My child is stuck in the body of an actor!
In San Francisco I worked for one of the top casting directors. I was that girl that greeted you, made sure you signed in, gave you sides, if there were any, and encouraged you to look at the storyboard. I loved it!
However, as much as I loved it, I saw some things I didn’t love.
QUESTIONS: How can I encourage my child actor to have more consistent auditions? At times she is great, other times her performance energy is very low. Things like making sure she is well rested and well fed are always a given. I don’t know if it is mood, but I don’t want her inconsistencies to affect her reputation. She says she loves to act and wants to be an actress. I try not to be pushy. Is there anything I can do?
ACTORS: YES, there is one very important thing you can do and that is to ask your daughter why she wants to act.
When I teach my on-camera TV commercial workshops, I always ask my students why they want to act. More often than not, I hear, “I want to be famous, have great clothes, make lots of money, buy my mom a house, be on the cover of a magazine.” Honestly, I rarely hear a young actor say, “This is all I want to do, I want to know what it feels like to portray another character, I want to help other’s feel their emotions, I eat, sleep and drink acting!”
Next, I ask what they love about school and if they see themselves doing anything other than acting and it sounds something like this, “I want to be a marine biologist, a fireman, a doctor, a brain surgeon, a jockey, a chef, a baker.”
And I smile… because I hear passion.
I want you to think back to when you were six, seven, or even eleven. What did you want to do more than anything? Can you remember? Are you living it?
If not, why?
My brother always knew he was going to be an architect when he was around five and that is exactly what he is doing today.
I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. Ironically, I am going to be teaching kindergarten… in a way. When my book is released, I will be speaking, sharing and teaching that it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.
Sometimes, things have to come back full-circle in order for us to understand that adversity was setting us up for our purpose.
Children get this great opportunity to explore what they want to do by playing and discovering their natural talents without the added responsibility of paying bills! Remember those days?!
Your situation sounds as if your daughter expressed interest in acting and you chose to support her interest. But, interests can change. And change needs to feel welcomed by the parent.
Otherwise, a child can end up doing what they felt their mother or father wanted them to do and they become very successfully unhappy! Their outer riches steal their inner wealth of happiness; the true reason they are here.
Let me share what I saw in the audition room, that I didn’t love to see.
I was working the front desk and it was getting crowded with parents and their children when this little boy came over to me and asked if he could sit on my lap. I said sure and then asked him where his mother was? He told me that she was waiting downstairs because she was mad at him and he didn’t want his mother to be mad anymore so he had to be good and audition.
He started to cry. My heart broke; this boy didn’t want to act.
Another time I was walking in the audition room with a little girl that was to play my daughter. Well, she was a kicking and a screaming and hanging onto her father. I loved what the casting director told the father, “There will be another time, don’t worry about it, kids are kids.” Well, this father got very anxious, “This is the first time I have taken her to an audition, my wife usually takes her and she’ll be so upset at me if she doesn’t do this audition.” The casting director told him in a very nice way, “not today.”
Once again, I felt for this little girl and her helpless father! I was sure when he got home it was not going to be a welcoming homecoming!
Now, I am not implying, at all, that this is what you are doing. As you mentioned, you try not to be pushy. But, does your daughter know this?
This is key. Children need to know that if they say “no” to acting, mommy or daddy are not going to get mad. This could be a reason why she is not consistent. Her heart really is not into it. You had also mentioned that you were not sure if your daughter likes the idea of being an actor more than being an actor. And I get that! The idea sounds so glamorous, the reality is not! It’s a lot of work, time and commitment. Acting can take you out of school and away from friends.
Again, I would ask her why she wants to act, letting her know there is no right or wrong answer, so she can really speak her truth.
She can always try new things and come back to acting.
I started acting professionally at twenty-eight!
You may not know the name, Clara Pellar, but you may remember her famous line from a Wendy’s commercial, “Where’s the beef!” She started acting at the ripe age of 81!
My point is… life is to be enjoyed… at every step.
Having said that, if you find out that your daughter really does want to act then the best way to support her is to let her know if she ever changes her mind, that it’s okay and you will support her in the next adventure. But for now, you will support her in the steps she needs to take to act.
All actors have off-days; you just don’t want to be consistently off. So, I ask you, how do you know she is not consistent? Are you getting feedback from her agent, the casting director or from your daughter?
If you truly believe your daughter is consistently inconsistent, the first thing I would do is ask her agent if they have any suggestions.
Since you also mentioned that she does well with her coach, then perhaps her coach could create mock auditions, in order to help build her confidence in the casting room.
I also believe getting involved in the acting community does wonders for an actor’s confidence. Get in a great acting class where she can network with other actors or better yet, get in a local play! For me, the stage trained me faster than any class and built my love for acting.
Just two days ago I met a first-time mom carrying her nine-month old daughter. I mentioned how beautiful she was and that she had the face of a Gerber baby.
She laughed and told me that she is already in all the GAP ads.
We got talking about the business and she shared that just the other day she was driving to a fairly big audition when her little girl became very unhappy, so she automatically turned the car around and went home. She heard that the producers were really upset, but it didn’t matter, what mattered was her little girl.
It’s that simple.
Be more concerned for your child’s happiness than their reputation.
Go to my facebook page, Questions & Actors, click LIKE and start communicating with fellow actors and parents!