Actors and Parents of Child actors: What to do when a Script isn’t your Cup of Tea
The scenario: The Agent calls you, excitedly, about a new opportunity for your child.
It’s a lead role, on a new project written by the creators of (replace with your favorite tv show here)! The age range is right. The ethnic group is right and it shoots in Maui!! “Mom, dad, please look over the script- I have already set a time for (place your child’s name here) to audition!”
You climb in bed after a long day of family wrangling and begin to read the script.
Cue *look of horror*
The story takes place in a rat infested hotel. Your baby is expected to say some very mature dialogue, stumble upon a situation that you haven’t even discussed with him because he is too young AND then be the victim of a homicide!
I know this situation sounds outlandish, but I also know that sooner or later all of us parents of child actors will be able to recount a situation or two that rivals the created one above.
Years ago, an agent set my child up for an audition so outlandish and inappropriate, that my sensibilities were offended. The agent hadn’t bothered to read the material, but called me incessantly to confirm the audition time. I called her back each time and asked, “Have you read the material?” Close to two days later, the agent called to apologize. Not standard, but I believe she understood how incensed I was (we had a very close, successful working relationship).
How do you balance your family’s morals and ethics, while striving to obtain opportunities for your child actor?
Two words: WITH INTEGRITY
As the mommy of three young actors, I am faced with varying degrees of this situation weekly. Our current agent is fantastic. Her approach is, “If there is material that fits your children’s range, I will email you, call to have a conversation, and leave the decision up to your family.” If the agent doesn’t like the material, she will still send it my way and explain her position. She wants transparency in our relationship and wants me to know all opportunities, good and not so good. My suggestion for all parents is to create this type of relationship with your agent/manager. Have them prepped to know that you will want to have a conversation. I have addressed common concerns below. (Email me if you have other concerns I can address on commercialmommy.com!)
Q: Will our agent drop my child for turning down opportunities.
A: If you have explained succinctly and directly your reasons for passing on a script, a good agent will not drop your child. Caveat: Turning down many auditions in a row may be a sign to look for a better fitting agent/actor relationship.
Q: What If we have a strong moral/religious opposition to many of scripts. Will that lower our chances of booking work?
A: First, make sure your agent and the assistants have all of your “no-go’s” before the audition process starts. We don’t eat pork, so that means no pizza commercials! Have a preliminary discussion about your list so you feel that the agent understands you position. Next, understand that the more parameters we place, the smaller the field of opportunities. AND THAT IS OK!
Q: I am ok with a script, but my husband/wife disagrees and doesn’t want my child to audition. Will will my child’s opportunities be lost?
A: Agents are used to “managing” the child actor and the family. This situation is not new or unusual, but it deserves an immediate conversation. The agent may be able to clarify the script for you and get questions answered to help you make an informed decision.
This happened with my family! I didn’t like the violence in a script, my husband was ok with it as were the agents! In the end, the producers and director conference called me from France to clarify my concerns. Hold true to what you feel and be open to hearing more information.
Until next time!