How Do I Determine My Child Actor’s Age Range?

Photo Source: Jordan Sondler

Q: My daughter just turned 14 and she’s received invitations for auditions, but all the parts have been older teens. I really thought her range would be younger. How do you determine your child’s age range? —@SG401, Backstage Community Forum

As a talent manager in Los Angeles, parents bring children of all shapes and sizes in for representation. Sometimes it’s hard to get representation for kids who are too tall for their age—actors who are small for their age are more desired by agents, managers, and CDs. Industry people usually prefer a 12-year-old who looks 8, or an 18-year-old who looks 14. Very rarely do they want actors who look older than they really are. But there are exceptions.

Why are younger-looking children preferred? One reason is the child labor laws. An 18-year-old who looks 14 can work the longer hours of an adult. Younger children have to work shorter days and limited hours. Production companies like to get the most out of their actors when they shoot, so hiring older actors who look younger is better for the budget and timeline.

Another reason? When networks like Disney or Nickelodeon have a hit show that’s on the air for several years, they don’t want kids to grow out of the age they play. If they start in sixth grade on the show, they need to stay in sixth grade for three years.

But there are ways to overcome the bias against taller children. My suggestion is to become an outstanding actor—be so good they can’t say no! And concentrate on building other talents. Get so good at something that your height becomes secondary. An exceptional musician auditioning for a part that requires an exceptional musician? Height becomes irrelevant.

Or let your child’s height work to her advantage and play character roles. The tall girl is often cast as the bully. The tall boy is usually cast as the basketball player. Develop a bully persona you can audition with. Gwendoline Christie used her height (6-foot-3) to intimidate people on 37 episodes of “Game of Thrones.” Let your child embrace who she is! There will never be anyone else like her.

Actors who are tall for their age often have to work harder than others, but taller actors are just as capable of doing great things and having as fantastic a career as anyone else!

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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.

Wendy Alane Wright
Wendy Alane Wright is a Hollywood talent manager and the president of WAW Entertainment. Her clients have appeared on television networks such as ABC, NBC, TNT, CBS, Comedy Central, BIO, Lifetime, and more. 

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