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Practically every child, at some point or another, has aspirations of being an actor. However, some children and their families decide to take steps to enter the professional world immediately!
I was one of these kids, and I signed with my first agents and started auditioning when I was twelve years old. The world of auditioning and rejection can be a whirlwind for adult actors, let alone children and their parents!
But with some simple preparations and guidelines, you can actually learn to enjoy the experience, regardless of the outcomes. Here are some crucial tips for finding success (while staying sane)!
There are a lot of components to having a great audition and getting the job, but one of the most important is being prepared and informed! Make sure you’ve read the breakdown and any information from your agent or manager about character descriptions, rehearsal and performance/shoot dates, compensation, etc. I
f you know you can’t be available for the whole project, or that your child isn’t comfortable with any of the subject material, do not accept the audition. It’s better to be upfront than to waste people’s time. Make sure your child has all the appropriate items they’ll need for their audition, including any sides, sheet music (in a binder!), a water bottle, dance clothes or shoes, headshots and resumes (stapled!), and perhaps a book or headphones to keep them occupied while waiting.
It might be helpful to create an “audition bag” that contains all these things, and maybe even some extra items like a change of clothes, a first aid kit, cough drops, phone chargers, etc. Anything that will increase you and your child’s comfort and decrease stress!
While of course these experiences are meant to be fun and enjoyable, it’s first and foremost a business. Know that everyone is there to do a job, and be respectful of people’s time. Do your best to avoid being late or unprepared, and don’t overstep boundaries with casting directors or agents.
There may be other parents or children who are interested in a kind of waiting room “chat” that can be more detrimental than helpful. Don’t be afraid to advocate for your child or your own sanity. You don’t have to engage in the gossip of who booked what, did-your-agent-call-you-about-this, and other seemingly innocuous banter. It pays off to remain positive but firm, and keep information to yourself. Encourage your child to focus on what they need to prepare, stay calm, and be themselves, and surround yourselves with a crew of supportive and positive influences.
It Takes a Village
The world of auditioning is unpredictable, and often appointments can come with only a day’s notice. For parents who work or have other children to care for, this can be a daunting task. Assemble a team for your child of people who can take them to and from auditions, such as babysitters or extended family members.
If your child does school plays or community theatre where there are high school or college students volunteering their time, consider those people! These are people who know your child, can be familiar with the arts and auditioning, and who would love to make some extra cash.
When I was a child auditioning, I even had former camp counselors who used to take me to my auditions! It Gabriella Green made me feel safe and secure for my audition, but also felt like a treat to hang out with these cool older people! Which brings me to my next point…
Practice Self-Care and Kindness
The business can be brutal, especially for children and teens who are already going through the challenges of growing up! You’re going to get far more “no’s” than “yes’s” when auditioning, and many times kids lose out on roles because of things they can’t control, like their height, how old they look, etc.
It’s important to find ways to find the joy in auditioning and learning that don’t have to do with booking the job. Plan activities or treats for after auditions, like getting ice cream, visiting a favorite store, going to the park, seeing friends, etc. It helps give something to look forward to after an audition, and emphasizes that life doesn’t have to revolve around this particular job.
Remind yourselves of all the other amazing things happening in life!
Do Your Research
Overall, kids will have more success in auditioning if they have the practice and training. If you’re based in the tristate area, there are organizations like The Broadway Workshop, Broadway Artists Alliance, Camp Broadway, and many more, who offer master classes and workshops to help students gain confidence and hone their skills.
Some programs even offer scholarships or financial assistance. Wherever you’re located, it’s important to find a dance studio, a voice teacher, and other professionals who can help your child lay a healthy foundation that reduces the potential for strain or injury in the future. In terms of books, I’d recommend Jen Rudin‘s Confessions of a Casting Director, which gives an in-depth look at various aspects of auditioning and the business (like choosing the right headshot, using technology and social media, NY vs. LA, and more) from the perspective of a casting director.
Make sure your sources are reliable, and people who are actually working in the current industry. Don’t believe everything on the internet! (Except this article, you can trust this.)
Overall, auditioning as a child gave me a ton of perspective that informs how I prepare for auditions today! I am so lucky to have had parents, family, and teachers who supported me in what I wanted to do. Working in the business professionally is an opportunity for kids to practice discipline and hard work, skills that can be applicable to any of their future endeavors. This is a chance for them to explore and take risks, in a time before they have to worry about paying the bills. You can give them the strength and support they need to succeed!
And parents? Don’t forget to savor this time! It’ll be over before you know it.
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