How to Survive the Gap Between Late Teens and Adulthood as an Actor

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If you have a 15-to17-year-old-child in the industry, this may be your most important read of the year.

Have you noticed that as your child actor creeps closer to 18, the opportunities are fewer and further between? It’s not just you. When given the option, production will choose an actor over the age of 18 to play younger every time. Why? So they don’t have to adhere to Child Labor Laws or hire a tutor to spend three hours every shoot day for schooling. Talent doesn’t need a permit, they can work adult hours, and they don’t need a guardian on set.

All of these reasons add up to saving money and getting more shoot time.

But don’t despair, there’s a way around this: the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE). It’s a high school equivalency test offered three times a year that can allow your minor child to work as an adult in the industry, meaning they’d be eligible for all those coveted “18 to play younger” roles.

Who can take the test? Anyone who is 16 years old, anyone who has completed 10th grade, or anyone who will complete 10th grade by the end of the semester on which the test is given.

READ: 5 Dos and Don'ts for Parents of Child Actors

What’s on the test? It’s comprised of two sections, one that assesses basic reading/writing skills, and one for math skills taught in public schools. You must pass both parts to receive the CHSPE certificate. The math portion is all multiple choice, while the English Language Arts portion includes multiple choice and an essay. If your child passes one part and not the other, they can take the test again and only retake the failed section.

Please note that this isn’t advocating for the CHSPE over high school. Your child actor should take and pass the test solely for the roles that will be open to them, but should still continue their education in the same way they would have without the test. For example, my son took the CHSPE before landing his gig on “Victorious.” Since they were no longer obligated to provide tutoring on set, we made sure to get all his work from school and keep up with the curriculum on our own.

Don’t miss opportunities your child may be perfect for but are denied due to age. This is a great tool for giving your child an advantage over other kids in their age group. Start studying and good luck!

Is your child actor ready? Check out our 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.

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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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