A recurring theme among parents of child actors is feeling stressed. We can worry more than our kids do about nearly everything involved in the process, and our stress can transfer to our kids.
We worry about whether they can deal with the inevitable rejection of the audition process. We worry about their safety. We worry about whether they will ever achieve their dream of being a professional actor. We worry about finances, and how the pursuit of a career for our young actor will impact the rest of the family.
To help you enjoy the ride more—so your kids can, too—here are some basic tips and strategies to keep you sane in this business.
1. Recognize that some things are in your control—and some things are not.
Yes, do all you can to increase your kid’s odds of success, but let the rest go. Things you can control? Signing them up for quality classes. Getting good headshots every year. Opening a Coogan or blocked trust account if your state or the states your child is auditioning in requires it. Securing a work permit if your state requires it.
Also, look for opportunities to audition even before your kid has an agent. Join an online casting site like Backstage and submit when you see an appropriate role. Like everything else in life, your kid will get better with every audition they do. This alone will make a huge difference to their odds of eventual success.
2. Make peace with everything outside your control.
The stuff you cannot control (and shouldn’t)? Your kid’s height, weight, coloring, and basic “look.” Whether those things are what casting wants for a particular role or not. Whether producers want an established name or a fresh face for a given role. Luck and timing.
3. Take steps to protect your child while they pursue their dream.
Never put your home address on their résumé or any online casting boards. Monitor their social media (run it if they are under 13). Use the law: make sure any professionals they engage with (acting, voice, and dance teachers, headshot photographers, managers, etc.) have a Child Performer Services Permit if you are in California (studio teachers and agents are exempt as they have already passed background checks). Always be within sight and sound of your child while on sets (a union rule, but not always enforced, and not in effect for nonunion shoots).
4. Be realistic about your finances.
Never jeopardize your family’s well-being in the pursuit of your child’s dream. Set a threshold for the maximum amount you will spend or a minimum of savings to maintain and if you hit that number, be prepared to take a break until things stabilize.
5. Make sure everyone in the family is on board.
Check in regularly with your partner, if you have one, and any siblings to be sure the rest of your family feels honored and equally loved. Make sure your young actor contributes to the household regardless of how successful they may become. This will go a long way toward keeping your family healthy and happy.
6. Practice being a strong emotional base for your child.
Supporting a child actor can be an emotional roller coaster. Don’t get overly upset when they don’t get a hoped-for role and, just as important, don’t get overly invested when they do succeed. This will help them develop an internal emotional compass so they aren’t dependent on external success for their self-worth. And it will help you keep a sense of perspective too.
7. Look for opportunities for self-care.
You need to be able to maintain the resources and sanity necessary for this adventure. Both short-term and long-term self-care are important: you need a future of your own when your kids become young adult actors!
It takes courage, imagination, and faith to believe your kid could be a successful professional actor. If you knew the outcome, it wouldn’t be an adventure! Look for ways to enjoy the journey and your child will enjoy it too.
*This post was originally published on Aug. 9, 2018. It has since been updated.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.