About the author:
Ever wonder what it takes to catch the eye of a busy casting director who sifts through hundreds of resumes for every role? Jen Rudin began her show business career as a child actress before switching sides of the audition room table, and now she is sharing three decades of on-the-job experience in the excellent new book Confessions of a Casting Director. Rudin‘s casting assignments for Disney have included both movies and Broadway musicals including Mary Poppins and The Lion King, and her book offers tips for getting hired in every medium. Given her background, she‘s especially insightful about children in show business. In the excerpt below, Rudin offers no-nonsense advice to parents considering allowing their little ones to launch an acting career. Read on, then click at the bottom to get an exclusive first look at a video clip in which Rudin analyzes the politics of the audition waiting room!
My mother knew how much I loved acting and wanted to help make my dreams come true. But a professional acting career isn‘t like signing up to join the local soccer team. There‘s no set schedule for the season‘s games. A child can audition hundreds of times before getting cast. Parents must be prepared to spend hours driving to auditions, parking, eating, and waiting. Add in the costs of food, tolls, gas, and parking and you see that it costs a lot of money to pursue dreams. Before anything, make sure your child is really passionate about performing and that this isn‘t just something that you want for them.
We all know that the "stage mom" label has negative connotations. As a parent, you must try to stay calm. It‘s hard not to get caught up in the excitement when your child begins to audition. Be careful not to slip into the role of "momager"—mom and manager. Don‘t lose your perspective and become consumed in your child‘s career. At a certain point as your child‘s career progresses, I do recommend hiring a professional to be your child‘s manager or agent, just as I hire a professional accountant to handle my taxes. Be a parent first to your child. Your relationship with your child is far more important than any career in show business.
Audition Dos and Don’ts
I’ve auditioned so many children over the years, and children are either early or late for their appointment, but never on time. There’s a reason we gave you an appointment time. Try to arrive ten or fifteen minutes in advance of your time. Arrive snacked and ready to go. Don’t miss your appointment because you got stuck on the New Jersey Turnpike.
• DO have your child go over their lines ahead of time, ideally with an audition coach. If you can’t meet with an audition coach, please go over the lines with them, but don’t offer your own acting coaching, unless you happen to be a professional actor.
• DO have your child read out loud EVERY DAY for at least fifteen minutes. Turn off the video games and read a chapter out loud every night. I’ve called agents many times to tell them that their client can’t read or may be dyslexic. Believe me, everyone is embarrassed. This situation can easily be avoided. If your child isn’t reading out loud for fifteen minutes a day, another child somewhere else is.
• DO blow your child’s nose (if necessary) before they come into the audition room. I’ve stopped the camera on more than one occasion and brought the parent into the audition room to take care of this.
• DO stop auditioning if your child’s not having fun. Children may return to acting in high school or college if they rediscover their passion for it, but don’t force them to continue doing something they don’t want to do. It’s not worth it if your child ends up resenting you!
• DON’T bring an entourage (or extra relatives) with you. Leave the little ones at home, as strollers can add extra chaos to an already crowded waiting room.
• DON’T hover near the sign-in sheet. Sign in, sit down, and wait patiently for your child’s turn.
• DON’T make your child shake hands with us. Too many germs floating around.
• DON’T bring a sick child to the audition. Ask your agent if there’s an alternate day to audition to avoid passing along a bug to the casting staff.
• DON’T linger at the audition room door trying to listen to your child’s audition. Just relax in the waiting room. Remember, there’s no reason to get hysterical.
From 'Confessions of a Casting Director: Help Actors Land Any Role with Secrets from Inside the Audition Room' by Jen Rudin. Published with permission from It Books/HarperColilns Publishers. © 2014 Jen Rudin