Industry Voices: Safety, Smart Choices & Stage Names

An interview with BizParentz Co-Founders Paula Dorn and Anne Henry: Part I

How it all began: In 2001, Paula Dorn met Anne Henry. Their sons, both 10 years old and established young performers in the LA area, were working in a live show at Disneyland. Around that same time, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) was sponsoring legislation that updated the “Coogan Law,” which requires trust accounts for young performers.

Recognizing the need for more effective communication about these legal changes – particularly for the parents who would be affected – Paula and Anne founded BizParentz. What began as a mailing list to share information about the new laws, quickly grew into a vital industry resource that focused on a wide range of issues to help parents of young performers.

Incorporated as a 501c3 non-profit in 2004, BizParentz Foundation is a grass-roots, volunteer run, non-profit corporation that provides education, advocacy and charitable support to parents and children engaged in the entertainment industry. On Location Education recently had the opportunity to sit down with Paula and Anne to discuss safety and other important issues related to child performers.  

On Location Education: What advice do you have for parents regarding child actor safety?
BizParents: That's a huge topic.  The number one rule is that you should be within sight and sound of your child 24/7. Recognize that if you stray from that, the risk increases significantly for all kinds of safety issues -- physical injury on the set, pedophilia, financial predators, etc. You are the ONLY person who loves your child, and has their best interest at heart.  By not being present, you allow other adults to have influence and control over your child.    
Second, recognize that the industry has different motivations than you do.  Theirs are business and money, primarily.  There is very little in the way of background checks in this industry, so predators (scam artists and pedophiles) abound in this environment.  As a parent, your priority is raising a healthy, happy child.  That means you need to be aware of risks and play defense -- protect YOUR interests.  Don't get sucked into the idea that your child is special snowflake and that this is about their "gifts" or "talent." Your child may very well be talented, but this is about business. 
Third, make sure you have your family's boundaries defined in advance.  You should know what kind of roles you will allow your child to play, how much you will allow showbiz to affect their education or your other children, and how much you are willing to put into this career financially.  You should also have an exit plan -- when is this going to cross the line into "too much," and when will you stop chasing the rabbit.  Thinking about these things in advance, when there isn't yet money on the table or the stress of a quick decision really helps families to avoid danger and stay focused on the safety and well-being of their child.      

OLE: How can parents of young actors identify and avoid potential scams?

BP: We suggest using a "Listen, Research, Wait" model, and we advocate parents learning to recognize business models, rather than the names of businesses.  Scammers will often close a company and re-open under another name, move to another state, or use a stage name themselves.  So, it is really valuable for parents to learn how to spot the red flags of a scam and learn what industry standard behavior is.  Most scams are operating outside the "real" industry -- at the fringes.   

Note: You’ll find additional information from BizParentz on this subject here: Avoiding Scams.
OLE: What are the benefits (safety or otherwise) of using a stage name? What are the cons?

BP: We highly suggest using a stage name.  This is one of those "hindsight is 20/20" things for us personally -- we wish would have done this. It works most effectively if you can do it VERY early in a child's career, before they have credits under their real name.  

There are many good reasons to use one. For example, it allows the actor to participate in normal activities without compromising their location. They can register for public school, little league and other activities under their real name.  If their name ends up in the local paper or on an internet team roster, it doesn't give away their location to predators.  Using a stage name is not foolproof, but it does shield most children from most predators, and those who may wish to invade their privacy. 

To learn more about BizParentz, visit their web site at

5 Habits to Spruce Up Your Study Skills

Demonstrating productive and effective study habits is a key component of a successful academic foundation. The challenge is that we are often taught what to study, but not how to study. Whether in a traditional school setting or on location, you can help your student boost his or her academic performance with these five tips.

Note it down – The first step to good study habits begins before your student leaves the classroom with good, old-fashioned note taking. Not sure where to start? Focus on facts the instructor highlights. Keep papers such as homework, classwork, and quizzes that have been returned. These are great tools for review, too.

Create a work space – Identify a space for homework and studying. It should be relatively free of distractions and have enough work surface for your student to spread out books, papers, and materials. Keep the area stocked with paper, pencils and other related school supplies. It doesn’t have to be a desk. The kitchen table can be homework central at a specific time of day, especially if you want to be close at hand to answer questions and keep your student moving. Some research indicates that listening to music can help improve focus and concentration. Whether music is a help or hindrance, however, depends upon the individual.  

Practice not review – It’s never a bad idea to review your notes and previous assignments, but there’s more to studying than re-reading what you’ve learned. Students need to practice concepts and work on recalling material. Use tools like flashcards and the online resource Quizlet, which allows students to create online quizzes of their own material or search for existing practice sessions that others have developed previously.

Make it a game – There are things your student will simply have to memorize. But that’s no reason not to make it fun! Use songs, poems, mnemonic devices, and games to help your student commit the materials to memory. Sometimes simple rhymes and other memory boosters stick with us long into adulthood.

Use the time you have wisely – Studying demands time, which can be a hard-to-come-by commodity, especially for a young performer. Encourage your student to study when in the car, while waiting to go into an audition, or other down times.

Bonus tip – the same skills that help you study academic material can be applied to learning lines. Give it a try!

For more discussions on academic performance and set life, visit us on Facebook.


Assuring the Well-Being of Your Child Performer

Recently, two industry powerhouses, Sally Gaglini and Alan Simon, had the opportunity to engage in a Twitter discussion on the topic, “Assuring the Well-Being of Your Child Performer.

Alan Simon is the founder and President of Location Education, co-chairperson of the SAG-AFTRA Performer’s Committee (New York Branch), and a member of the Young Performer’s Committee of the Actors’ Equity Association. Sally Gaglini is the author of Young Performers at Work: Child Star Survival Guide and a legal advisor with twenty-five years’ experience working with young performers.

If you have a child in show business (or your family is thinking about getting into the biz), you will learn a lot from the discussion. As Sally says, “Empowering parents with essential information gives children their best hope for protection and success.” If you missed the Twitter discussion, or you’d like to revisit what was shared during the live discussion, we are reprinting the transcript below:

How can parents discern a legitimate opportunity in entertainment vs. a scam?

Sally Gaglini (SG): References, references, references.  Parents must do their homework.  Also, seek out experienced parents for referrals and perspective.

Alan Simon (AS): Be mindful that real agents / managers NEVER ask for money up front. They are paid on commission. Agents, by law, receive 10% of gross earnings. Managers should receive no more than 15%. Agents are regulated by the state in which they work. But managers are NOT regulated. FYI: Agents can submit clients for projects; Managers are not.

SG: A good rule of thumb is, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it generally is. Do not be pressured into signing something NOW. Your child counts on you to make an informed decision for him or her. If you are tempted to sign something, seek out an experienced attorney first and pay her for one consultation. There are also voluntary lawyer organizations and reduced fee panels that can help. Check state regulations also, some states, like Massachusetts may regulate managers.

AS: It’s worth noting that a Polaroid or school picture will suffice as an introductory head shot. Hundreds of dollars NEED NOT be spent. Mall solicitations are all about spending money. Avoid them like the plague!

Young performers sometimes experience a loss of privacy or loneliness. What can parents do to prepare them for this?

SG: Before that occurs, you must assess if your child can handle it. Learn how much work is involved before signing your child up for a career in entertainment.

AS: Remember the word BALANCE: it's what helps families navigate the business.

SG: True. Balance age appropriate social events with friends alongside school and the work. Balance is bliss. Keep a cell phone charged & your child’s friends' SKYPE ready. Stay looped with birthday parties and other rites of passage. You can actually negotiate time off for “PROM” with advanced planning.

AS: Maintain a world away from the job. Remember who your friends are. Children have TWO jobs: one professional (the job), one educational (school). Both need to be balanced.

SG: Ask yourself if it will be worth your child's loneliness & loss of privacy. If not, explore another outlet for fun.

Rejection is inevitable when pursuing a career in entertainment. How can a parent help their children cope with this?

 AS: When the audition is over, go out for ice cream, change the subject.

 SG: There are far more “NO” responses than YESes. If your child cannot handle it, explore another outlet for fun. Determine in advance how much rejection you will allow your child to take before you push the escape button. Then stick to it!

AS: Before even getting involved in this world, honestly evaluate talent & intention. Know your "type." Also, don't want the job more than your child does.

SG: Good point, Alan.  Listen to what your child is saying. Pay attention to their body language. If they’re uncomfortable, let the dream go. 

AS: Encourage your child to follow simultaneous passions, not just show business. Stay active in sports, religious training, clubs, to name a few.

SG: Focus on the FUN FACTOR of the process. Place emphasis on experiencing the JOURNEY. If your child is cast, it’s a bonus.  

AS: Oh, and don't listen to know-it-alls in the audition waiting room.

What are some considerations for a family when working in their home location (NY vs. LA) as opposed to traveling on a national tour?

AS: To start, determine who travels with the child.

SG: Ask, "can our family afford this financially?" Decisions should be made carefully, strategically, & methodically. Also ask, “can we afford the time loss as a family?" If one parent stays behind to work/pay bills, then the other parent & child may be far away.

AS: Exactly. Consider the impact on the PARENTS' dynamic. Consider the needs of other children at home. Don’t forget to also consider schooling, specifically extended absences, when on tour for 6 months to 1 year.

How does a career in show business affect the family dynamic?

AS: Travel will test a strong marriage... as it will a weak one.

SG: Take a thoughtful approach with ALL of your children in mind, not just your working child.

AS: If the child is the major bread winner, consider the implications on the adults in the household.

SG: Right, if the child is out-earning their parent(s), how will that affect that the child when grown and his or her relationship with you? How much money will the family be needing of your child’s earnings? What impact will that have on the family now and in the future?

AS: Don't let the rumor mill run your life. No one knows more than you do.

SG: Build in family time, even if this means that you meet half way. Keep separate records: What you spend on show biz jobs vs. your own resources. Remember that you generally maintain obligation to support your child as long as he or she has not been declared emancipated. 

How does one handle schooling when professional commitments arise?

AS:  Athletics, school plays, traveling teams: these are the norms. Schools know how to handle these types of activities. But the fact is, not every school supports a professional performer.

SG: Learn who in your district makes decisions about curriculum and days absent. Loop your child’s teacher(s) into prospective opportunities well in advance. The goal is to assemble a supportive offense.

AS: In public school - Make friends with the principal and the superintendent, so you can know local absentee policies. In private schools - ensure that your tuition payments allow for extended absences. (Don't assume!)

SG: Advocate for your son or daughter to receive the right studio teacher for him or her.

What safety issues can a parent realistically affect regarding their child’s performance on set or stage?

SG: Secure your child’s domain name.

AS: Parents need to limit online access, from both fans and predators.

SG: Right, and be cautious with your child’s image. Understand the difference between personal information and private information. And fight to protect what is private. If you see something suspicious, speak up!

AS: Get to know the performers' unions and how they protect your child's working conditions. Also, ask if due diligence (background checks) have been done for those in contact with the children.

SG: Ensure coverage of work-related insurances paid by employer/producer, like workers' comp, liability, etc. Keep your eyes and ears on your child “on set” or “on stage” at all times.

Learn more about these topics in Sally’s book Young Performers at Work: Child Star Survival Guide, as well as in previous On Location Education articles. On Twitter, you can follow Sally and Alan here: @SallyGaglini and @OnLocationEd.


Four Can’t-Miss, On-Set Boredom Busters for Young Performers

People who work in the film and television industry know that there can be a lot of waiting around during production. This can be particularly challenging for a young actor. The good news, however, is that with a little planning, on-set downtime can be productive and enjoyable. Here are four ways young performers can combat boredom between takes.

School Days
If your child performer would normally be in school during production hours, then those blocks of time between scenes will, at least in part, be filled with classes. Child actors must spend a certain amount of time working on their education, per SAG regulations and state laws. You’ll find more information about on-set education on our website

Learn a New Skill
Need to master a new accent for an upcoming casting call? Intrigued by coding? Whether your child’s interest has been piqued by a professional skill or something beyond the entertainment industry, downtime is a good time to explore and practice. If you are looking for ideas for new skills and interests, try these great online sources: TED Talks for kids, 3-2-1 Acting Studios and Khan Academy.
Embrace a Hobby
Balance is important for performers of any age, which means it is essential to have an identity and interests outside of the entertainment industry. Devote some of your on-set downtime to those activities. Your soccer-loving daughter may find a safe space to practice her footwork. Your artistic son may want to hone his skills with pastels when he’s not in school or performing. Curling up with a good book, navigating the boss-battle on a favorite video game, and other kid-favorite activities are also good options.

Stay Connected
Working as a young actor can be isolating. Use on-set downtime to connect with friends at home. Keep your cell phone charged and your SKYPE account at the ready. Social media is another valuable communication outlet that can combat isolation. Not only is it a good tool to keep up-to-date with friends and family, young performers can also connect with fans and network within the industry. Just be smart about it. You’ll find some tips on how to be social media savvy on our blog. 

How does your young performer stay occupied during on-set downtime? Please share your ideas with us on Facebook or Twitter.


Dos & Don’ts of Parenting an Auditioning Child

This is it. You’ve been running lines with your child to prepare for this audition. Your young performer is now headed into the casting room, nervous, excited, and ready. All you can do now is wait until your son or daughter emerges from the casting room. But then what? 

Do Smile
Your child is going to take his lead from you. If you’re tense and it shows, guess how he’s going to feel. Don’t plaster on a phony, cheesy grin; he will sense the inauthenticity. Your child worked hard to get to this point. Regardless of the outcome, getting in and out of that casting call is an accomplishment. Offer a genuine smile that conveys you’re proud of him for the hard work that went into preparing and the confidence it took to get in there and give it his best. 

Don’t Ask. 
Naturally, you’re eager to hear how things went, but the waiting room isn’t the time to ask. Give your child time to digest the audition at her own pace. If she wants to volunteer information when she first sees you, that’s great. Otherwise, hold your questions until you’re out of the building. When you do ask, focus on how your child is feeling. A simple “How’d it go?” or “How do you feel about the audition?” will suffice. Don’t fire off a list of questions designed to reconstruct the audition for you. 

Do Switch Gears
When the audition is over, go out for ice cream. Hit the trampoline park. Do something completely unrelated to the business. Take the focus off the process and back on to being just a kid. You should always encourage your child to pursue passions outside of show business. Not every audition is going to result in a new role. In fact, most actors hear “no” more than “yes.” Feeling disappointed over a no is normal, but a child who sees his career as just one facet of his life is apt to take that disappointment in stride. The child whose focus is solely or primarily on the biz may not. 

Do Focus on the Fun
Acting, even professionally, should be fun for a child. It should be something she opts to do. Before you even get started in this world, honestly evaluate your child’s talent and desire. Make sure this is something she wants more than you do. Every now and then take stock of where your child’s heart is. If the process is becoming more like a chore than a pleasurable hobby, it might be time to call it quits. 

Don’t Listen to Waiting Room Gossip
It’s easy to get pulled in to the chatter in the waiting room. Someone “who knows someone” talks as if she has the inside scoop. Another someone who has been down this route before offers – in a decidedly factual tone – his insights over who will and won’t land a part. Before you get caught up, remember this: it’s just waiting room gossip. Don’t accept what you hear hook, line and sinker. 

For more tips and resources regarding young performers, follow us on Twitter @OnlocationEd or join us on Facebook

Industry Voices: An Interview with On-Set Teacher Sally Rusk

It used to be said that school was about the three “Rs”: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Today’s students delve deeper into a wider range of subjects, of course, with additional studies in the areas of history, science, technology, and more. But when your classroom is on a set and your schoolwork happens between takes, your teacher’s responsibility goes even further than that.

On-set teacher Sally Rusk recently sat down with this reporter to discuss her experiences on-set.  If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to teach young performers or you’ve been interested in taking your teaching career in a new direction, Sally’s insights are something you need to read. 

OLE: How did you get your start as an on-set teacher?

SR: The convergence of several experiences - production and teaching - sent me on the path to being an on-set teacher.  I began my career in production as a writer/director/producer of marketing and training programs. Because I wanted to transition into the production of children’s program, I took classes in education. I also trained as a reading tutor in order to help my son struggling with dyslexia. I enjoyed teaching and soon realized that teaching would be a better life style fit for raising a family than the unpredictable world of production. I returned to the University of Delaware to earn a certification for teaching kindergarten through grade eight. I worked in a Montessori school, a middle school for the arts and a traditional public school. 

One day I found myself with my son on location in a beautiful field shooting a feature film. My curiosity was piqued when he was sent to the “school trailer.” I explored the role of on-set teacher and tucked the idea away until later. Eventually in 2008, with the new flexibility of an empty-nester, I was fortunate enough to work for On Location Education as their on-set teacher on the movie Doubt. 

OLE:  What types of projects have you worked on? 

SR: I have been on TV shows, on feature films in studios and on locations in and out of the country. My classrooms have been very nice school trailers, a small tent on a glacier in Greenland, the top of the Reading Pagoda, a deck overlooking a Costa Rica rainforest, and on boxes in an abandoned factory.  You never know where you will be teaching.

OLE: How does your role on-set differ from the responsibilities of a teacher in a traditional classroom setting? How is it the same?

SR: Obviously, besides the physical surroundings, there are other differences. In addition to teaching, I feel my role is to help the students balance their educational requirements, their professional responsibilities, and just being a kid. I strive to continue their progress with academics and to take advantage of the educational experiences abundant during production. 

You need to know child labor laws. The production may turn to you to advise them on the number of work hours permitted for a certain age or expect you to watch over the minor’s safety during the shoot. Knowing all the SAG rules for minors may not be required of the teacher, but it is a good idea.  Working for On Location Education is a huge advantage. They know all those idiosyncrasies.

You teach all subjects and multiple ages. One minute you may be teaching basic vowel sounds and the next reviewing how mitosis divides chromosomes or the impact of Imperialistic British Empire. Thank goodness for the internet.

OLE:  What is the most rewarding aspect of being an on-set teacher?

SR: You really get to teach. You get to work with students one-on-one or in small groups so you learn your students’ strength, weaknesses and learning styles so you can get some great interactions going.

I like having the opportunities for creative teaching in all core subjects. 

If you are lucky you get to visit some unusual locations and get to plan some amazing field trips for your students. That may be just a walk around set, a guided tour around the block, or a hike across the glacier with the Stunt Coordinator. 

You get to work with an amazing variety of talented people.

OLE: What's the biggest challenge?

SR: Just like everyone in production work, your personal schedule has to be very flexible. It is a crazy unpredictable scheduling that can turn into long hours. When you get reserved to work, you mark off that entire day on your calendar because you rarely know what the hours will be until the evening before. It’s not for everyone.

You have to think on your feet. It’s a challenge, but it’s also what I love. You never know what you will be teaching or how long your session will be with your student. Some students come prepared with lessons and work from their schools and others do not. Sometimes you have time to prep a lesson, but many times you have to get creative on the fly.

OLE:  What advice would you offer someone who is considering a career as an on-set teacher?

SR: To do it right, like all teaching positions, be prepared to put more time and energy into the job than the actual hours with the students. Be flexible.

OLE:  What misconceptions do you think people have about the role of an on-set teacher?

SR: The teacher’s role in this is often misunderstood. California requires a “Studio Teacher” to be on set (Specific title compared to an on-set teacher). In addition to being certified teachers they are child advocates (they have training similar to a social worker.) Because so many production people come out of California they think all teachers play that role.

OLE: How do you stay active in the industry?

SR: I am still writing/producing/direction so that keeps me in touch. I keep track of productions coming to my area through film office websites.

OLE: Thank you for your insights, Sally!

If you’re interested in exploring the career of on-set teacher, you’ll find more information on our web site here: 

On-Set Teaching: Do You Have What It Takes?

Teachers know that look – the one that comes across a student’s face the moment a lesson clicks. Now, imagine having the opportunity to work closely with just a handful of students or even a single student. You would be able to customize your lesson plans to focus on how each individual learns best, which means more of those “aha!” moments. That’s one of the perks of being an “On-Set Teacher” (or “Studio Teacher,” as they are known in California).

What is an On-Set/Studio Teacher?

Whether a production company is working in film, television, or commercial or print photography, there is likely a tutor nearby if there are children on set. In many states, this is required by child labor laws. California has the most specific set of these laws, including a provision that requires Studio Teachers to hold a specialized certification.

Under California law, Studio Teachers are more than just educators. They are additionally responsible for the welfare of the young performers under the age of 16. In this role, instructors ensure that children have valid work permits. They also monitor working conditions (hours, breaks, meals, etc.) of minors on the set. They are on set from the moment the first child performer’s day begins until the last of their charges wraps for the day.

For information on obtaining a certification to work as a “Studio Teacher” in California, you can find requirements here.

What does school look like on set?

As a Studio Teacher, your classes will be small. For example, according to California requirements, there must be no greater than a one-to- ten teacher-student ratio on school days. “School” will be held for three hours each day; however, those hours might take place in 20-minute (or more) increments throughout the day.

Where do On-Set/Studio Teachers work?

Although the majority of entertainment industry projects take place in California and New York, there are also opportunities in other areas within the United States and around the world. At On Location Education, we also work with clients who seek private instructors to teach their children while the family is abroad on extended business trips or vacations.

Why should I consider on-set teaching?

As noted earlier, being an On-Set or Studio Teacher provides the flexibility to design a learning program that is best suited to your students. Working in this capacity gives you the opportunity to shed the day-to- day routine approach to teaching in an institutional environment and get creative! You may also have the chance to travel and expand your own learning opportunities as a result.

Think you’ve got what it takes? To learn more about what is required of On-Set/Studio Teachers and how you can become one, visit our website here: Teacher Information.

Extended Travel with Kids in Tow? Pack a Bag (and a Teacher)

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” ~ Mark Twain

Thinking about embarking on a memorable, long-term vacation with your family? Whether you’re dreaming of winding your way around the world or trekking cross-country, extended travel offers a long list of benefits for the entire family. For one thing, nationwide or global exploration provides hands-on learning experiences for your children that no classroom can rival. But before you pack your bags and hit the road, there are a few school-related preparations you will need to make.

Talk with the school

Before you leave, arrange a meeting with your child’s school to discuss his or her development and your educational plan for your time away. Understanding what material will need to be covered during the span of your trip will help you incorporate academics into your travel plans. You may be able to integrate your child’s curriculum into your adventures, planning learning experiences, assignments, and projects around your destinations.

Coordinating efforts with your child’s school will enable you to keep in step with grade-level objectives, expectations, and state standards. This is especially important for when your young travelers return to their schools at the conclusion of your trip.

Explore your options

Fortunately, families have several good options when it comes to educating children during protracted vacations. Between homeschooling, online academies, and private tutors, parents can choose the solution that best fits students’ learning styles, preferences, and travel plans.

It’s important to do your research to fully understand the pros and cons of each option. While homeschooling and online schools provide opportunities to continue your child’s studies during extended travel, these options require extensive preparation and continuous parental involvement. Each state and school district have specific requirements that must be met in order for your child to receive credit for work completed.

At OLE, we have found that private educational programs provide the structure needed to satisfy academic requirements, while offering flexibility and customized instructional plans so students can also enjoy time with their families. Since 1982, we have provided teachers who continue the education of students while they are away on vacation. Our dedicated staff coordinates with parents and teachers to ensure students complete their assignments and stay on pace academically.

Another advantage of choosing private educational programs is that families have complete control over schedules and routines. With OLE, the school travels to – and with – the student, rather than the other way around!

If you are planning an extended trip and would like to discuss education options with one of our specialists, you can contact us at 914-747- 2737.

Safe travels!


Every Picture Tells A Story

Aside from your child’s talent and tenacity, a headshot is one of the most important components in any actor’s career. Agents and casting directors see them by the hundreds on a daily basis, so you naturally want one that stands out. Competition is fierce, and you only have a few seconds to make an impression. The trick is getting a photo that captures your personality (or type) and presents you in a natural and professional manner. This is all easier said than done, but there are strategies for getting the headshot that tells your story perfectly.

1. Find the Right Photographer

Every parent loves taking pictures of their children, but where your child’s career is concerned, headshots should be left to the professionals. And while it might seem like an expensive proposition, headshots should be looked at as an investment into the future of your child’s show business career. As with all things involving child actors, safety comes first and foremost, so do your homework to find reputable photographers. There’s no such thing as too much information, and networking with the parents of other young performers is a good way to start getting it. Whether or not they’re satisfied with their experiences, it can save you a ton of legwork and help narrow the field rather quickly. After initial safety concerns are satisfied, it’s important to find a photographer with whom your child feels comfortable. A sense of trust is an important factor in getting your young performer’s personality to shine.

2. Keep It Simple

The primary goal of headshot is to give casting directors and agents a glimpse of your child’s personality so they can quickly get a handle on their “type,” the kinds of roles for which they are best suited. And although we’ve been talking about the headshot in the singular form, it doesn’t mean you’re limited to a single photo or one type. Online casting has changed the game, and selecting a range of wardrobe options can help show your child’s different sides, but take care to avoid straying off course. Makeup, if used, should not be obvious. If your child wears glasses, they should wear glasses in some photos, and hair should be styled but not overblown. Nothing should draw the viewer’s eyes away from your child’s face. Above all, remember that you’re presenting a child performer, not a miniature adult.

3. Relax and Have Fun

While the finished product may project confidence and glamour, the work that goes into a good headshot can be time-consuming and tedious, particularly for very young child actors. With shoots that can take hours to complete, patience can be in short supply on both sides of the lens. Turning a photo session into a pressure cooker isn’t good for anyone, so help keep your child relaxed and engaged. It’s the best way to pass the time more quickly and allow their personality to come to the fore. To put it in terms your kid can understand, imagine you’re flipping through the channels on your TV or surfing the web. Each snippet of TV show or web page is vying for your attention, and the makers of those shows or sites know they often have just a second or two to pull you in. A good headshot works the same way, and a little forethought and effort can go a long way in separating you from the pack.

Are You Social Media Savvy?

For child actors working to launch their careers (and the parents who support them), building awareness outside of auditions can be one of the greatest challenges in their fledgling professional lives. Luckily, there’s an inexpensive yet potentially powerful marketing tool at your disposal that can help you connect with entertainment industry professionals and keep your young performer in their spotlights whether they’re auditioning for them or not: social media.

Today’s young people have never known a world without social media. The two have grown up together, but just because kids have always known it doesn’t mean they’re the experts. “Privacy” has a different meaning for this generation, making it easy for the slightest misstep on Twitter or Instagram to turn into an embarrassing mistake or something far more damaging.

Safety First

Regardless of what platform you choose to promote your young performer’s career, for the safety of the child. the account must be 100 percent monitored by a parent. If personal accounts already exist for older children, make sure they’re kept separate from professional ones and try to limit access to include people you actually know; you might even consider closing personal accounts down altogether and start from scratch on a professional level. Kids often include friends in photos, so before you or your child share these kinds of images, get permission from their parents first in order to avoid trouble down the road. It’s a fact of life that parents and kids clash over control issues, but for minor actors, the importance of parent monitoring cannot be overstated. No one ever said parenting was easy.


The old saying about failing to plan is considered a truism for a reason; it’s true. It might be tempting to take a freewheeling approach to promotion via social media, but a carefully considered strategy is a far more effective way to increase the visibility of your rising star. When choosing people or organizations to follow, do your homework and be highly selective. If something in their profile or web site raises a red flag, just move on to greener pastures. When it comes to posting content, try to establish some sort of consistent schedule around your young actor’s busy life. Encourage them to share updates about auditions, new headshots, fun on the set, or personal successes (and challenges). Giving followers glimpses of personality is a great way to tell your child’s story and spark engagement with your carefully chosen followers.

Slip Ups

Everyone makes mistakes, but for people in the public eye, mistakes made on social media have a way of spiraling out of control. If your young performer is just beginning his/her show business journey, minimizing the effects of poorly chosen words or images may be as simple as clicking on the trashcan icon, but it’s a good idea to help them start off on the right foot. As the parent, you will be monitoring your child’s activity, but when you come across a troubling post, rather than simply deleting it, take the time to help your child consider the potential consequences of every status update and develop good habits that they’ll carry with them throughout their careers.

In addition to being a great marketing tool, social media can also help prepare your child actor for the real life experiences of a working actor. Rejection and criticism are part of the job for performers and anyone else in the public eye, and neither is in short supply on social media. Helping your child understand and separate the constructive from the destructive will serve them well throughout their personal and professional lives.