Ah, the sweet siren’s call of the entertainment industry. Parents feel the pull and think that either their kid is going to be “discovered” or they can spend thousands of dollars on one of those companies and receive millions in return. The truth is, those routes RARELY get your child stardom. And if you’re looking to get your child famous, you honestly shouldn’t be in this business. At all.
I deal with parents, children, talent agents, casting directors and such on a daily basis. I have at least three people on my talent roster working every single day. I’m currently working on three movies and 17 television shows, not to mention the odd commercial or print job that comes across my desk. I know what I’m doing. I have removed children from my talent roster because their parents got in the way.
In this article, I’m going to share some of the most common questions that I am asked, as well as the answers that people want to hear, followed by the truth.
Should you ever pay to get your child an agent?
What people want to hear: Yes. Spend as much money as you possibly can, so that people notice your kid. They will think that you have enough money to already belong with Hollywood’s elite and will put your child in a starring role immediately.
The truth: Honestly, it depends. You should NOT spend money for required head shots, photographs and/or classes so that an “agency” will cast your child. Talent agents and managers receive at least 10% of whatever your child earns in something that they book for them. Sometimes, production companies pay 10% directly to the agent or manager on top of the talent’s earnings, which shouldn’t affect what your child earns. On a personal note, I have a $50 upfront fee when people register with my company. Why? Because people are idiots. I have cast people with me on TV shows that are not registered with my company, and they never showed up nor even called me. It makes me look REALLY bad. Because of that $50 fee, I don’t earn my 10% until the person registered earns $750. (Do the math… You’re saving $25.)
Does my child need professional photos done?
What people want to hear: Yes! Make your child look as cute as possible, with makeup and props and everything you can! Spend at least $1000 on these photos and editing, to make sure your child looks the best.
The truth: Absolutely not. I’ve cast children from pictures off of their parents’ iPhones. I had a professional photographer do head shots for $10 per person, edited and on a CD, specifically because I needed the tools to get more attention. The photos were taken in my backyard.
Can my child join the union?
What people want to hear: Yes! And it’s FREE!
The truth: Yes, but it isn’t recommended until they absolutely HAVE to. If your child is 14 or older and earns three SAG-AFTRA vouchers, he or she MUST join the union. If they are under the age of 14, they do not have to join. If your child is in the union, they CANNOT do any non-union work. Oh, by the way, it costs $3000 to join SAG-AFTRA. For everyone. No matter what their age. But, they good thing is that you’re a member for life once you join, as long as you pay your union dues each year ($198 minimum).
Does my child need classes?
What people want to hear: No! Your child is PERFECT and has natural abilities.
The truth: Yes. It’s a good idea to get your child into a workshop, but not overkill with classes. They should be prepared for what to expect at an audition or interview. If they’re cast from photos, they should be prepared for what to expect on a set.
Should I cut my child’s hair before a shoot?
What people want to hear: Yes! Make them look as perfect as you can!
The truth: OhmyGod, NO. NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!! If you alter your child’s appearance before a shoot, the director will be furious because they do not look like their picture. If you ever alter your child’s appearance, take new pictures (on your iPhone, sure) and get them to your manager immediately!
Here’s the thing, folks: You can’t GET your child famous. If you’re in the business to make your kid a star, you’re either going to fail miserably or create the next Lindsay Lohan. I started my company to help parents and children earn money for their college funds. I won’t work with people that want to make their kids stars– No one will, actually.
Well, no one legit…
The bottom line is this: if you’re looking to make your kid a star, you should look for a good child psychologist, too. Your child isn’t a tool to make money. Don’t live vicariously through your child. Let them have their own live. Sure, it’s fun to be on set with them… But don’t be a momager. Find someone who knows what they are doing so that you can avoid all of the traps.