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HOLLYWOOD - Kids And Hollywood
My Son Wants To Be An Actor
After growing up in Los Angeles and raising a family there for a while, I came to understand that if my kids grew up there they would probably end up in the entertainment industry. So I moved them up towards Santa Barbara. Since my whole life up until my 20's centered around the entertainment industry and different associated medias, this worried me. Not because working in the industry is not "fun" and "exciting" and it does pay very well, but because of the deep psychological scars it left on my core self esteem when I was young.
No matter how you look at the glitter and the glamour, you must consider the the fact that your child will be in a competitive stream in order to become a "star." It is not just "play time" and it takes a long time to actually book something unless you are lucky and you know someone who can speed things along. Commercials are the best way to start out if your child wants to be an actor or an actress.
Since most of the time in commercial auditions they are looking for some sort of "look" and not caring too much about lots of dialogue, this seems to be the best way to start for a younger child. I need to tell you if you decide to get your child an agent and proceed with this career for your child, that it will take lots of work and patience and lots of driving around.
As a parent you need to be available for driving them to auditions which can come up "out of the blue" or from the night before. You also need to be available by phone so that you do not miss anything. Your child needs to understand that this is work before play and you also need to make sure he or she really wants to be there. I know people who are successful in the industry that still hate their parents and the one's that never reached their dream hated their own parents even more. You also have to be prepared to take your kids out of school on some occasions.
I used to go to auditions when I was a child and I did land quite a few jobs and a well-known TV show in my 20's, but my father could only do so much and he was older then most parents. He knew that I was talented, but I think he always thought of the "gold" at the end of the rainbow and did not understand my feelings of rejection and how hard I took it all inside. What happened as a result of all of those auditions is low self esteem issues, always dressing older then I was, needing constant attention from boys and way too early serious relationships with young boys that did not understand "love."
I think it is best to make sure that your child has other interests as well and pursues education as a priority. A lot of young successful actors and actresses do well for a while, but then they often see the work dry up and they have no other skills into their teens or older. My son asked me what it took to be an actor the other night and this is what I told him. "If you really want to do it "fine," but I still want you to pursue your education and get a degree. This may be silly to tell a 9 year old boy, but atleast I'm "planting the seeds" and he does not think that becoming an "actor" will make his life easier. Because in many ways the life of an actor is harder because most people who want it spend many hours and days "waiting" for that next job or financial reward. Only the chosen few work on a series or continue to be successful to cross into adult roles and jobs. When the call never comes the child will eventually think he is "not good enough."
The last thing I want for my children is for them to be in the entertainment industry, but if they really want it I will help make this happen. But I will always let them know that it is a "job" and it would be best to start a normal company of their own one day too or do something else for a living. Something that gives them a chance to live a normal life and earn a living without having to entertain people or always look better then someone else. If it is in their cards and they end up taking the same path as I did, I will make sure they have their education and life goals in view.
Someone had commented on Facebook when I wrote about my dilemma and the sudden questions from my son. "Acting is not a state of mind, it is genetic."