For good reason, parents often believe that their child’s dream to become a Hollywood actor is just that, a dream.
Yet, I can already hear you (the young actor) saying, “But it’s not a dream! I can do it! I have the dedication that it takes. I’m talented and I will work really hard for it!”
If this is the case, great – because that’s exactly what you’re going to need to succeed. You’re going to need to work really hard for it (in your local area first) to prove to your parents that your big dream is actually a realistic goal that you can and will accomplish. Because you can!
But in order to present a realistic case to your parents, you must build up their trust and confidence but showing them, not telling them, that you can do it.
You must prove that you are worthy of the journey, that you understand the long road ahead, and that your parent’s hard-earned money will not be spent on a mere “hobby.”
So let’s discuss how to do this, but first, let’s look at why your parents may not be supporting your dream. It’s very important to step into their shoes for a moment.
It’s crucial that as a young actor you understand what your parents are thinking and feeling.
Being young is an amazing thing (as I’m sure you’re reminded all of the time by your elders). As a young actor, you have your whole life ahead of you and you see big things happening in the future – which is great!
But you must understand that your parents have a different perspective on life – they may have already experienced failure, disappointment, financial fear and the reality that in life you must often do what you need to do, and not necessarily what you want to do.
Your parents may have seen friends spend their youth and early adulthood working toward an artistic passion only to wake up one day stricken by the reality that it won’t pay the bills, and now they don’t have a viable skill to fall back on.
These friends now want a house, a family, vacations, nice clothes and dinners out. Yet, without proper education, they have no way of attaining these things. They were not practical in their youth and therefore, don’t have a decent job as an adult.
These friends end up struggling, ill prepared for the world’s harsh realities: life is expensive and financial security is not an easy feat.
Your parents don’t want this to happen to you – they want you safe and well cared for; they don’t want you to wind up scared, stressed and full of regret.
This is why they want you to have a tangible goal that they are certain will set you up for a secure life – they want the best for you.
I hear you saying again, “But acting is what’s best for me. I don’t want, or need, anything else. This is all I want to do. I will be successful and be able to support myself.” If this is how you feel, that’s wonderful! There really are people who make a living acting, but you must have serious dedication, perseverance, training and talent.
You will not end up Miley Cyrus overnight (her dad was already big in show-business and she has incredible natural talent – so auditions were simpler to get).
But you work hard enough, there is a chance you could become a professional actor who lands consistent roles that pay enough to live comfortably.
• Start learning and training on your own: be self-directed! Don’t expect your parents to immediately pay for your acting training or a personal acting couch. Prove to them that you’re serious before they have to spend money.
• Learn as much as you can at school, in community theatre programs and online. There are free online workshops open to any experience level. Most provide individual feedback.
• Read as much as you can about the process of becoming an actor. Read studio websites, trusted technique books, forums and blogs… like this one!
• Take a look at our blog post How to Help Your Child Become an Actor in Six Easy Steps for more information about how to get involved as an actor.
Get as much local acting experience as possible.
Learn everything that you can about acting…locally. Go to as many auditions as you can in your area. You’re going to want to take what you can to begin building your experience, resume and credibility.
• Join the drama club at school and participate in plays (even if your goal is to be a film actor. You still need to learn the technique).
• Volunteer at colleges and universities in you area. Ask if there are any film or advertising students that need young actors. This is great for your reel.
• Join your speech and debate team. Every chance you can get to improve your public speaking will help improve your composure.
Again you want to prove to yourself and your parents that this is more than an “idea or dream”. Show them how dedicated you are.
Write your resume and start building a reel.
You absolutely need a resume if you want to act in the movies – so begin building one. Search online for a professional template and devise a plan to gain experience to fill in the gaps. There are plenty of online resources to explain exactly what you need to do. So do it!
Try to ask your drama teacher to proofread it – you must have your resume read by an adult! (Directors don’t like errors ☹). If you have a teacher read it and then take it to your parents when it’s complete, they’ll be so impressed!
Find an acting agent…in your area.
Once you have a substantial resume and plenty of acting experience, it’s wise to find an acting agent or talent agency. It won’t cost you a dime! Acting agents only get paid when YOU get paid.
With an agent you’ll find more roles, further prove to your parents your dedication to serious acting and look more professional and successful to casting directors.
But don’t get discouraged if an acting agent doesn’t pick you up at the beginning of your career; you’re going to need a considerable resume before submitting to them.
To read more about how to find a kids’ casting director, read our blog post The Process of Finding a Children’s Acting Agent – Simplified!
If you are able to land an agent, this will be a huge step toward proving to your parents that acting is a real career for you – because it truly can be! If you work hard enough to cross all of these bridges you could have an agent negotiating paying contracts for you. Your parents will love that! And they’ll love that you’re saving it for university too – right?!
Work really hard in school. Do your best in ALL of your studies. Get excellent grades!
If you can prove to your parents that you’re serious about your academics, they’ll be much more willing to take your “hobby” seriously (while you begin to prove to them that this is actually your career).
Plus, casting directors love bright minds, responsible students and young actors dedicated to learning (every acting role requires you to learn something new – that’s the fun of it!)
And if you’re going to apply for a drama scholarship, (which you are!) then you’ll need perfect grades. Let’s face it, as a kid, your job in life right now is to get good grades. You have to prove your extracurricular activities are NOT hurting your studies…before you can gain more leeway and financial assistance (like summer acting camp at YAC!).
So take school very seriously. Your future depends on it!
Have a long-term plan for your education that you can lay out to your parents.
Your parents will be much more willing to invest in your acting aspirations if they know that you are still going to college – which you ARE. Ideally, you must continue your acting education at university, where you will further your craft and build other skills. (If you change your mind about acting, you will need a degree to keep your options open.)
Most of the talented and successful screen actors studied at leading universities (like Jennifer Connolly for example, who was a child star in Labyrinth, went to Columbia University in NYC – even after she was a big star.)
So speak to your parents about your plans to get a drama education and which theatre or film scholarships you’re looking into – that is of course after you have done all of the research. If you don’t know where to begin looking for drama schools and scholarships, ask your school advisor and theatre teacher; they should be able to help you.
Show your parents that you are very serious about getting educated as an actor, and that you always have something else to fall back on – your college degree.
Never give up on your acting dreams!
Although your parents may be reluctant to move to Hollywood right now to get you into the movies, you will become your own adult soon enough.
Do what you can to build your career in your town and nearest city now, and when you’re old enough to spread your wings, you can make your own way to tinsel town. It’s all up to you!