As mom of three actors…Well, two actors and one loud toddler who happens to audition and book, managing expectations is a part of my repertoire! I have found a very simple way to keep the HIGH highs and the LOW lows away from the kids. I CLOSE MY BEDROOM DOOR AND POUND ON MY BED!!! YES, this business can be unfair, objectifying and hurtful. BUT, it can also be gratifying, exciting and fulfilling. How fun it is to fly out of state, film for an extended period of time, return to school with stories and treats for your classmates and friends! But how horrifying it can be to attend the premiere, watch the movie in the midst of a large audience, only to see that your child’s role has been truncated to a non-verbal role, what is referred to at times as “furniture” in a scene. WHAT DO YOU DO? Well, this situation has actually happened in our family!
My ground rules are:
1. Revel in the experience of traveling, touring a new city, meeting new people, and experiencing a new environment.
2. I don’t discuss the “what ifs” with my children. “What if they fly you around the world for all the premiers?!?!?”, “What if this is THE ROLE that catapults you into super stardom?!?!?!” lalalalala.. “What if the cut you completely out of the movie/tv show/commercial?!?!?!?”
3. Once the project is done, I don’t chat about it with the kids. We move on. Now, I can assure you that my hubby and I are processing whe what if’s together, away from the kids!
4. Last but not least, I TiVo the project and watch without the children. In fact THEY NEVER KNOW when a new project is set to air. I just don’t put it on their mental calendar!
5. Remember that this business is a parallel universe! In my mind, it’s not REALITY. Being a Disney star or the next indie ingenue will not change the essence of your child. What DOES make a well rounded, interesting actor, in my opinion, is a child with passions, interests and desires.
Instead of focusing on the next project, let’s focus on the next passion!!
Another school year has started and the planets are aligning perfectly! Besides being the mommy of an 8th grader, 5th grader and preschooler, I have also been busy taking notes on set to pass on to you all! I just wanted to take a moment to thank you again for joining www.commercialmommy.com! . I am eager to continue sharing tips and inside information about the commercial, modeling and film biz!
Each month I will be giving away different items and/or services. For the September 2012 giveaway, join me on Twitter.com/commercialmommy, because I am giving away 5 FREE consultations to 5 lucky folks, once I reach 2000 followers! So spread the word and join Twitter!
Also, for those that join me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/commercialmommy, I am giving away a FREE headshot session with my prestigious photographer/husband, Afshin Shahidi!
Join me ~ Join the conversation!
Commercial Mommy AKA Keri!!
Child Actors and Unspoken Stress: The Perils of Focusing on One Family Member’s Career
Every day I wake up, knowing that I will be juggling mommy hood, woman hood, wife hood and business affairs. Like most families, we find a way to make it work. Adding the layer of being an actor and a mommy to working actors makes life…interesting, to say the least! What happens when our children exhibit signs of stress or exhaustion? How do we recognize these signs and what should we do about it?
I have always been a fan of having my children have casual conversations with trusted relatives. Auntie can ask, “How’s it going, balancing school and auditions?” and get a truthful answer. A child therapist can also assist. It never hurts to “check in” with your child, to see that they are driven by passion and not obligation.
As parents, we may not be aware of all of the pressures that child actors feel.
YES. They have scripts to memorize, often on short notice.
YES. They have to juggle school and acting.
YES. They may not be able to play on their school’s athletic teams.
But have you thought about the rest?
Are their earnings responsible for the family rent?
Do their career ambitions split up the family for months at a time?
Would they feel like a disappointment if they decided to stop acting?
Do they have to audition for parts that they are not comfortable with, just hoping for a paycheck?
Do they feel guilty about the attention they receive?
These situations are very real for many families, and right or wrong, they need to be addressed.
How have I addressed potential issues with my family?
- We are all based in Los Angeles and live together. Both my husband and I are self employed.
- We do not mix finances. The children know where their money is and when it is necessary to use it (PR, agent’s fees, etc.)
- They are not responsible for any family expenses, but ARE responsible for items that they desire that are outside of the family budget.
- We go out of the way to book out for vacations, to prove to them that we can have a NORMAL life.
- We discuss all auditions before they are confirmed. We have passed on MANY!
- We continuously involve them in new activities, not to increase acting opportunities, but to increase life experiences.
And finally, we are prepared for the day that they decide to change their desires…..as hard as it may be for us to accept, it is our obligation as a parents to LISTEN to our little actors…..our children.
What have you done to decrease stress for your child actor?
In September, I held a competition on my blog- the grand prize? A headshot session with my husband Afshin Shahidi. We had the privilege of working with Celina & Yesenia Jaurez. From the early age of 3, Celina has directed, produced and starred in many shows from her playroom with her family and favorite dolls. Now As a blossoming 13 year old, Celina is dancing in live performances with audiences bigger than just her family and attending the performing arts academy at the YMCA. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing and being silly with her sister.
Yesenia was born in Sunny California! Like her sister since her early toddling years she has starred in her sister’s shows her toy rom with the family and other furry friends. Yesenia, now 11, is focused on building her resume. She is involved in dance, plays, and feature films. Last summer, she attended a summer program at CASA 0101 with actor Eddie Paddilla. In her free time she loves to be a silly tween and get lost in books.
For More info on these beautiful young ladies visit:
Balance & the child actor: Is your child an Actor or is the Actor your child?
For many months I let this question linger in the forefront of my mind as I trudged thru my daily mommy/actor/business owner/consultant routine. It just so happens that I am a part of a family in which every one of us is in front of the camera from time to time. I still reminisce about the days gone by when my children were print models, making a modest income that padded their future retirement accounts. Fast forward to 2012…I am now in the trenches with agents, managers, publicists, lawyers, accountants, writers, scripts, acting coaches, stylists…you name it!
But all of these things pale in comparison to my biggest job…. making sure my children are able to be CHILDREN.
This business can be a slippery slope to rejection, accolades that fade, unfulfilled desires, and paperwork. The flip side is that this business can be an exhilarating climb to the peak of self expression, excitement, blossoming friendships and so on. My goal is to continue to take the temperature of our family climate. Is the business a plus or a negative in our lives? Do we need to take a break and get out of town in the height of commercial season (done it)? Or are we having the time of our lives, laughing about our audition and work experiences.
Fun and Growth are ALWAYS on my list of goals.
I have always maintained the position that our conversations with my children about prior and future auditions, screen tests, producer’s sessions and callbacks are kept at a minimal.
Is it possible that my children are at a disadvantage? Yes.
But what I know to be true is that when they are in a meeting with network executives,their “child-ness” shines thru… and that cannot be coached, practiced or faked!
So what is my analysis of 2011? My children had great fun traveling for pleasure and work. My children earned an income that will hopefully surprise them when they are adults and my hard work to maintain a balance that is weighted heavier on the side of “being a kid” has paid off.
Here is to an abundant 2012!! To all of the children who are actors, dancers, future scientists, skateboarders, jump ropers or chalk artists: May we ALL continue to pursue what is enjoyable!