Aug 03

What Does a Child Give Up to Become a Child Actor?

Los Angeles Traffic - The Newhall Pass

Image by respres/Flickr, Spend Hours in Traffic to Become a Child Actor

When we decided to help our daughter become a child actor, we did not think much about the cons of acting — instead we were focused on giving our daughter the opportunity to do what she seemed to enjoy most — entertaining others.

At the same time, helping her become a child actor seemed like an exciting and fun thing to do. And Los Angeles seemed like a cool place to be. (See “What Should You Do If Your Child Wants to Become a Child Actor?” and “Should You Move to Los Angeles for Your Child to Become a Child Actor?”  for more on this topic.)

As we started our journey into show business, we knew there would be some sacrifices, but it was not until we moved to L.A. and began auditioning that we started to really understand the sacrifices.

A Birthday Party

I remember one particular time when my daughter was 7, and she was invited to the birthday party of one of her best friends at school.  It was a pool party, and all of her friends were planning to be there. She was so excited that she could hardly think or talk about anything else.

An Audition

When the phone rang the day before the party, and it was her talent manager, my heart sank. As I feared, my daughter’s manager informed me of an audition scheduled at the same time as the birthday party.

It had been a while since my daughter’s last audition, and I knew I really needed to agree to it.

Perhaps I should have turned it down, but instead I asked if we could change to a later time.  I was able to postpone it for two hours, but it still meant she’d have to leave the party early.

I dreaded telling my daughter about the audition and wondered how I could get her to rehearse her lines, much less be cheerful and happy in the audition.

Changing Plans

When I told her, first she said “No, I am not going!”   She was very upset, but after a few minutes of thinking, she seemed to understand that it was something she needed to do. She immediately began working on learning the lines for the audition.

I still remember having to tell the mother of the birthday girl that we’d be leaving early for an audition. I also remember how she looked at me when I told her.  Most people really don’t understand about this sort of thing.

Doing What You Have to Do

When I arrived back at the party to pick up my daughter, she was in the pool laughing and playing with her friends, and I hated having to take her away from this.

I still remember how sad she looked when she saw me there. But she got out willingly, and then, amazingly, cheerfully left with me.

Making Plans is Difficult

This was only one of so many occasions when plans were made with friends and then had to be canceled due to auditions.  Sometimes I was almost afraid to make any plans for my daughter for fear of an audition resulting in us having to cancel.  I even started warning the parents whenever plans were made that if an audition came up we’d have to cancel.

Some of the other parents and I joked about it saying we needed to make plans to go somewhere if we wanted our child to get an audition.

Interference with plans made is just one of a number of things that a child has to deal with when they become a child actor.

Have you thought about what your child will give up to become a child actor?

What does a child give up to become a child actor?

Before you make a decision to help your child become a child actor, you really should take some time to think about what your child will give up.  There are so many factors to consider, especially if you are contemplating moving to L.A. or New York.

One major factor to consider is what the personal costs of an acting career will be to your child and to your family.

Fifteen negative consequences of pursuing an acting career are that you/your child may:

  1. Have less time for leisure activities/playing, spending time with friends, and relaxation.
  2. Have less time for homework.
  3. Miss school for auditions, coaching, jobs, and events and possibly get behind in school work.
  4. Spend many hours on the road traveling (See “Are You Ready to Brave the Los Angeles Traffic?”).
  5. Have to frequently change and cancel plans.
  6. Have less time for activities such as dancing classes, sports, music lessons, etc., and may frequently have to miss lessons/practices/games/classes if enrolled in any activities.
  7. Miss family and friends if a move is made to pursue an acting career.
  8. Be viewed by many as different and feel like somewhat of a loner at times.
  9. Have to miss planned events and trips, often canceling at the last minute.
  10. Be unusually concerned about their appearance and unable to change looks without approval from representation.
  11. Incur great expenses for classes, headshots, coaching, travel, and other necessary items.
  12. Be obligated to go to auditions even when not in the mood for it or when it is inconvenient — due to the commitment you have made to a talent agency and/or manager.
  13. Be disliked or mistreated by teachers and administrators due to missed school and perhaps getting behind on schoolwork.
  14. Be treated unkindly by some kids who may be jealous or not accepting of what you do.
  15. Have a lot of late nights and become exhausted due to preparing for auditions, going to coaching, rehearsals, auditions, and jobs while still keeping up with schoolwork.

This is just the things that come to mind right now, and I am sure I could think of additional negatives.

This is not to say that there are not plenty of positives for a child who decides to become a child actor.  Believe it or not, there really are many positives as well!  Some of these will be discussed in future posts.

For more information on this and many other topics related to children and show business, please subscribe to Your Young Actor’s Newsletter. You’ll also get a 12-part mini-course in getting started in show business when you do.

To your child’s happiness and success,

Debbie Sikkema

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  1. Amy Rich@web directory

    😐 I am glad that you are not forcing your daughter to do it, its totally her wish! Many parents juts dont care about there child’s feelings but i think this Child actor thing should be maintained, i mean a child should never become a full time actor,There must be certain days assigned for shootings and auditions during the week and rest of the time should be utlised as per the child wishes, W should not deprive of our child from his/her childhood. ❗

  2. Adrienne@Custom Photo Invitations

    I am debating right now if we should pursue an acting/modeling career for my daughter. She has appeared in a couple of shows and she loves it, but I don’t want her to miss out on having a normal childhood. Your article has given me a lot to think about.

  3. Peter

    I added your blog to bookmarks. And i’ll read your articles more often!

  4. Bunker

    I liked it. So much useful material. I read with great interest.

  5. Debbie Sikkema

    Thanks for reading on my site, Peter! –Debbie

  6. Debbie Sikkema

    Yes, it is important to maintain a good balance between acting and real life. As my daughter has gotten older, her schoolwork is particularly important to her, so we let that be her main focus. She also wants to spend time with her friends, and I don’t want to deprive her of those things, so we don’t do as much auditioning as we used to. It is important to let your child take the lead in determining how much acting to do, and if your child wants to stop acting altogether, there is no shame in quitting! For those kids who become stars, it is a much harder job for a parent to try to help them have a normal life. Thanks for reading and commenting. –Debbie

  7. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Adrienne,
    You are doing the right thing to think long and hard about this. I think you can find a balance and just not take the whole acting thing too seriously. Don’t push it. Just let it happen naturally without going crazy and being too serious about it. Certainly, don’t rush into moving your family without a lot of thought. Be sure to read my other posts about becoming a child actor and auditioning as you think more about it. Hope my information helps! –Debbie

  8. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Bunker, Glad you liked it! –Debbie

  9. Brown

    In truth, immediately i didn’t understand the essence. But after re-reading all at once became clear.

  10. John

    that must be tough, i don’t know if i could make a child of mine do something like this, it would have to be their choice.

  11. Jim@Car Games

    Hey you daughter is lucky that she has such good parents. Parents play a very important role in shaping the career of their children. I know she might be missing a lot other things which are important for her in this age,her studies,play,friends etc. But its really very good that she is determined from now what she wants to do and she is doing it wholeheartedly.Once she’ll get into this habit,then she’ll cope up with all other important things in her life surely.And you guys are there behind her to help her out. 😉

  12. Clemento

    Very interesting and amusing subject. I read with great pleasure.

  13. Cabo San Lucas Vacations

    This may seem strange but I couldn’t see the image above, I am using FireFox 2. anyways, what I read was very good and I enjoyed it. I was thinking about print it out, do I have permission to do that?

  14. stephanie

    I wish my parents were as supportive as you. I’m 15 and I feel like I’m ready to start submitting to agents and going on auditions, but my parents don’t think I can handle people’s negativity. I wish they could just see how passionate and driven I am about acting because since I’m still a minor, they have to do practically everything for me.

  15. Amy

    does anyone know the actual laws regarding a child actor missing school for an audition or for work? If your child has a work permit do they have to excuse them or what? I can’t seem to find any information on this. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

  16. loans

    I found you blog on google and i enjoy reading it. I’m sure I’m gonna read your next posts .keep up the good work! If interested in link exchange contact me!

  17. dezinsectie

    Foarte interesant.

  18. Tanmay@indian instrumental

    You explained the topic very well.All the things are dependent on the content of the website.
    thanks for sharing information …


    Very nice information. Thanks for this. You really have a very informative site, thank you for sharing!

  20. Carrie

    I am just amazed at the thoughtfully detailed information you have provided. I’ve debated for years about how to best support my daughter in her acting pursuits, and this blog is tremendously helpful in answering questions on all the possibilities. Would love to see an entry on how to “test the waters” in LA while living in another state. She’s interested in that now…

  21. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Carrie,
    Thanks for the compliments. I am glad the information is useful to you. Many people do pursue an LA career from other places, and we’ve had many friends to do it that way. Yes, that is a good idea to put some posts on that topic. Getting some experience at home and then being ready and willing to travel is going to be essential. Are you interested in trying to visit for some period of time and go to auditions, or are you more interested in submitting tapes from where you are and going to an audition if called in? I am thinking you are in Seattle? The industry is much more spread out now so there are jobs in many places other than LA. –Debbie

  22. Mary Sias

    I am so glad to read your article. We have been doing this for a couple of years, and it is a “lonely” world. People don’t understand, and are too jealous to want to! It’s hard to treat your kid “normal” somedays also! Glad you understand!

  23. Michelle Proctor

    Dear Debbie; My son has been researching acting every night and practicing. He really wants to move to l.a. We dont have that big of a family and he is willing to give up anything. The only problem is the cost. I am a single parent. What should I do?

  24. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog! The path to becoming an actor is difficult. I don’t encourage people to come to L.A. for a few reasons. There are many opportunities, but the competition is fierce. It is best to try to start a career where you live or in a smaller market first and see how it goes.

    Becoming an actor is expensive — training/coaching and headshots are not cheap, and you need money for gas, lodging, and food. LA is an expensive place. As a single parent, taking on these expenses won’t make sense unless your son has been hired for a large job here or is working regularly in a smaller market and has experience and training to put on a resume. He should at the very least have a very good agent lined up. I do understand your desire to help your son, but you are smart to think about the costs associated with it. If you are determined to come here, it will be important to save up enough money to pay your expenses for a few months and to find a good job in the area before you get here. Otherwise, you will be worrying so much about your finances that you will not be happy here and won’t be able to afford his acting career.

    Do you live near a big city where there might be opportunities? Have you looked for an agent where you live? Does he have a local agent? There might not be as many auditions, but there will be a lot fewer kids auditioning for them in places other then L.A. and NYC. Then, if your child is successful locally, coming to L.A. might make sense.
    How old is your son, and what has he done so far?
    Warm regards,

  25. michelle

    My son is 12 years old. And he has done several local theater plays to prove to me that he is serious about this. I can really tell he loves it! Is public transportation reliable in L.A. to get to auditions?

  26. Nicole

    My name is nicole I’m 15 and may i say Wow! this really sounds amazing an and amazing opertunity an id do anythin to get an acting career like this but there are lots of teens out there like me who would love this opertunity to and I’m sure everyone deserves this once in a life time thing
    Just put my name down and hope for the best
    I’m 15 I’ve been in school musicals played more then one character
    And I have drama lessons and really really good at improv and I’m really interested and 100% commited
    I live in Australia Adelaide but will be willing to go any were for a audition
    I’ve researched and tried to find opatunitys like this for ages and nothing has come up until now and I have things planed out
    Thanks for readying Nicole
    Pleae get back to me on what I should do or my next step

  27. Debbie Sikkema

    Hi Nicole,
    Sounds like you are doing all the right things. When you get old enough, you can plan to visit LA but remember that it is always best to pursue acting where you live. It is not a good idea to take off to LA without a job or at the very least a good talent agent. Keep doing what you are doing, look for opportunities in your area, and good luck in the future. –Debbie

  28. Natalie

    I’m considering being homeschooled. I’m a teen, soon turning 14. Do you have any advice for any other aspiring child actors on how to bring up to subject to their parents, and how to discuss the other aspects in becoming a child actor?

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