As a model and a mom, I’m often approached by parents who are interested in getting their child in commercials or in print ads, but have no idea how to get started. I was fortunate enough to be in the industry and know all the ins and outs. I was able to work with my own son for some of the jobs I booked and he’s also done some work on his own. Here are some tips that might help you get your child started.
First and foremost, make sure that modeling or acting is something that your child enjoys. A whining, crying child on set isn’t going to be very productive and might not get booked again, because time is money. If your child rather play with toys or go to the park instead, don’t force him to model, and just let him be a kid. My child told me that he didn’t want to do it anymore. He just wanted to go to school, hang with his friend and do what all kids do. This was fine with me, and if he told me tomorrow that he wanted to start up again, it would be fine too.
Getting your child a trustworthy agent is the first step in the right direction. Look online or search the Yellow Pages to find some local modeling agencies. Initially, they might not advertise that they also represent children, but a call to the agency, or further research by going to their website, can quickly let you know whether they do.
To get an agent to see your child, find out about their submission process. Most agents have a set process for accepting submissions for new representation. This might be an open call one day a week, where parents can bring their kids to the agency so they can get seen and considered for possible representation. Some agencies require that you mail in some photos of your child, and if they’re interested, they’ll contact you. If they aren’t interested, you most likely won’t hear anything back from them. This is not because they’re being rude, it’s just that agents are often overwhelmed with submissions and can’t respond to each and every one of them.
You might wonder what kinds of photos to submit to an agency that you’re considering. Not to worry, agencies generally don’t expect children to have a full portfolio of professional photos. Some cute snapshots taken with your own camera will do. Make sure you take a few close up head shots of your child, some three-quarter shots and full-body shots. The agent should be able to clearly see what your child looks like. Write your child’s name on the back of each photo together with your contact information. Along with the photos, write a short cover letter stating that you’re seeking representation. Include your child’s vital statistics in the letter. Mention his his height, weight and hair and eye color. Also include any special skills your child has. For instance, mention what sports he’s good in and whether he can ride a bike, and read or write.
Getting your child on TV, in store advertisements or in print ads should not require a large financial investment. If you get invited to see an agent and they ask you to pay them to represent your child, or if they ask you to pay for an extensive photo shoot of your child, walk the other way, because this is most likely a scam. An agent should never make money unless the client they represent makes money. The agent works for you, or in this case, for your child. He only gets a small percentage of the money you’re child makes. Especially with kids, having just a few snapshots that are blown up to 8 by 10s is often enough to get them started.
Once your child has a reputable agent, he will submit him for possible jobs. He might get called in to audition for these jobs. You’ll have to get him to the audition and make sure you have some of his head shots with you. Depending on what the audition is for, your child might be directed to pose a certain way in front of the camera, or he might have to say a few lines, which is often the case for commercial auditions. If they like your child, they might want to see him again and he might get a callback. Sometimes there’s even a third callback, before the client makes his final decision on who to hire for the job.