As the parent of a child actor, you play a major role in your child’s career and development. After all, you’re the one answering emails, taking phone calls, confirming appointments, and making sure your child makes it to her auditions and bookings on time. As a natural progression of these responsibilities, some parents develop an interest in becoming licensed, official representatives of their children.
Most parents choose to leave the official agent and manager responsibilities to actual agents and managers, but as a parent, you do have some choices to make regarding your involvement in your child’s career. At my acting studio for young actors in Los Angeles, I’ve counseled many parents on this topic over the past 20 years. I’ve answered a lot of their questions and the answers are something you should consider before making your own decision.
I want to protect my child, so can and should I represent her as an agent?
Only a parent who has gone through the complex, elaborate, and expensive process to get an agent’s license can legally be their child’s talent agent. So, basically, very few child actors have parents who are professional agents. Being an agent requires legal knowledge and complex contract negotiation knowledge. It involves being on call and available every day to submit to breakdowns, confirm auditions, and take phone calls from producers, casting directors, and others.
As such, parents will more commonly parlay the skills they acquire in supporting their child’s careers to become licensed managers. Still, this is a complex process and will become a full-time job!
Should I become my child’s official full-time manager?
A common term used to describe a mother who manages a child’s career is “momager.” Some momagers become passionate about managing talent, become professional licensed managers, and even build talent rosters to represent other actors. Again, any parent wishing to manage their child’s career in this official capacity must go through the legal process of becoming licensed. Know that being a talent manager is a full-time job on top of your duties of driving your child to and from auditions and other places.
The reason that it’s more common for a parent to become a manager than an agent is that as a licensed manager, you can set up a scenario in which agents and lawyers are handling processes like contract negotiations and you’re more focused on the overall progression of your child’s career. If you do actually become your child’s official manager, I don’t recommend that your child go agent-less as you could be taken advantage of. Your child still needs a professional, licensed agent to get the better auditions, to negotiate contracts, and to get your child paid on time.
Professional agents, managers, and entertainment lawyers are the best people to do all pertinent negotiations—not parent managers who may not understand contract language, how to negotiate salaries, or how to handle challenging and high-stakes interactions with industry professionals. When my son TJ was a child actor, I was so glad he had an agent whose job it was to protect my child on all levels, making sure contractually he was getting the best offers.
Becoming your child’s manager could be a good situation for you while your child is starting out, but it takes a lot of dedication and commitment. The majority of child actors do sign with professional talent agents and managers.
If I do become my child’s manager, when is it a good time for me to hand this duty over to someone else?
When your child starts earning over 100,000 a year, it’s likely time to hand your managerial duties over to a bigger management company.
If I definitely don’t want to be my child’s official representative, should she start out with an agent or a manager?
The goal when your child actor enters the business is to get traction. It doesn’t really matter if you start with a manager or an agent. A manager will help you get an agent, and an agent will help you get a manager. Both will help move your career forward. They are your team, should get along with one another, and, of course, with you! You must vet any agent or manager you consider. Protecting yourself and your child comes down to working with experienced and professional people who you like and trust, and who have the necessary connections to help your child get work. Also, look for individuals who will communicate often and honestly with you about what they are doing. Be sure to vet everyone who may end up representing your child.
Go with the flow and keep a positive attitude. There will be appointment changes and last-minute schedule changes. There will be challenging moments and very rewarding moments. Whatever role you choose to play in your child’s career, the single most important thing you can do is maintain a positive, even-keeled attitude that your child can model. It’s possible that your child will remain in this business for a lifetime and starting out with a positive mindset is essential.