How can you help your child's acting career? Here are five tips you can use to help them succeed while they pursue their dream of acting.
1) Sign them up for a good kids' acting class
If your child is six or older, this is the first step to take before even thinking of an agent or headshots. Children actors do not need that much training and "acting technique". What they need is to build the confidence to be themselves when they act. Being around other kid actors and knowing what to expect when they go to children acting auditions will help them book their first acting job. A good child acting class teachers kids to stay natural by using their innate ability to make believe. It uses methods like theater games and improvisation that make learning acting fun and exciting for the child. Kids can quickly pick up bad habits as actors, so take your time when looking for a good class. Talk to other parents and look for a teacher that will give your child a strong foundation, but then teach them "tricks" to be cute that will quickly wear off as they get older.
2) Get them a good kid headshot
Headshots are very important for any actors, because a headshot is the first thing casting directors see when they look through actor submissions. A kid headshot is even more important because children often do not have much experience on their resume yet, so a lot of the time, all a casting director has to go by is their picture. What makes a good kid headshot? One that is natural, looks exactly like your child and shows their personality. You do not even have to spend the money on a headshot photographer if your kid is just starting a child acting career. A good snapshot taken by you should suffice to start with. Just make sure you take it outside using natural light and that it is a smiling shot of your kid that shows face, hair and shoulders. Avoid make-up and fancy hairdos at all costs! A kid's headshot should look like a kid. That's what casting managers are looking for. Children who can have fun and be themselves in front of the camera. Once you have a good shot, make 8 x 10 prints for auditions.
3) Try not to coach them
It's natural for parents to want to help our children, but coaching them can really hold back their child acting career. That's because we do not see the world like they do. If we tell them how to say a particular line for an audition, we're giving them an adult's point of view on how we think the line should be said. Not only will their rendition sound awkward and forced, but we will have taken away a chance for their uniqueness and personality to shine through. What casting managers are looking for at auditions is a child's unique take on a role, not an imitation of how a parent think the role should be played. No matter how smart a parent's interpretation is, it can not rival the spontaneous take a child will have on things. Another reason not to coach your kid is that if you want them to have a long child acting career, they have to learn how to work on it themselves without any help. Even if mimicking works at the beginning, it will only take them so far.
4) Audition Locally
If your child is just starting to attend kids casting calls, do not travel miles to go to auditions in major cities far from your home. Not only will your child have to deal with longer lines and fiercer competition, but oftentimes kids' auditions in big cities are not that kid friendly. Although investigations may be few and far between at first, it will be better for your child's self-confidence if they start off in a smaller town where the casting director can take the time to talk to them and make them feel comfortable.
5) Keep it fun
Acting should always be fun for children. It's the children who are passionate about acting that are successful because it's like a game for them. How can you help keep it fun? Make sure no one – no teacher, agent or family member – is putting pressure on them to succeed. Also make sure they keep up with school work and have other hobbies and interests than acting. This will help create a balance in their lives so they do not have their own self-worth tied in with either they get the next acting job or not. Having other hobbies can in turn be helpful in their child acting skilled, so be sure to mention on their kid acting resume if they have special skills like ice skating, skateboarding, etc.
Kids who love acting have fun when they audition. They do not try to guess what casting managers want. They are able to be themselves and remain kids. And that's what producers are looking for when hiring young talent!