5 Dos + Don’ts for Parents of Child Actors

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When you first start bringing your child to auditions, it can be hard to know exactly how everything works and what’s expected of you. You want to do all you can to make the opportunity as successful as possible for your child, while also following the etiquette of a casting director’s office.

You don’t want to do anything that will hurt your child’s chances of getting the job, but you also don’t want to feel uncomfortable with what needs to be done or how to go about doing it. Here are some audition tips for novice parents and some refreshers for parents who are already in the business.

Don’t be too pushy.
When you go to a casting director’s office, you can be sure that whoever is working in the waiting room or facilitating the audition outside the audition room will be reporting back on all your behavior. Listening at the door to eavesdrop on the session, asking questions about your child’s performance when they leave the room, or bombarding the casting director with questions about how it went after the audition are all huge red flags for casting. These things make it appear that you’re the dreaded “stage parent” who is more interested in the business for themselves than for the child.

Do ask questions when necessary.
Asking the casting assistant where the sign-in sheet is, clarifying which copy you’ll be needing for a cold read, or double-checking that you have everything you need when you get there are totally fine. Asking for details about exactly what casting is looking for, tips to give your child the edge once they’re in the room, or feedback on how other auditions have gone so far that day are not okay. Don’t be nosy, needy, or a nag.

Don’t put too much pressure on your child.
Whether before the audition or as you’re running lines before you go inside, you don’t want to give the appearance that you’re in this for anything but the potential for future success. Critiquing your child’s rehearsal, openly bribing them, complaining about past missed opportunities, or any other negativity will be noticed, even if you think you’re doing so nonchalantly. The most successful kids are the ones who clearly want to be doing what they are doing, are excited to be auditioning, and seem happy to have a chance to book a new role. They are not the ones whose parents seem too forcefulif you’re showing this behavior at the first audition, casting will have no choice but to believe this will continue future auditions, callbacks, or shoots.
Do be on your best behavior.
Be on time, prepared, and ready to go as soon as you get there. From the moment you walk into the building, you should treat this as all part of the audition. You don’t know if the person you run into in the elevator is part of the casting director’s team, or whether a comment you make in the restroom will be overheard and taken the wrong way. You and your child should both be as professional as possible. Remember that your behavior reflects upon both you and your child. Being friendly, chatting with people casually, and going through lines with your child are all great. Commenting on the script, the way the audition is being run, other children you see in the waiting room, or your thoughts on the role are all not acceptable. Save that for the car ride home or talking about how everything went over dinner.

Don’t be impatient.
This is just one audition. You’ll have plenty of chances in the future to find the perfect role, and today may or may not be that day. Every audition is a learning experience and a chance to prepare for the next one. Take this for what it is: a one-time opportunity that may be a big break, or may be something you never hear about again. 

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your child, because that is when this stops being fun and becomes a chore. Let time and experience be your biggest ally, because the more you do, the more you learn. Use your manager as a resource if you have any questions or concerns. We want to see you do as well as possible!

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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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Jackie Reid
Jackie Reid owns and operates L’il Angels Unlimited, a talent management company, which specializes in placing young actors in films, theater productions, commercials, print media, on television, and with voiceover work. Reid works extensively with agents in New York and L.A.
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