8 Tips For Raising a Child Actor By Constance Tillotson
It takes a tribe to raise an actor. I have personally seen many a young talented actors get sidelined from their dream because their parents did not have the proper education of the process. I love coaching my parents’ panels as much as directing my young actors. I believe they have their child’s best interests at heart, but with lack of education in the business, a parent can derail their child before they even get started.
Here are my 8 tips for parents.
1. If the actor is not properly trained, they are not an actor. Acting is fun, but it is not a part-time hobby. If your child is serious about pursuing this field, you must cultivate a mindset, as one would do when becoming a professional musician, athlete, or dancer. Your child must train continually in order to stay competitive and most importantly cultivate the understanding of the entire process. When a child is in school sports, parents are diligent about never missing practices or games. However, when it comes to their acting classes, many parents do not attach the same discipline. They find the money to invest in other activities, but fall short when it comes to paying for artistic training. There are thousands of classes; find one that is challenging that your child loves. Do your research. A great acting class will enhance every area of their life.
2. Don’t rush the process. Many parents rush their child to get an agent and go to auditions. If a child is not emotionally and professionally ready, the process can be too scary, shut the child down, and make them want to quit. You cannot take five acting classes and be ready for the starting line. If your child’s dream is playing for the NBA, would a couple of months training prepare them for a career? Check in with your child’s acting coach and TRUST their advice if they are ready or not. Just as with everything in life, we all have our own unique process. I have seen actors go out and book jobs immediately, and others take years before they are ready for the riggers of auditioning.
3. Each audition is a success. With every audition your actor has already achieved success. They are NOT easy to get. They have beat out hundreds, if not thousands for the opportunity. The truth is an actor will NOT BOOK far more then they will book. When your child is ready to begin auditioning, please understand that it can take 50-100 auditions before booking a job. If an actor is training, can take direction well, and has confidence in their craft, they will raise their odds of booking a job. Each audition makes them better at what they love to do. The audition brings them into the sphere of new casting directors, producers, and directors.
4. Positive support is essential. The best thing a parent can do for their child actor is to take them auditions with positive support, regardless of how stressful the process can be. Even with all the traffic on the 101, trying to get off work, or needing to get to your other child’s little league game, keep this stress to yourself. Your child will feel it. I have known booking actors who began doing very poorly in auditions because they felt guilty at the stress they were causing their family. Let your actor do the job happily and with no pressure. It takes so much courage to be an actor. Ask yourself if you could continually go into a room of strangers and let all your feelings out? Also, make sure there is no negative competition with the other parents.
5. Let it go. One of the most difficult things about the auditioning process is letting it go, and this mindset is mandatory for the long-term success of the actor. When it’s over, don’t talk about the audition, unless your actor wishes to discuss it. Don’t tell all your friends your child is up for a role. Don’t call your agent/manager wondering, “if they heard anything.” I promise you, if your team receives any feedback on a callback or booking YOU will be the first to know. The best thing to do is just move on with all that is fabulous in your life.
6. When on-set, the parent is not there to direct the movie. Once your child begins to work, my very best advice is: remain their parent. I have witnessed parents on set who do not remain in the background as support but instead try to network. They make suggestions to the director, try to get their child more lines, hit up the producers for other projects, or hound them for all information on the current one. Remember, this is your team’s job. You are there for your child’s emotional support. You are there to ensure they are safe. I know too many stories of children who have been fired or not hired because their parent did not stay in their own lane.
7. You are part of a team. Sometimes, once a parent attains a little knowledge or their child has made a little money, they feel they can suddenly manage or give expert advice on their child’s career. When in reality, they do not have a professional network of casting directors or agents. They have not spent years cultivating personal and professional relationships with directors, actors, and producers. They do not have access to casting opportunities. Create an amazing team for your child and be there for what your child needs most need in life: a wonderful parent.
8. Trust your child. When they have achieved the proper skillset, they know their business. They know what to wear for auditions. They know how to prepare their sides. Last word of advice PLEASE do not coach them! A casting director can smell it from a mile away. When I began as an actor, my teacher said it takes 10 years to become a great actor. I did not like hearing this at the time. But I can now attest that she was right. Acting looks easy. It is not. Just like basketball. Kobe makes it look so effortless. When he missed a free-throw, I would think “I coulda made that shot!” That was until last year when I was on the “Think Like a Man” set coaching Laker Metta World Peace. He handed me the basketball and told me to show him how easy it was and with this I knew I had better stick to acting.