Need to Know

If there isn’t time for a live coaching session, consider a Skype lesson with a coach to get some tips on the scene to make the taping smoother. Find a mentor you can trust and count on for moments like these.

Think outside the box.
If your child is a good student and has good attendance, you may want to consider letting them tape in the morning and head to school late. Discuss the situation with the school ahead of time to let them know your child is pursuing an acting career and ask for allowances. If the school agrees, it will take some of the pressure off. If your child is auditioning regularly and seems stressed, you may want to revisit the schooling situation to make sure it’s working for everyone.

Breathe and let go of perfectionism.
Remind your child that this is all supposed to be fun, satisfying, and gratifying. Casting directors don’t expect perfection, especially when a young actor is asked to prepare many pages on short notice. The instructions say actors should memorize the material but if that is just not possible, instruct your child to become very familiar with the material. Then, he can glance at the script off to the side if he stumbles over the lines.

Ask for an extension.
In some situations, you may be able to request an extension. Extensions aren’t always available but if you don’t ask, you will never know. Speak to your rep and explain the situation. An extra day could make all the difference.

Turn down the audition.
Is it worth the aggravation? If your child has been very committed and never turns down an audition, weigh this decision carefully. Ask yourself how important this one is. Discuss this option with your child, then your agent and manager so you can make a choice together. It’s not wise to set a precedent of missing auditions but declining one or two will not be harmful if the situation is impossible.

The industry is using self-tapes so much these days and it’s a trend I don’t see slowing down anytime soon. Preparing for situations like these is wise. Be ready to move quickly and help your child do their best. Check in with your child to make sure they understand the commitment and that they’re still on board. Working hard under pressure is tough, especially when there’s no guarantee of a callback or booking so be sure to celebrate their hard work in other ways.

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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.
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Denise Simon
Denise Simon is a New York-based acting coach and career consultant who has been involved in the entertainment industry for more than 30 years as an actor, teacher, director, casting director and personal talent manager.
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