I just spent a few days in Vancouver on the set of Descendants 2 watching the final day of dance rehearsals and then the first two days of shooting. I had one day of free time with Dove, (most of which she slept!) and sat in on a promo photo shoot on Sunday before I flew back home to Los Angeles.
Two years ago Dove was eighteen, and absolutely needed the emotional and logistical support of a parent on set. Today, at twenty, while she loves sharing the special experience with her mom, and enjoys having me near, I am there by invitation and not necessity.
It’s exciting to see your kid grow into a true professional, knowing how to conduct herself with every level of production, as well as managing the many details of sometimes living in a different country for months at a time.
I have come to believe that professional acting is an incredible life school for young people. In the course of living the life of a professional actor, a child/teen/young adult can learn how to:
- Speak to anyone about anything with confidence
- Answer interview questions with the thoughtful articulation of an essayist
- Be disciplined: show up ready no matter how early or late the call time
- Learn how to take care of their health and energy so they stay well and don’t go down despite what can be very grueling schedules
- Navigate difficult people and appreciate the generous ones
- Keep a positive attitude because they discover that attitudes are contagious, and their mood and energy affects others
- Be prepared and responsible
- Treat everyone with respect regardless of their station because on set as in life, everyone is important
- Stay curious because it is regularly apparent that there is something they have yet to learn
- Stay grateful because all actors learn that nothing is forever
There is much more of course, but these are the things I am noticing at this moment.
Spending time with the stellar cast of the Disney Descendants franchise—the biggest thing Disney Channel has created in the ten years since High School Musical—I am struck by the grounded, kind, humble nature of this whole group of young actors. I would be proud to be the parent of any one of them. I don’t know how much Disney screens for personality or ethics when they cast—and I really don’t know how they could go too far in that direction given that simply casting the best actor for each role is their main focus—but I can’t help but feel that the process of being a young professional actor helps to create the conditions for these amazing young people.
The point? Young actors can’t know whether their efforts will bring them the success they desire. They pursue the work because they love it, and despite the daunting odds. Most will not ultimately succeed at making a living as an actor (though many will). But the lessons they learn in the process of the pursuit will last them all of their lives, and equip them for anything they encounter or pursue.
If my kid never worked again as an actor, but walked away with the skills/traits on the list above—I’d feel good about the time we spent pursuing this path. The lessons are part of the journey. And they can make for an amazing education for life, wherever it takes you.
My book, The Hollywood Parents Guide, available on Amazon contains everything I wish I’d known when Dove and I started this journey, and will save you untold amounts of time, money, and stress. Full of information you MUST know, it also features stories from parents of other kids who’ve made it!
Or book an hour consulting with me to come up with an individualized plan that takes your own unique needs into account. For about the cost of an hour with a professional acting coach, you can get your questions answered and a road map to help you move forward toward your dream.
Invest a little in your kid’s future today.
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