You can’t approach the career of a child actor like your own.
Many of us approach what we want with classic goal-setting strategies, which often works in other parts of our lives.
One of the most challenging parts of being an actor in general—and being a child actor, or the parent of one, in particular—is just how much of the process is out of your control. Goal setting only gets you so far.
This can either make you crazy, or make you an apprentice Zen Master over time.
As a self-identified control-freak, this lack of control was one of the biggest hurdles for me personally, and I truly empathize with the frustrations of any parent of a young actor as they do their part, and then wait for the universe to step up and do its part.
Does this mean you should give up? Or move to a strategy of vision-boards and affirmations?
I’m a fan of vision boards and affirmations, as well as goal setting. But much of what it takes to be successful in this industry boils down to what looks a lot like simple patience.
There is a LOT you can do to help your child become a professional actor. And many of these things can be managed with traditional goal-setting techniques. Make a list of everything you know you need to do to help them. It might look something like this:
- Enroll in acting classes
- Enroll in any other relevant classes (dance/voice etc.)
- Educate yourself as much as possible about how the industry works so you can make the most informed choices
- Get new headshots
- Update resume
- Join Backstage, or Actors Access
- Reserve all basic social media domains (even if you’re not ready to use yet)
- Find (and sign with) a good agent when your young actor is ready
- Find an entertainment lawyer to call on for contract review
- Get a work permit and Coogan account if your state requires it
- Set up your schedule for flexibility to accommodate auditions, acting work
- Possible relocation to be closer to where most casting happens (i.e. LA)
These things are all quite doable. Finding and signing with a good agent is perhaps the most challenging goal (next to relocation if you decide to do that too), but with persistence it’s achievable.
The REST of the equation is largely out of your hands, however.
Some of it’s in your child’s hands: how hard they are willing to work for their dream translates into how much time they want to spend preparing for auditions, practicing for acting class, dance or voice class, or theatre rehearsals. If they truly love this work it won’t feel like work to them and they will naturally just want to practice. The more they practice, the better they get.
If you have to spend a lot of time and energy pushing them to practice, you may want to check to see if it’s you who wants this more than they do, or if they’re doing it more to please you than for themselves. Sometimes a kid starts out loving a particular thing and then grows out of the interest. If this happens, it’s a good idea to gracefully let it go so they can be free to pursue a new dream.
But if it’s quite clear that your child wants to act more than anything else, and you have done everything in your power to set them up for success, you still face the challenging truth that the rest of the adventure is not in your control. Which is why I call it an adventure!
NOT in your control:
- Which projects are casting at any given time, and whether there are any roles that your child might be a fit for (this can vary wildly season to season)
- Whether and when your child is ready to compete professionally
- Whether your agent can actually get your child an audition for a particular role (this is not a given just because you have an agent. Audition slots are always limited)
- What the casting directors/producers really want for a specific role, even if your child technically fits the description
- Whether your kid is too tall or short, too light or dark, too quirky or not quirky enough, looks too much or not enough like the lead, etc.
- Who else your child is competing with for a given role
- The chemistry between your child and the other actors who may be in a project
- Whether the producers want a “name” for a role, or whether they are open or possibly even seeking a newcomer
The list goes on, but at a certain point if you let yourself focus on it you can just become frozen with a sense of impossibility. Which definitely works against success!
It clearly IS possible for young actors to succeed in Hollywood—they do every day. And everyone, even “name” actors, begins as unknowns.
So how to approach something where so much of success is out of your hands?
- Do everything that you CAN control well, and with integrity. There is a LOT you CAN control. This includes educating yourself about the industry so you can make good choices.
- Do what works for you in terms of envisioning success (vision boards, affirmation, prayer, etc.)
- Then let go of the outcome and trust that the right things will happen.
Letting go of a sense of attachment to the outcome is critical to your happiness (and to your kid’s if you are the parent of a young actor). It helps you stay present in the moment, instead of caught up in the past or the future. It makes for better auditions because if you go in with faith that the right thing will happen, you won’t be nervous.
Most importantly though, letting go of attachment to specific outcomes frees you to have faith and expectation that events will unfold as they are meant to for the highest good.
This faith, if you cultivate it, can get you through the challenging days, and the 100 auditions it may take before that wonderful phone call: “You got the role!”
Which then helps you get the next role, and then the next. And makes for a much more enjoyable adventure along the way.
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 a session 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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