You came across an ad about commercial auditions specifically looking for children, so you decided to give it a try because your child would love some TV or online exposure. We understand the enthusiasm or the nervousness, but there certainly are rules of decorum and cautionary tales that you need to take into consideration when joining commercial auditions. Just like a job interview, there are several things you need to be aware of before ever setting foot in the interview room. Additionally, you need to be sure to prepare your child and, more importantly, yourself.
Here are tips and warnings.
Tips for Your Child to Ace Their Next Commercial Auditions
Kids need to look like their headshot.
First and foremost, actors need to look like their headshots, especially when they step into the audition room. For your child’s headshot, it’s crucial that it reflects how they really look.This isn’t “Toddlers & Tiaras.” Girls should not show up caked in makeup, struggling in heels, or wearing inappropriate clothing. Boys don’t need to be forced into starched stiff collars and their hair slicked down unnaturally. Kids need to look like kids.
Teach your kid how to take direction.
Do not drill the lines too many times in exactly the same way when you rehearse it. This might make the child extremely difficult to direct. Casting directors or directors usually want to try something different after your child delivers the line to see whether the aspiring actors can take direction. Instead, talk about what the lines mean and why they would be saying it. Have them try it tons of different ways. Taking direction is one of the most important qualities an actor should have.
Do not intimidate your child.
Understandably, your child may get nervous in certain meetings. After you saw them ace a few commercial auditions, you may start getting insecure as you watch the number of children in the waiting room grow. This is why it’s important for you as a parent to not further intimidate your child regarding who’s in the room just because you yourself are nervous. Be careful what kind of energy you project. To kids, particularly those who have theatrical flair, the number or the credentials of people in the room aren’t so scary until they start hearing you say “So-and-so directed this, so you have to impress her!” Don’t freak out your supposedly fearless kid.
Read, reread, review, familiarize.
For commercial auditions, you usually get the script early. Most kids aren’t prepared enough when they walk into a room and end up staring down at the script the whole time. The single best thing you can do as a parent is help them memorize their lines. Make it fun. At the very least, they should learn the first and last lines by heart, so they can start and end with their faces off the page. That will make a better impression.
Master on-camera audition etiquette.
Be careful not to tell them anything else to say as anything else may come off as very fake, brownnosing, or overly pushy. They shouldn’t ask how they did or when to expect a callback. They should not make any other kind of small talk on the way out, unless the casting director speaks to them first. Other kids who come from the stage end up projecting too much, exaggerating facial expressions, and not paying attention to the intimacy and stillness of an on-camera environment. It’s the easiest way to make sure they don’t get the job. They should walk into the room with confidence (naturally), learn to slate their name into the camera (naturally), take a breath, and then disappear into the scene (naturally).
Do not make excuses for your child.
Even if their poor performance was a direct result of something, assume that every casting director you meet has not only heard every excuse in the world hundreds of times; it’s more likely that they don’t care. They simply have too many other potential or better candidates to see. Wasting time listening to your excuses why little Tommy doesn’t know his lines is not something any casting director would want to do.
Do not scold your child in the audition room.
One sure way to ensure your child’s failure in getting the job is to scold them in the presence of a casting director. It is often cited as the most uncomfortable moments of any casting director’s careers, so avoid it whenever possible. Not only will this significantly reduce your child’s chances in landing the role, it will also discourage your child from joining commercial auditions in the future because of embarrassment.
Commercial Auditions: Warnings
The entertainment industry is filled with suspicious companies that prey on unsuspecting parents. These scammers know their targets well. They know that all parents think their children are talented, beautiful, and smart. They know that proud parents want their children to be happy and succeed. They also know that all parents think their child has that “something special” quality to be the next big child star. The truth is, we all have kids. There are millions of them and millions of parents who can be taken by sales pitches that feed their need to hear “Your kid should be a star.”
Protect yourself from scammers.
Do not believe anyone who approaches you out of the blue. Scammers pay people to hang out at malls and shopping centers to sign up kids for these things. Be very careful when answering open calls and auditions. When a real production company needs someone, they’ll need someone specific, like an 8- to 9-year-old Indian girl who can ride a horse. If you go to a casting call and see tons of kids with nothing in common of different age groups, then it’s most likely an audition scam. Be very skeptical.
If it turns out to be a company orientation, run. Do not allow your child to sit in. They’ll go into how much fame and fortune the kids will achieve through their company. Every word spoken is meant to excite your child to a point where it would break their heart if you said no at the end.
To make your child’s dreams come true, they’ll need you to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars. This entire sales session was meant to pump you up to pay for expensive and inferior classes, acting workshops, and poor-quality portfolios. They have now convinced your child that “if only” their parents would pay for their services, they would be stars. Never pay upfront fees for anything. This is supposed to be a job, meaning you get paid.
Always do your research. Google company names, agent names, etc. If you find nothing at all, then it may be fake. Legit companies have tons of info available about them and their employees. Many companies that operate unethically change names and locations often. Finding very little or no information at all should be a red flag.
How do you get your child into acting for real?
Forget about fame and fortune and concentrate on your kid having fun with it and improving their skills! Get your child involved in school plays, local theater groups, and local student film projects. None of these will pay a dime but will give your child the experience needed to get an agent.
Many states have websites dedicated to the film industry and local productions. They are a good source of local info for small markets. Check with union sites. SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity have lists of licensed agents and other valuable information.
The only real way into the industry is with a résumé, training, hard work, and an agent. An agent will not see your child unless they have some experience and training. Send your child to community acting classes and local workshops.
This is not easy work. For every small gig your child lands there will be dozens they don’t. If your child enjoys it and has true passion for the art of acting or modelling, they will succeed.