Child Actors or Models - Any Advice?

Updated on June 02, 2008
C.B. asks from Long Beach, CA
8 answers

So, we've been hearing it for awhile that we should get our little one into commercials or modeling. Now that he's 2.5 we decided to give it a shot because we realized that if things go well, we can really help to secure his future (something that's been really hard to do right now with all the bills we have to pay). So, we sent out photo's to agencies and the next day we received 3 responses from reputable talent agencies in L.A. (I know this, because I used to be an executive assistant to a talent agent back in my hey-day). When I worked in the entertainment business, I worked with adults, so this part of the business in pretty new to me.

So, my question is...Has anyone done this before with a child this young? If so, can you tell me what to expect during our first agent meetings? We have one this week and two next week...Any special advice?

Any feedback would help, thanks!

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answers from Los Angeles on

They'll want pictures.

You choose types of ads -- print, TV, movies, etc.

They call several kids to a shoot. The one that behaves/performs gets paid.



answers from Los Angeles on

I couldn't say it better than Elena!
Yes, life is getting harder for almost all of us. I am one of the Real Estate chaos victims - that we just became welfare recipients. However, the responsibility to secure my almost 3 years old son's future is in my hands - not his. Enjoying each other is PRICELESS!!!



answers from Los Angeles on

You do realize that acting and modeling is not play? It is hard work. Are you sure you want to put your 2 1/2 year old to *work?* I have worked in the industry for a long time and my least favorite part is when I have to work with kids.

You are your son's mommy. It is your job to protect him and 2 1/2 is too young for him to speak up for himself. He has the rest of his life to "secure his future." He only has one childhood.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi C.,

My daughter had Abrams for her commercial agent and Ford Models for her print agent. While it was fun in the beginning, it is ALOT of hard work. My daughter was 4 when she started so of course was able to voice her thoughts more than a 2.5 yr old. Depending on where you live, just one audition could take up the whole day because they are always in Hollywood, Santa Monica, etc. It'll take you 45min - 1 hour to get there, the wait to audition could take a couple of hours and then the drive home in traffic. The wait is horrible, and at 2 1/2 he may start to get bored and tired and then when it comes time for him to audition he's cranky. I say wait until he becomes a little older like maybe 5-6 and by then you'll know if HE really wants to do it. It's alot for any kid to handle, but being that young he still requires naps, playtime, etc. I stopped taking my daughter when she started school because I didn't want her missing a whole day of school for one audition. It was great while it lasted but just way too much work.

Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

I have both of my sons in acting. AJ 9 and Kai 4. Kai we started when he was 3. Both of them are represented by ABRAMS. He was so outgoing and friendly that everyone told us he should be an actor. I highly reccomend putting him in acting classes. We go to Pamela Campus. She has classes in Orange County and in LA. She has a great on camera technique. Her kids get jobs. Kai has been in her beginning and advanced classes. It really helped him because in his audition with the agency they gave him a commercial top read and it was one that he learned in his acting class. He aced the audition. Also look into getting headshots done. Be aware of people trying to get you to spend money upfront. They have so called "packages". Every actor DOES pay for his own training, photos, etc. No reputable agency will ever ask for money upfront. Hope that helps.

C. A
Long Beach CA



answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter's first sentence was "I want to be on TV" I put it off until she was 9, because of all the reasons listed below... Sometimes I am glad I did so, and sometimes I am not...

I do think that getting into something like this should be driven by the child, not the parent, and definitely not by a whole lot of people saying they should be a model or an actor or whatever they are saying... These are not people who know your child, so it is not always a good idea to trust their judgement on whether he'd be good or not...

However, your question was about what to expect at an agent meeting, so let's stick to that for a minute... At that age, an agent is looking for a good spirited, precocious, but ultimately incredibly agreeable child, who behaves beautifully. At his age, if they like what they see, they will offer to represent him. The goal (in my opinion) would be to find one agent to represent him across the board, so that you can avoid trying to schedule with 2 or 3 different agents. You will need to get your son a work permit, and have it with you where ever you go for "the business". The agent will probably ask him a couple of questions. They are hoping for him to be smart, confident, and small for his age, so he can play younger than he is.

You need to get educated by some people who know what they are doing in this business... Try the forums on backstage west and showpiz parents. There is a pamphlet from the labor board about your responsibilities as the parent of the child when the child is on set. YOU need to MEMORIZE that pamphlet and follow it to the letter. Because if you don't and they catch you, YOU will get a HUGE fine, and possibly lose custody of the child if they catch you more than once... You need to set him up with a Coogan Bank account, and 15 percent of his money must be deposited into that account. Try the Credit Union in Hollywood for persons in the entertainment industry, they are really nice. My daughter's account is there.

Finally, hold on to your wallet... There are some things you will have to pay for... He will need headshots. At his age, you can probably take them yourself, or have someone you know take them. He is changing so fast, you'll definitely learn to take them in a lower cost way, because he'll need new ones every 6 months or so. His hair will have to look just like it does in the headshots all the time, so he'll need his hair cut more often than what you are probably doing now. MOST reputable agents require their clients to take acting classes. For his age, this is more like directed play but it will still cost a pretty penny.

However, you should NEVER pay an agent to represent your son. The money they earn is a commision off the top of his work. You should not ever be told by an agent that you have to use their photographer, or their acting class/teacher. It is important that you avoid these types of scams, as they will cost you money and get your son nothing.

This is an expensive thing you have begun. I wouldn't recommend it as a way to secure your son's future or as a way to solve any financial problems you might be having. It will, for the first 2 years, at least, cost as much, if not MUCH MORE, than he is able to make. I do this with and for my daughter because it makes her happy and she wants to do it. I think that is the ONLY good reason to do it...

Have a great day, best wishes for you and your son!



answers from Los Angeles on

If you want to do then try it. If you don't like it or your son does not like it then stop. You can always not have your child sent for interviews or turn down jobs that you do not like (not all the time but you have some room to choose). But we are like you, I just wanted my child to have something for her future. I am not expecting her to become famous so even if she did some extra work then we can start an IRA account and she will never have to think about her retirement. Plus at the age that they are they, they are only allowed to be on the set such a short period of time.

I hope that helps,



answers from Los Angeles on

Advice? Don't do it. If you worked in the biz you know this is not a morning at gymboree. I get the financial end of it, but unless you can't afford his milk I'd forget it and let him be a child. There's a reason that so many child actors/models end up train wrecks.

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