So you have a budding young star in the family who would love to become an actor. Fantastic!
This step-by-step guide will lead you through the process of helping your son or daughter break into one of the world’s most exciting, yet competitive, industries – the children’s film acting industry.
Although parents must take the lead in jump-starting their child’s film acting career, we’ve directed this article toward the young actor. Although the process is crucial for parents to understand, we believe that it’s imperative that the child must also have a clear grasp of the amount of work that lies ahead.
In the end, it is the young actor’s responsibility to dedicate their time and effort to their journey. So parents, after reading this informative how-to article, we encourage you to pass it along to your aspiring professional actor for them to read.
Step One: Training – find an acting school, acting coach and acting camp
Although you may have a natural acting talent, it’s imperative that you get professional training now and throughout your acting career. There’s always room for education and improvement.
Before auditioning at Disney and applying to talent agencies, it’s important to understand and develop acting techniques and terminology. You don’t want to walk into your first audition as a green novice who doesn’t understand how to take direction.
So get involved with your drama department at school and begin diligently studying and practicing acting. Look for local acting schools, acting coaches and acting camps that you can afford.
Young Actors Camp in Hollywood, CA is a great example of a valuable training resource for young actors just starting out. Here you acquire valuable acting education, along with important insight into the way the industry works and how to navigate your way through it.
Decide on what your focus will be (television, commercials, movies, etc.) and identify your strengths and talents. That way you’ll be able to clearly outline your goals in your resume, which is an important piece of your press kit.
Step Two: Get great headshots – a professional first impression is imperative
Every actor needs professional headshots. Because headshots are the first thing talent agents and casting directors see, it is the most important marketing tool you’ll have. Do not skimp on headshots; have them taken by a professional photographer.
An actor’s headshot will range between $50 and $1000 and should be an 8×10 photo. Do not write your name, or any other information, on the front of the photo. You may write your name and phone number on the back, but be very tidy.
Step Three: Find acting roles – get involved in everything that you can
Although it often seems difficult to get experience without having experience, every actor must begin somewhere. Film stars don’t usually start out on film; they start out on stage. So begin taking even the smallest roles that you can find.
Look for parts in your school play, in local theatre companies and in drama schools and clubs. You can also take parts as extras if a movie screening comes locally.
In the beginning of a young actor’s career, the main goal is to get absolutely as much experience as possible. You want to improve your craft and start building a resume that will eventually impress talent agents.
Depending on where you live, you may need to look for young actor’s roles in a large geographical radius. You may be able to carpool, so do your best to be creative about transportation and make the job happen. (To read more about how to find kid’s acting auditions, read our blog post: 5 Great Tips For Finding Kid’s Local Acting Auditions.)
Step Four: Create an impressive resume – every child actor needs a resume (in Europe referred to as a CV)
Once you’ve performed enough to have a decent list of roles, it’s time to write your resume. This should be something that you dedicate a considerable amount of time to; it needs to look as professional and sophisticated as possible.
On your resume you will want to include the following information:
• Your name, social security number and contact info
• Your height, weight, eye color, hair color and race
• Any actor’s unions (like SAG) that you belong to
• All of your acting experience: starting with film, followed by theatre
• Your training and education
• Your agent’s name and information
• Your headshot neatly stapled on the back of the resume by each corner
Step Five: Find a talent agent – you don’t have to pay a dime!
Now that you have acting training and education, experience as an actor and your headshot and resume complete, it’s time to look for an acting agent or talent agency. (But beware of frauds. Professional talent agents only get paid 10% of what you get paid.)
Talent agents are very important for every professional child actor: they help guide you through your career, have access to long lists of roles, find great auditions for you and negotiate your contract. (To learn more about how to find a talent agent read our blog post, The Process of Finding a Children’s Acting Agent – Simplified!)
Step Six: Continually study, practice and improve – never stop learning
Although at this stage of the game you’re hopefully getting roles and continuing to build your resume, as with anything in life, if you strive to become a successful expert in your field, you must never stop learning. Never.
Those who get too comfortable at a certain level of proficiency often fall out of the film acting industry; it’s a fast paced environment that’s always changing. So you must keep up. You must continually stay current on industry news, techniques and opportunities by reading the leading magazines, websites and newspapers.
Intently watch, listen and practice: when you watch a film, don’t merely watch for entertainment’s sake; this is your profession now and you need to analyze everything. Take mental (and physical) notes on techniques that work, and those that don’t.
Each day, practice memorizing new and complicated lines. Recite them in front of your video camera, and review the footage for ways to improve – then reshoot again and again. You will want to keep practicing in this way throughout your entire career.
Above all, saturate yourself with the performing arts: watch every movie, play and improve that you can. Immerse yourself in your local drama scene and become 100% dedicated to continually studying, learning, practicing and improving.
Your hard work and dedication will surely pay off with an extremely rewarding life as a professional actor. So best of luck! Go out there a make your big dream of acting for the silver screen into a wonderful reality.