Most, if not all, of the young actors we know today as stars of Disney shows were never aiming for Disney. They were putting themselves out in the world because they loved to perform. Their agents sent them out for every project that looked appropriate, and if they were fortunate, they were cast… and one day, for each of them, it was a Disney project.
When Dove and I arrived in LA, we were expecting her to end up in films and dramas, because we knew this was her strong suit. She actually made it to callbacks on several different Disney pilots—none of which resulted in being cast for a role– before asking her agent to stop sending her out for Disney projects, because they didn’t seem to “get” her, and she didn’t feel comfortable in comedy. But one day a script showed up that was compelling, and she auditioned for a set of casting directors who had never seen her. THEY seemed to “get” her, and think she was funny as well. And then everything changed.
If after reading these two posts it still makes sense to you to try and get your kid onto a Disney show, there are a few more things to know:
- Disney does not charge a fee for auditions. Anyone who says otherwise is scamming you. Scams for Disney casting are rampant. Please be careful.
- Disney Channel casts its shows almost entirely in Los Angeles through independent casting directors. The corporation only gets involved when casting for leads or regular characters in a new series, or for a DCOM (Disney Channel Original Movie, such as High School Musical or Disney Descendants). Then it is the executives like Judy Taylor who engage at a supervisory level. Once a year or so they will hold an open casting call. The ONLY website where this information is reliably posted is https://disneynow.com/disneychanneltalentsearch.
- Disney is not affiliated with any acting workshops, schools, or boot camps.
- Anyone who has worked for Disney in the past, or been on one of their many shows, or knows someone who works at The Walt Disney Company or Disney Channel has no special ability to help your child get an audition. Including me!
- While it is true that casting for a new show happens only once—and then the leads and series regulars are essentially set—there is ongoing casting for guest star roles when a show is filming. This process happens very quickly—generally within a week or less of shooting. The following week’s script is sent to the show’s casting directors who create the breakdown for whichever additional character/s are needed that week, and the call goes out to agents, who submit their clients who might fit the description/s. Auditions are held in LA at the offices of the independent casting director (here is an example of where remote taped auditions won’t work) and the process is finished within a day or so. In other words, to be a guest star on a Disney Channel show you essentially must be living in the LA area, have an agent who will submit your child for the appropriate auditions, and be able to jump quickly.
- Legitimate casting director contact information for Disney Channel shows—as well as ALL current television and film—can be found at CastingAbout.com for around $40/year per region (Los Angeles, New York, etc) or $10/month. This gives you a very broad opportunity to send your child’s headshot and resume directly to the right people. However it still does not tell you what they are looking for in a given episode, so the normal channels are still highly recommended. It doesn’t help a casting director to see the headshot and resume of your eight-year-old blonde daughter when they are looking for a twelve-year-old Asian boy that week. Get an agent, who can submit your child to the people who are looking for their type, WHEN they are looking. Which at least begins to get you into the field of possibility for an audition.
Good luck! Disney is the platform through which many young actors get their start, and has opportunities for young performers like none other. It can be life-changing. Just remember that your child’s best shot at being picked up by the Disney Channel will happen when they are pursuing a career as a performer on ALL fronts, and not just that one!
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!
If your young actor is 12 or older, they will enjoy reading my second book, Young Hollywood Actors, which shares inspirational stories and advice from some of their favorite performers.
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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