Acting Auditions for Kids & Teens: What You Need to Know
Auditions for kids and teens are plentiful. But you have to know where to look. (And who to talk to...) So let's get started!
What do stars like Natalie Portman, Drew Barrymore, and Leonardo DiCaprio have in common? They were all children when they got their start. And they all had an agent.
Agents and Managers
For adult actors, representation is not as important. It's better to focus on finding auditions and mastering their technique. Getting an agent happens when they're working consistently. It happens when they're ready.
But when finding auditions for kids, they must have an agent first. Why?
Ever been to an open casting call for the Disney Channel? It's a zoo. Everyone and their mother is there. Literally.
(And speaking of Disney, read my article about how to become a Disney Channel actress.)
Agents and managers can save you from that stressful experience by getting you a private audience with the powers that be.
Here's how to find an agent/manager for kids:
1. Do your research. Google acting studios in major cities near you. Call and ask if they teach a class for kids (or teens). If they say yes, it almost always means that they're looking for local talent to sign.
2. Take a class. The studio might offer kids' courses from 6 to 9 weeks long. (This is another good signal that the studio is poaching kids to sign contracts.)
3. Snoop around. Ask questions, seek answers. Someone connected to that studio is an agent or manager. Make sure they know who you are.
4. Be talented. They won't sign just anyone. From a class of 30 kids, maybe 1 will be approached about working with an agent. Make sure it's you.
The strategy is simple: Find the right community and become an indispensable part of it. This is how success works.
If it doesn't work the first time, try again with a different class. Or even a different acting studio. Keep your eyes and ears open. It's easy to become a child actor, you just have to be in the right place at the right time.
Some agents and managers can get you into private acting auditions for teens and kids. Absolutely. But others are just liars and charlatans. Here's how to tell the difference:
They ask for money. If an agent or manager tells you there's a fee for signing his contract, run the other way. Why?
Because agents and managers get a percentage of what you earn as an actor. If they ask for money up front, it means they might take it and disappear.
And the same goes for organizations like ProScout, which promise to set you up with agents and managers.
Hide your checkbook. Period.
Acting Training for Kids & Teens
Kids have a wonderful capacity for imagination. Much better than us adults. And imagination is one of the key components of acting talent.
In my experience, acting classes stifle a kid's ability to imagine. Too much structure and not enough creativity.
"But Adam, you just told me to sign up for an acting class!"
True. But stick to classes like voiceover or commercial technique. Anything that doesn't directly involve acting methods. Plenty of time for that later. Make auditions for kids your first priority.
The musical fable Gypsy is about Mama Rose pushing her daughters to be vaudeville performers. But along the way, she exposes them to adult situations, and destitution.
Mama Rose is the ultimate stage mother: Agressive, domineering, and downright pushy. So what happens to her? She ends up alone, desperate, and abandoned by her family.
A simple word of caution for parents: Make sure you're not confusing your kids' dreams with your own. Don't push them.
The Bottom Line
Auditions for kids are out there. But it's a wild world, and you should only do business with people you can trust. If you follow my advice, you'll be a real working (child) actor!