Parents often pursue modeling and acting auditions for kids as a result of being told that their child “has the look” for the business. In order for a child to be a good candidate for the modeling and acting world, they need to have certain qualities beyond physical attributes. Cute kids are a dime a dozen, but a star child really shines based on their personality. Children look for the fun in everything and having their photo taken or memorizing lines has to be fun for a child for this to be a field worth pursuing.
Auditions for Kids Should Be Comfortable for Your Child
From my experience in the modeling field, ideal child models are excited to audition because they like meeting new people and feel comfortable being put on the spot. When I hold auditions, a lot of children arrive anticipating having their photos taken, because this is what the parents have promised. What they don’t always realize is that the initial interview or interaction at the start of the audition is as important as any photo or recording that may happen thereafter.
Kids going to an audition should be prepared to stand beside mom or dad and not sit in someone’s lap. They should be comfortable looking into the eyes of a new person and answering a question if asked. This can be anything as simple as “What is your name?” “How old are you?” or “What do you like to do for fun?” A child who naturally smiles and is quick to respond shows a certain inner quality that casting directors, agents, and clients are looking for. The child who shies away and hides behind mom’s leg is not ready for a modeling or acting job.
I have met many successful child actors who are not necessarily bubbly at first, but they enjoy reading and are not hesitant to speak aloud or rehearse lines. Often child actors are even serious by nature but intelligent and have a true interest in learning and acting out a role if they can relate to it. Children who like to read make great candidates for acting due to the nature of having to read scripts and memorize lines. They find this to be fun, not homework.
Don’t Coach Your Kids, Let Them Be Themselves
One of the biggest mistakes that I see from parents is “coaching” their kids to make certain gestures when doing a commercial or scene. The child’s delivery should be as natural and unique as possible. Most of the time, whatever that child does naturally is most believable, and that is what strikes a casting director.
Allowing the child to feel he or she has succeeded by his or her own efforts is more rewarding as well and encourages the child to take the next leap into auditioning again. At the end of the day, parents aren’t doing their kids a service by coaching them; There will always be some kind of curveball thrown at the child at the actual time of filming or the follow up audition. Children need to learn to trust their own instincts as acting is a very instinctual business.
Looks Aren’t Everything
I am not saying that looks are not crucial in this industry as they absolutely are. However, there is a market our there for pretty much every type of child whether they have freckles, dimples, scars, heavier stature, braces, or crooked teeth. I have actually seen directors ask kids to keep their braces on until a shoot ends so that they give a realistic depiction of that role.
Kids are ever growing and evolving but each age and stage has its beauty and unique features. As cliché as it sounds, kids should really be themselves. I have seen a lot of child models start in the print side of the business and gradually move on to acting as their comfort level increases and they are more at ease in front of photographers and clients.
Make Sure Your Child Enjoys the Ride
When I audition children I am often surprised by how well a child stands out on film. Certain kids really do light up. As professionals, we have a good eye for who we feel will be marketable, but there is always that moment when you look into the lens and you are pleasantly surprised. That is what makes this business so intriguing. There is a certain magic in the moments of live auditions.
As long as a child can enjoy the magic carpet ride of auditions for kids, and find a comfortable seat on the magic carpet, they will always ask for another ride. That is how a parent can really know if their child is right for the business, if their child asks, “Can I do this again?”