When I ask other parents of young actors if they had a background themselves in performing, I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the answer is frequently “yes.” This makes a lot of sense—if we are made up of a combination of both nature and nurture, many of these kids got it from both sides of that equation. In our case, Dove grew up watching me perform in community theatre, helping me memorize lines, and hanging out backstage.
The upside to being a performer yourself is that you often have a better sense of whether your child might really have what it takes to make it professionally. The downside: you run the very real danger of projecting unfinished dreams onto your kids.
This isn’t an issue that belongs solely to acting, or solely to parents. The world is full of people who pursued one profession or another because they felt it would make their parents happy. Kids often unconsciously pick up cues from their parents—especially the one they most identify with—and decide to follow in their footsteps, or complete a journey that was never finished.
1) Pay close attention to why your kid wants to be an actor—is it to please you? Make sure they know that you will love them regardless of what they do for a living, or how successful they become.
A bigger problem in my eyes is the relentless glamorization of fame in our culture. The number of kids I’ve talked to who say they want to be an actor—but who have never once taken an acting lesson, been in a play, done extras work, or had a single audition—astounds me. They have no idea what it takes, or if they even like it, or might be good enough that they’d be hired. All they see is the fame, and its accessories: red carpets, magazine covers, imagined riches. What they don’t see: the often hundreds of auditions, years of acting lessons, and disappointments before something finally happens, if it does. And they definitely don’t see the many thousands of hopefuls who flock to Los Angeles every year in hopes of making it—and the thousands more who finally give up the dream each year.
2) Is your child more in love with their idea of fame than with the actual art of acting?
This is not meant to discourage you, or your child, from what might be the adventure of a lifetime. It is however, meant to be a reality check. Professional acting is not for the faint of heart. If your child wants to be an actor more than anything else but has no experience or training, help them get some of both before you take the leap and try the big markets. You may both discover that they are in love more with the idea of being an actor than with the work itself. But if after some lessons and experience they are more passionate than ever—and you see evidence for a consistent work ethic and choosing the commitment of lessons and rehearsals over other pursuits—you can consider a move, or an exploratory trip—to Los Angeles.
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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