how to become a child actor with no experience

How can I tell if my child should be an actor?

It’s not uncommon for kids, at some point, to declare to their parents: “I want to be on TV!” But how can you tell if this is just a passing fancy—or something deeper? There are a few telltale signs that your child’s interest in acting is genuine, according to acting coach Denise Simon. “They’re regularly performing around the house, to real or imaginary audiences,” she says. “They’re talking about movies and plays and asking how they can star in them. When there is a play at school or in the community, they’re the first to volunteer for a ‘big part.’ They sparkle on stage or in front of a classroom, perhaps even getting into trouble for being the class clown. If there is a spotlight anywhere nearby, your child wants to be in it.”

how to become a child actor with no experience

A passion for acting is a key ingredient—but it’s not the only thing a child needs to be ready to act professionally. Here are four ways to tell if your child is ready for a career in Hollywood, according to Backstage Expert Mae Ross: 

  1. Your child is well-behaved. They must be able to act professionally on set alongside adults and other child actors.
  2. Your child is responsible. They’ll likely miss school sometimes for auditions and bookings, so it’s important that they can follow up on what they missed and stay on top of homework. 
  3. You have the time, patience, and energy to assist your child. If you’re successful, you’ll be the central contact person for booking and audition information—and it’s a lot to keep track of!
  4. You and your child are both ready for an adventure. A professional acting career is a journey, and it should be fun for both of you along the way!

At the end of the day, you know your child better than anyone. Do they usually follow through with other new interests or hobbies? How easily do they adapt to change? Can they thrive under pressure and in constantly changing circumstances, or is a regular schedule important to them? How has your child coped with hearing “no” in the past? Most importantly, has your child demonstrated their love for acting more than just about everything else? “Like any business, show business has its challenges and requires commitment and dedication,” says Ross. “If your child truly loves to act, then the amount of work that she needs to put into every audition and role won’t matter. She’ll be having fun!”

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What is the best age to start an acting career?

There’s no “best” age for your child to start acting, but you can expect different casting opportunities depending on how old they are. Child actors between the ages of 8 and 11 are typically the most desirable for agents and managers, according to acting coach Denise Simon, since there are so many roles available for this age range—but here’s what you can anticipate with child actors of any age:

  • 0-4 years old: Your baby is adorable, of course. You get stopped on the street asking if you have ever considered putting them in the business. If your little one is personable, separates easily from you, and you are willing to do the schlepping, go for it. You don’t have to spend money on classes or professional photos; snapshots work fine at this age.
  • 5-7 years old: This age group is just grasping the concept of reading, so encourage your young actor to read out loud—but make sure they’re exploring their imagination and having fun, too. An improv class or game-inspired acting class is the way to go at this age, while being careful of over-coaching. 
  • 8-11 years old: Agents and managers love when I recommend an actor ages 8 to 11. His voice is unchanged, he’s disciplined enough for long work hours, he’s reading, he’s not old enough to have developed acne, and he’s still the height of a child. There are a plethora of roles for kids this age in all mediums, and agents are hungry to represent them—especially if they can act!
  • 12-15 years old: Puberty has struck, and your little girl is no longer a child. She may start doubting herself, lacking the easy confidence she had at a younger age. Now is a great time to take classes and master skills beyond her natural ability. Roles are no longer available in theater; she’s too tall to play a kid but not old enough to handle the maturity and skill some roles require. There is still plenty of work in commercials and TV and film. Get experience working in student films and start to build a demo reel.
  • 16-18 years old: Your teen doesn’t need someone to drive him to auditions anymore, but he still needs a tutor and there are working restrictions on set. There are plenty of 18-year-olds who can play younger, and it won’t cost the production company money for tutoring. If your teen wants to further his acting career, this is a great time to study and prepare for college theater auditions—getting into a good program is more competitive than ever.

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