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8 Ways to Prepare Your Child Actor for the School Year

Updated: Sep 3, 2019

By Denise Simon | September 3, 2019 7:00 AM | www.backstage.com

January may be the start of the calendar year, but September is the real new year for children and teens. As your child heads back to school, they should also prepare for the new opportunities that await them in television, theater, and film. Proper planning sets a good precedent and keeps your child grounded. 


To have a successful year, and stay sane, use these planning tips in September.


1. Set a budget.  Supporting your child’s dream comes at a cost like any other passion. Training, transportation, travel, materials, equipment, and business fees all add up. Don’t forget to add in applicable fees for childcare for other children at home and account for missed days at work for you. Professional acting doesn’t come cheap, but the benefits gained for your child and family can be life-changing. 


2. Prepare for missed school days.  Although most auditions take place after school, there may also be days missed for early auditions, rehearsals, and matinee performances. Landing a job on the road will also take your child out of their regular school for some time. Talk with your child’s principal now to let them know your child is a working professional. Inform him that some professional absences may be required. If your child is fortunate enough to get work, it will require coordination with the school and tutoring company. If there are too many missed days or the school is giving you a hard time, consider alternative schooling options. Remember, there are ways you can help your child stay on top of their schoolwork.


3. Update your marketing tools. In today’s competitive market, your child must be prepared with the proper marketing tools. Children are continually growing and changing, so make sure to update their headshot. Ensure that the headshot reflects who they are now. Have electronic and hardcopy headshots ready to go along with a current updated résumé including their actual height. If your child doesn’t have demo reel footage, now is the time to put a reel together. 


4. Invest in self-taping equipment. Be prepared to submit video auditions with little notice. You can use a high-quality smartphone or camera mounted on a tripod to create these videos. Invest in proper lighting and a plain pop up backdrop if you don’t have a solid, clean wall. Open a Hightail, WeTransfer, or DropBox account to submit the video files as most videos are too large to email. 


5. Refresh audition materials.  Just as headshots are your child’s business cards, audition materials such as monologues and songs are the portfolio. September is the perfect time to update and refresh all audition materials, including monologues and songs. I recommend two monologues and three or four songs in different styles. Prepare just the first 16 bars of each song.


6. Get work permits. Minors who are engaged in professional work activities are required to obtain a work permit to ensure that their employment does not harm their health or education. Work permits are generally issued by a state’s department of labor and last six months. Apply now, so you have the permit ready to go for last-minute bookings. You will need a birth certificate and documentation of satisfactory school attendance, school performance, and health signed by a principal or school administrator.


7. Keep up with training.  Training is an essential element of your child’s acting career. This is a competitive business where luck, talent, and opportunity meet. Having the right look for a role is important, but talent always wins out. I believe weekly and ongoing training is essential for a child’s artistic growth. Most acting teachers and coaches begin new classes each fall. Ask your agent or manager, a friend, or online for acting classes that suit your child’s personality and schedule. Sign up for classes early as many good ones will sell out. 


8. Find the right balance.  As you begin to fill up your busy child’s schedule, make room for other activities unrelated to show business for fun and personal growth. Plan for family time and downtime. When you help your young actor create balance, you are reminding them that there are other significant things in life besides getting the part. 


By doing this, you can ensure you and your child have a fantastic new school year and fall audition season! 

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