Many successful actors got their start while they were children. Becoming a successful actor can be a long and difficult process, and many experienced actors want to share their secrets with child actors. Many of these tips are hard-won and represented significant stumbling blocks for adult actors. Letting your child be mentored by an experienced actor is a great way to absorb this information firsthand.
Managing your child’s acting career can lead just as easily to success or failure. Parents who are careful with their children’s careers are more likely to encourage success. Brian Posen, a renowned comedy instructor at The Second City, shares his advice for his young counterparts, pointing out pitfalls that may happen along the way.
- Be Confident
When your child walks into the audition room, they need to be confident. Their outward appearance must match their inner thoughts. If a child feels withdrawn or unsure, this will show through in their acting. Acting is all about carrying themselves well. It extends to their attitude toward the audition and toward the piece they are presenting. If they are proud of themselves and stand tall, this will go a long way toward encouraging their success. You may want to consider giving your child a modeling class to teach them the basics of body awareness even when they do not feel 100% confident about the audition.
- Take Direction
When your child enters an audition or a rehearsal, they need to be able to take direction. If they can’t make adjustments based on their director’s expectations, it is likely that they will fail in their work. Being able to take direction means setting their egos aside and working toward the director’s vision of the part rather than their own. If a child can’t take direction, it is likely that they will not be hired in the future.
Even young child actors must understand that they are in the business to please someone else. They can’t necessarily go in with their own ideas and attitude about what the part should be. They need to take a step back from their own accomplishments and be sure that they can fit into an existing idea.
No one will enjoy your child’s performance if they can’t understand them. It is a good idea to practice tongue twisters and other enunciation exercises. If a child can’t articulate themselves, it is possible that they will not be able to receive any work. Giving articulation an honest try will count with many directors. Most directors are willing to work with child actors until they have developed their skills, but some are very impatient and are not able to spend the necessary time getting a child ready to act on the stage or screen.
- Be Over-The-Top
Standing out is hugely important when it comes to child actors. If your child is tentative and conservative, they will not stand out in the large audition pool. Your child needs to feel free to express themselves and to go the extra mile where the role is concerned. Giving your child the freedom to express themselves can be challenging because parents always want their child to be perfect. It is better to take risks than to sit back and let the roles come. Directors will always be interested in children who can push their comfort zones.
When a child is doing an audition, make sure that they have a good idea of what they need to do to get the part. Not all parents are experienced in acting, meaning that they need to find outside advice for their children. This is nothing to be ashamed of. Following your child’s acting dream may mean that you are pressed into situations which you would not have imagined.
- Be Real
Child actors need to remember to be realistic. They need to have the intellectual maturity to put themselves into someone else’s shoes. This can happen as early as four or five if they have the correct attitude toward acting. Being someone else requires a certain level of detachment from their daily lives. Children who have a rich fantasy life or are able to imagine themselves in different situations have an easier time when they are learning to act. Children who don’t have a natural sense of creativity may find it more difficult to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
- Professional Coaching
Unless your child is involved with community theater or school productions, they will need a professional coach. Even parents with acting backgrounds may not be able to get the level of performance they would wish out of a child actor. Parents are diligent about putting their child on sports teams in order to gain skills. There is no reason why parents of child actors should skip putting their children on the same level.
- Listen to your Child
You must have an appreciation of how much your children love to act. If they are not pushing themselves to better performances, it is possible that they are acting only to please you. In order to be successful, a child actor’s motivation must come from within. Pushing acting on a child will only lead to stilted performances. Directors will be able to see that a child doesn’t actually want to be involved in their production. Parents need to be clear-headed about whether their ambition for their child’s acting career comes from the child themselves or whether it is imposed upon them by the parents.
All of these 7 tips, when taken together, can ensure success from your child actor. Brian Posen encourages parents to make sure that they are fulfilling the child’s own dream, not the parents’ conception. When children are excited about their acting, they can create better characters and become more desirable to casting directors.