Before you even begin to try to get your kid in front of a talent agent, you need to set a few things up.
At the bare minimum, your child should have SOME kind of training and/or experience. While there are probably many agents out there who are willing to represent a kid with no experience or training whatsoever, please understand that these are not the kind of agents with any leverage in the industry.
When you actually consider the meaning of the word “representation,” the issue of what exactly is at stake with an agent becomes a little clearer. An agent’s primary currency is their reputation. They represent your child, but your child represents them too. “Representing” works both ways. So literally, every audition your kid goes out on, they are representing the faith that their agent has in them.
If an agent consistently sends out actors who are prepared, easy to direct, easy to work with, and excellent at their craft, their reputation is secure and when they pitch a client for a project they are likely to get a good response. The reverse is also true.
So now you can understand a little better why a good agent is SO careful about the clients they choose to represent. In addition to this basic issue, there is the issue of balancing out their portfolio. If they have a bunch of kids who all fall into the same category in terms of looks or age or types, that does no one any favors. They need to have a good mix so that all of their clients get a fair chance at projects, and they also have someone for everybody.
This sometimes means that an agent will pass on representing your child just because they already have your child’s “type” covered. This can be disappointing, but it is ultimately in everyone’s best interest.
It’s a good idea to get set up with some basic casting sites before you approach an agent as well.
The most widely used are Actor’s Access, Backstage, and Casting Networks. It’s a pretty easy process to register and upload a couple of headshots and your child’s resume, and fill out a form to list their special skills.
This shows the agent that your child has a presence in the industry, as well as giving you the opportunity to learn about lower level auditions and get your kid out for some auditioning experience—and maybe even some work experience!
Of course you already have a headshot and resume for your child, right? Don’t even think about approaching an agent without these. Understand however that it is likely that once you succeed in getting an agent, they will probably request that your child get new headshots! And they will help you reformat your resume. All of which is part of the process.
What else do you need?
Your child will need a couple of monologues they have memorized—one drama, one comedy. It is a weird truth that in the world of television and film, this is the only time your kid will need to come with their own material, but it does make sense—after all, going forward, they will be auditioning for a specific role and that role will have sides. Finding a couple of great monologues can be challenging, so this is good news.
Where can you find good monologues? I’ve often thought I might put together a book of them because we had such a hard time finding ones that we liked. There are a few collections out there but not as many as there should be. The majority of monologue books are written for adults, and most of the few that are for kids are so tired! That being said, I like Magnificent Monologues for Kids, and Magnificent Monologues for Teens by Chambers Stevens.
Check out my updated Resources Page for more recommended monologue books, as well as some other important resources for young actors and parents.
Sometimes an effective place to look is simply online. Google key words like “monologues” and “children” and see what pops up. The monologue can come from a play, film, or TV script. It doesn’t matter. Some of the most interesting ones can come from fiction. Just make sure there is no description, etc, to interrupt the monologue’s flow. And do try to make the monologues age-appropriate.
Confession: Dove auditioned for her agent Pamela Fisher with Meryl Streep’s “Stuff” monologue from The Devil Wears Prada. NOT recommended!!! Looking back, I can’t imagine how crazy it must have looked to Pamela to see a fourteen-year-old girl performing a role written for a middle-aged woman! Luckily, she was able to see the talent through the very odd choice.
If your child can sing, it’s a good idea to have them prepare a song as well. Kids who can do more than just act—particularly the classic “triple threats” who can act, sing, and dance—are simply more marketable. Singing along to a karaoke track should be fine in most agents offices, although a capella is always OK. Things get a little trickier when you are auditioning for a particular role: in those cases they will tell you what your child needs to prepare, and it often looks more like several bars of a song along with sheet music for an accompanist.
Do you need to set up a Coogan Account or work permit before trying to get an agent? Absolutely not. But both are free to set up, and if you are helping your child get comfortable auditioning by going out on auditions listed through Actors Access and/or Casting Networks, you should have these things done. If your kid books a role the producers will expect the paperwork to be in order.
It can take time to find the right agent to represent your child, but it is absolutely worth it to get the right person. Kids grow so quickly—don’t compromise on a questionable agent just to have one. Hold out for a great fit.
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.
If your young actor is 12 or older, they will enjoy reading my second book, Young Hollywood Actors, which shares stories and advice from some of their favorite performers.
Invest a little in your kid’s future today.
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