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So You Want To Be A Actor.....Parents Watch Out for These Scams and Red Flags

Updated: Jan 31

So you see that your child loves to entertain people by singing, dancing, whatever he/she may do. They aren't shy and you think they can do what you see that kid off of a Disney show is doing right? Maybe your child enjoys watching the local community theatre play.

I have plenty of advice on how to get your child started in the biz. I managed two of my children and I can give you 18 years of information on that topic but today I want to tell you a few things to watch out for and my advice on what NOT to do. Also, I'm going to give you some books to check out that I think are beneficial to you getting started in showbiz! Here is one that is written by a casting director who shares stories about some A-list actors' auditions and how some of them almost missed that audition that changed their lives! Check it out here

Ok, so what should you avoid?

1.) I'm sure you have heard the radio ads that promise if you come to their "audition" your child could be the next big "Disney star" right? As a talent agent and former Los Angeles talent manager, I can tell you that I have submitted and booked my actors on Disney and Nickelodeon series and we didn't go to some open call where they ask you to pay them money and they guarantee you that your child will be in a commercial first then a tv series. It just doesn't work that way. I'm not saying that sometimes casting won't do open auditions because when there is a new tv series (pilot) often casting wants to do what we say in the industry "cast a wide net." This means they want to see as many child/teen actors in as many states as possible and find some "new faces." A side note, Disney and Nickelodeon like to cast children from the south because they like the fact that these actors are well-mannered and they and their parents should be easy to get along with on set. I will address set etiquette in another blog but believe me it's a huge deal! For now, you can read more on this Bottom line next time you hear one of those radio ads, don't fall for it. If any talent agency, casting office, etc asks for money upfront, don't get desperate and pay it. Legit casting directors use a website for talent agents and this is where we submit our talent to these roles. It should never cost you a dime to submit your child to a talent agency or talent manager. 

2.) Speaking of not ever paying a talent agent or talent manager to submit to them, you should not be told by a talent agent that you must only use their photographer, their acting instructors, or anyone that they suggest. A good agent should give you some choices and you research them and get references (be sure to check out their work too) but you are the one who decides who you want to use. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way. When my son and I first went out to California (after attending a talent showcase....this is a whole other subject that I will also discuss) we met a talent manager who wanted me to use only her person for headshots, acting instruction, and to write a monologue that my son would tape to have a "reel" (a movie file of a scene or monologue to upload on the casting website that agents use to submit). Well, this person who we were supposed to use took a month to write the monologue and wanted my son to do a month of acting classes taking classes two to three times a week at about $125 a class. He charged for the monologue as well and he was a "photographer" too! So to start our first week in California we were out close to $2,000 all going to this guy who was an actor with a few side hustles. The interesting fact to point out here is that this manager was getting a "kickback" percentage of our payment if we used her guy. This agent submitted my son to a few student films and that was about it. I learned more about the process and how to submit and I decided I would submit my son he began building a resume and we started saving AND making some money. My gut feeling is always my guide and something was not adding up with this manager and her suggestions with this person who fully took advantage of us. Long story short, beware of these situations. You will be out of money before you know it. Have you ever thought about how much it takes to make it in California for a month? When my son and I went, we took $10,000 and went through it within that month and we were very frugal. It is much more these days I assure you. 

3.) Let's get back to talent shows, workshops, and showcases. So I will confess, my son and I did attend a showcase. A friend of mine invited us to go along with her and her daughter to Orlando. We thought this would be a fun trip and we get to go to Disney World/Universal Studios, and I could see if my son enjoyed acting and singing. There are usually a few areas of competition and it is modeling, hosting, acting, and singing. My son chose acting and singing to compete in. He did his thing and ended up doing pretty good actually. On the last day of the talent show, we were invited to meet with potential agents and talent managers. He had eight callbacks where we were told we needed to come out to California for a minimum of three months to try out the business. We thought that was great, now let's go to Universal Studios ha! My main objective was to make the most out of this trip so that my son could be a kid and enjoy the trip. ( he was only 8 years old). (By the way, if you decide to do this biz with your child, do yourself a favor and don't take it too seriously, and most importantly make sure you make it a fun experience for your child. At the end of the day, all that matters is that they have good memories of this experience and especially make sure that you are not living out your dreams through them. I would ask my children often if they wanted to do this business. They always said yes, so we kept at it. Back to showcases.... my advice is to save your money (usually they cost anywhere from $500 up to thousands depending on how many days, if lodging is included, etc. The agents and talent managers are paid to be there usually so it does benefit industry people as well. It doesn't cost a dime to submit to agents and talent managers yourself so consider this. I will say that smaller more economical workshops and showcases are sometimes worth it and agents attend them to see new talent that may be from different states and markets and we are always looking for fresh talent. Many workshops/showcases are now online as well. 

I hope that you have found some value from my information. I will add links to helpful resources below. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog today. I will be adding more free resources along with packet info for purchase on topics such as: how to tape an audition, what you need to do before submitting to a talent agent, what the difference between a talent agent and a talent manager is, working in different markets, do I need to relocate to California or New York to be a successful actor, rules for minors working in showbiz and much more. 

Actor Resources Monologue book for teens and children Light kit for taping auditions at home Deals on audible Meisner kindle edition Stella Adler kindle edition Acting on Impulse

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