Some factors that affect your decision on how to manage the effort to support your child in their dream of becoming a professional actor:
- How old is the child (or children)?
- What exactly is their goal?
- Could this be accomplished from home?
- Do you have objective, professional support for the decision to pursue this? In other words, is there anyone relevant beside you and your child who believes that this is a financial risk worth taking? Credible mentors?
- What are your resources, and how much of them are you willing to sacrifice for this effort?
- Is the entire family in agreement that this is a good direction to go, whether it entails a temporary split or a full move?
- Can you create an agreement about what should trigger a retreat, either temporary or permanent?
There are many creative ways to get yourself and your child to LA and give them the opportunity to chase their dream. Some people have friends or family that they can stay with temporarily. While I doubt that most people can crash with someone else long enough to get their child actually established, it may be that you can couch surf long enough to know whether or not to take the next steps to the pursuit.
Some people use their summer vacation as a time to try to get established in LA and see if staying might make sense. This works from a child’s school schedule standpoint, but it’s less than ideal from an industry standpoint. Yes, things are casting all year round now—but June is a pretty quiet month, July much of the town is on vacation, and August is the just the beginning of the episodic casting season. You could actually spend much of that summer break just trying to get a meeting with the right agent!
On the other hand, if you are highly organized and connected, you could set up a series of appointments before you even arrive, and have your child signed with an agency (hopefully a good one, not just “any” one) within a few weeks. If you are really lucky your child might be sent out on enough auditions for you both to know whether that is an activity that you are willing to make sacrifices for to continue. Remember, for most actors at any age, auditioning is their primary pursuit. Is it fun? Is your child learning and improving? Or is it more stressful and unrewarding than you had anticipated? Making some kind of a trial run before committing more deeply might be prudent.
Some kids even end up living with their agents or managers for a time while their families remain back home. This can happen when one or both parents have a job that can’t be moved, or other children who can’t be brought out to LA without tremendous disruption. I’ve talked to a number of people who have done this, and the stories range from sweet and really impressive, to outright horror stories ending in prosecution for child exploitation. Really. Personally, I can’t imagine leaving my kid to live with someone else. I know other kids whose parents ran out of time and money and needed to go back home when the kids were sixteen or seventeen, and the kids were left to make it on their own. While fending for themselves in this town can work for a small percentage of incredibly mature kids, many end up with serious scars, or worse. Even eighteen is very young to be on your own here. Think long and hard before leaving your child in a vulnerable position, either on their own, or with someone else.
Giving your child a shot at their dream is something every parent would love to be able to do. Few dreams—except perhaps training for the Olympics– have the crazy financial and time requirements that this one does. And few dreams have worse odds. Be realistic and honest with your child with what you can and can’t do to support their dream of becoming an actor. Worst case scenario, they have to wait until they are old enough to pursue the dream on their own. But this might be better than losing everything—finances, marriage, and even your relationship with your kid if things go badly.
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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