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May
11

What Happens During Interviews with Talent Agencies?

What to Expect at Interviews with Talent ...

Don't Be Surprised: Interviews with Talent Agencies-gemteck1/Flickr

Interviews with Talent Agencies

It is common for child actors and parents to wonder about what happens during interviews with talent agencies. Interviews with talent agencies can be stressful for both the parents and the children. It is certainly quite helpful to know what to expect before you arrive at a talent agency interview. Neither you nor your child wants to be surprised!

I recall one talent agency interview where my daughter and I did not have our best experience. We’d had a rough morning — we had to check out of our hotel and move to another. As a result, both my daughter and I were hot, tired, and ”stressed out.”

We had recently arrived in Los Angeles, and were living in a hotel until we found an apartment. My husband tried to extend our hotel stay, but mistakenly booked us in a different hotel.We suddenly had to pack up our belongings and move to a different hotel before my daughter’s talent agency interview in the afternoon.

That would not have been so bad except for the results of the traumatic day we’d had a couple of days earlier (see “Are You Ready to Brave the Los Angeles Traffic?” to read about that). The doors on the driver side of our van were unusable, so we had to use the passenger-side doors to load our van. As a result, it took much longer to load all our belongings into the van.

When I finally finished loading the van and tried to start it, the battery was dead. I later realized this occurred because I had to climb out of the van on the passenger side the night before, so the automatic headlights that turn off when the driver-side door is opened, did not turn off!  As a result, the battery died.

I called AAA to come and start the van (I was thankful we signed up for AAA just before our trip). It was July, and even at 11:00, it was already quite warm. My daughter and I were already hot and exhausted from making so many trips between the hotel and the car, and this added even more!

Finally, AAA arrived and started the car. We were able to go to the new hotel, unload enough of our things to get fresh clothes for my daughter to put on, and quickly get her ready. We barely made it over to the talent agency in time for her interview.

When we got to the talent agency, we were given a commercial for her to learn, and I was given papers to fill out. Since she could not read yet, I needed to help her learn the commercial, but I was busy filling out the papers.

The talent agent came to take her back for interviews much more quickly than I expected! I was still filling out papers and had not even helped her learn the commercial yet.  I was totally flustered and embarrassed and asked for more time. After that, I felt rushed and nervous, and both of us had trouble concentrating on the commercial.

Looking back, I know that I should have worked on the commercial first before I filled out the papers since the agent’s time was obviously the most important thing.  I did not expect for the agent to come back to get my daughter so quickly! I know I appeared less than professional, annoyed the agent by making her wait, and kept my daughter from being properly prepared for the interview.

Not only is it important that your child be calm and prepared for an interview, it is important that you, the parent, come across in a positive way. Since your mood rubs off on your child, you have to understand what an effect your behavior and state of mind have on your child. Also, your behavior is being observed by those at the talent agency.

What happens during interviews with talent agencies will vary somewhat based on the sort of talent representation you are seeking for your child, the particular agency, and the individual agent. However, the basic process from one talent agency interview to another tends to be similar.

So, “What Happens During Interviews with Talent Agencies?”

First of all, exactly what happens during interviews with talent agencies is a bit of a mystery to parents since parents are often not allowed into these talent agency interviews.  Your child must be willing to go (without you) to talk with potential talent agents while you sit in the waiting area.  And you must be willing to allow your child to go with them.

Your Child’s Safety Always Comes First, Even with Talent Agencies

This sounds a little frightening, and that is why you must make sure you are meeting with reputable agencies and not unknowns who approach you on the street about representing your child. Before going to an agency meeting, it is essential that you do your homework and make sure it is not a scam or other situation that could put your child in danger, particularly if the talent agent approached you and is not with a well-known agency.

With large and/or established agencies, safety is much less of an issue, but even then, you need to be careful and attentive. If something does not feel right, check it out thoroughly, and only allow your child to go with someone if you feel certain your child will be safe.

Reputable agencies are typically very professional with many people going in and out, open doors, and windows that allow others to see what is happening.  If you are at an agency that has been recommended to you by others in the industry, there is certainly less chance of danger. You do not need to be fearful about allowing a child to interview with agents without you, but it is essential that you feel good about your child’s safety.

What Type of Talent Representation Will Talent Agencies Provide for Your Child?

Know what type of talent representation the agency is considering for your child before the interview occurs. There are a number of different categories, including commercial, theatrical, legitimate (theatre), music, voiceover, and modeling .  Sometimes talent agents represent children across many different categories or sometimes they will represent your child for just a single category. You need to prepare your child for whatever the particular type of talent agent typically will expect from your child.

If the talent agency represents children for multiple categories, your child is likely to meet two, three, or even more different talent agents. Often your child will be interviewing for theatrical (tv/film), commercial, and perhaps for print and modeling. When your child is called in for an interview, ask exactly what representation they will be considering your child for so you can prepare appropriately and know what to expect.

Talent Agencies Want to See a Great Personality

For young children, most talent agencies are primarily looking for a great personality,  but also for certain looks (especially with print and modeling), and the ability for the child to interact with adults and others without parent intervention or supervision. They are looking for that certain something special that draws people to your child (also known as the “it” factor).

This is true with older children as well, but an older child will be expected to have more in the way of skills and experience.

A Commercial

Typically, your child will be given a short commercial to prepare upon arrival, and if he/she is very young, you will need to help with it, particularly if your child does not yet read.  In some cases, you may first be asked if the child has a commercial already prepared. If your child has one ready, it will avoid the stress of trying to learn one quickly in the waiting room. Even if your child is not allowed to use a commercial he or she already knows, just having gone through the exercise of learning a commercial will help with the preparation of the commercial that is given to your child at this time.

The Role of the Parent During Interviews with Talent Agencies

You will probably be given some papers to fill out. You will have to provide some basic information about your child and you, and then possibly fill out a profile on your child’s skills, abilities, and experience.  You should bring headshots and resumes with you (though you probably already gave these to them before your child was called in to the agency) and other photos or a portfolio if your child has one (for print/modeling).

The talent agents may or may not have a chat with you before, during, or at the end of the interviews. Just relax, be friendly and pleasant, and let them see that you are not an obnoxious and domineering type of stage parent. They also want to see how you interact with your child, so don’t talk for your child or tell them what to do. Also, don’t brag incessantly to them about your child. Let your child shine on his/her own.

Talent Agents Will Chat with and Observe Your Child

The talent agent will ask your child some questions and just chat in a friendly way with your child for a little while. They will be likely to ask them about their friends, their families, their pets, what they like to do, and other basic questions. This will help the agent get a good feeling for your child’s personality.

Your child will probably be introduced to two or three or more different people during these agency interviews.  Each of these people may ask your child a number of questions. The agents may also give your child some toys and observe him or her playing with the toys.

Cold Reading and/or Improv

Children may also be asked to do a “cold read” if they are able to read.  A short script will be given to them, and they will be given a little time to read through it, and then asked to act it out with the agent. This is more common for older children. They may also be asked to do a variety of improv exercises where they are asked to pretend and act out some different situations and emotions.

A Monologue

In some cases, your child will be asked to do a monologue. This is just a script for a single person to perform that tends to be about 30 seconds up to about one or two minutes. Children are rarely asked to do this during Los Angeles area talent agent interviews, but in other areas, it is more common. It is a good idea to ask the agency prior to your child’s interview if your child needs to have a monologue prepared.

Singing or Other Talents

If your child is a good singer, make sure they have a short song prepared to sing. The agent may or may not ask them to sing. Your child (or you) can ask to sing it for them. If your child has other special skills, you can bring this to the agent’s attention.

Modeling and Print

If your child is seeking representation for modeling and print, the agent is going to be more concerned about your child’s height, weight, smile, and physical appearance than for other types of representation. The agent may even do some measurements. The agent may have your child walk and pose, and if you have photos or a portfolio of previous work, the agent will want to take a look at those.

Obviously, your child’s look is very important here (understand that this does not always mean beauty), but personality is still important. You are more likely to be allowed to participate in the interviews for modeling and print agents, particularly if you have a portfolio for your child.

How Do You Prepare Your Child for Interviews with Talent Agencies?

In preparing your child for the interviews, make sure that your child knows to answer questions with more than a simple yes or no.  If he/she can think of a funny little story to tell that is related to the questions, that is likely to be entertaining for the agents and give them a more positive feeling about your child’s personality. Also, remind your child to make eye contact with the person doing the interviewing. You can even do some practice interviews just so your child has an idea of what to expect.

Prior to your child’s interviews with talent agencies, have your child learn at least one commercial just in case it can be used rather than a new one. If an agency wants a monologue, make sure your child has one prepared for the interviews.

If you have time and the funds to do so, it is good to have your child work with a professional coach prior to interviewing with talent agencies. A coach can work with your child on commercials, monologues, cold-reading, improv, and on other skills as well as on how your child presents himself or herself to the talent agencies. They can make sure your child is ready to nail the interviews to get a great talent agent.

While how your child is dressed for these interviews is not a major factor, it is a good idea for your child to be dressed in cute and comfortable clothes for the interviews. Do make sure your child is at least least clean and neat, even if he or she is dressed in a tee-shirt and jeans or shorts.

Remember that the most important thing is that your child be friendly, confident, and engaging during the interviews with talent agencies. Don’t put pressure on your child to behave or act a certain way. Help your child to just relax and have fun, as this will allow the talent agent see how special your child really is.

At the end of the interview, one of the agents may talk to you and tell you that they want to represent your child, or they may tell you that they will be in touch later to let you know.  If a talent manager set up the interview for you, they will call to let the talent manager know.

Also, remember that just because one particular agency is not interested in your child, it does not mean that your child does not have what it takes. Different agencies are looking for different things at different times, and one agency may not want to represent your child, but another may be quite interested. If this is something your child really wants, don’t get discouraged; just keep trying.

For more on this and many other topics related to showbiz, subscribe to the Young Actors Newsletter using the form on the right side of this page. You’ll receive free information from “Your Young Actor,” including a mini-course on getting started in showbiz.

To your success,

Debbie Sikkema

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38 comments

  1. Wu@microscope says:

    These days the competition in market has increased so much that the recruiters look for multiple talented children who enhances their business & earn them profits!!! I think your child has must also gone through various such competitors who may be even more enhanced, but I feel till the time competition prevails, children would be grilled like sandwiches!!! :|

  2. Ava@ Car Title Loans says:

    Nothing says Welcome to Los Angeles more than a bad more and more traffic. Your story sounds terrible! I never knew there was so much that went into preparing for an interview, especially for a child. But being that you and your daughter survived those incidents, do you think it made her a little stronger?

  3. Debbie Sikkema says:

    Hi Ava,
    That is so true! I think going through these sorts of experiences certainly does make a child stronger and more able to deal with pressures in life. Thanks for commenting.
    –Debbie

  4. Gareth Brown@satellite internet says:

    I heard from a friend about her experience with her daughter’s auditions. They made the child really comfortable and then made the observations. She was taken away from her mother and left with other children for about two hours. She was asked many questions ranging from home to school and then asked to narrate an incident. She was not given any monologue but asked to make different expressions like happy, sad, angry etc.

  5. Debbie Sikkema says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog. What your friend reported sounds pretty typical, except for the being left with other children for about two hours, which is not something that I think is very typical. It does vary from one agency to another though… I think my daughter was asked to make different facial expressions at one agency interview. Thanks for sharing.
    –Debbie

  6. Marc Derikx@Toronto Used Cars says:

    My son has given seven auditions till date and all of them have been peculiar. The only common thing was voice modulation and facial expressions, but their way of judging them varied from agency to agency. They also looked for confidence and mixing up attitude. They noticed if my son listens attentively and follows instructions. That really mattered a lot to them.

  7. Clark Simm says:

    Yes you are right, going with auditions and interviews is really not a joke. I believe that your daughter will develop at her early age the sense of responsibility with all the things shes been going through.

  8. Debbie Sikkema says:

    Hi Clark,
    Thanks for reading and commenting on youryoungactor! My daughter certainly did develop a strong sense of responsibility through her acting experiences. There are many benefits of pursuing a showbiz career, but what most people hear about is the negatives associated with it, as it really is a very difficult thing to do. –Debbie

  9. Debbie Sikkema says:

    Hi Marc,
    Thanks for your comments! Yes, you are right confidence and listening well are both very important in talent agency interviews, and in auditions as well. The agents can be very different from one to the other — so true. Good luck to you! –Debbie

  10. Leszek Masternak@decorators birmingham says:

    I wonder how to prepare our children for the auditions. They look for a certain attitude and that we cannot build in one day. I want to know how to rehearse so that children do not get nervous during the auditions and be prepared for any odd situation. Like, my child acts well but is the reserved and introvert kinds. He would not gel with other children when left in a group.

  11. Shiliang@student microscope says:

    Hi Leszek, You are right that attitude cannot be build in a day, but the agents may not necessarily look for children who can mingle well. Every role demands a different personality and many a times reserved persons are seen to perform the roles of outgoing personality characters very well! They are experienced persons, so don’t worry because if your child is talented then that would be reflected for sure.

  12. Debbie Sikkema says:

    Hi Leszek,
    I see Shiliang has already answered you here (thanks for your comment, Shiliang). I do talk a good bit about preparing for auditions on my blog (keep reading my posts for more about this) and in my mini-course that you get when you sign up for my newsletter. That certain attitude — mainly confidence — is important. A child needs a lot of confidence. The best preparation I’ve found is participation in good acting classes and participation in other acting events, such as workshops, showcases, and comedy/improv classes. Even a shy child can become more comfortable during auditions with more and more practice and experience. My daughter went through a phase where she got more nervous in auditions — around age 12. A good acting coach or teacher can really help your child a lot in working through nervousness as well. Good luck! –Debbie

  13. Carlos@Auto loan quote says:

    It’s great that you are discussing about shy children, because my child is also one. I want her to give the auditions but when I leave her with somebody then she begins to cry. I don’t mean that she should definitely get selected, all I want is that she should face an audition and learn new things in life instead of crying! Please suggest me how to prepare her at home.

  14. Hayden@kitchen remodeler says:

    Hi Carlos. Well, do not worry, many children change with time and moreover, they are perfect the way they are. It is nice that you want to build her confidence, and as per my personal experience I suggest that you make her recite lines in front of the mirror. Let her get used to this. After a week, give her more lines. Then ask her to say every word differently with modulation. Then work on the expressions. Have a mirror in front of her and ask to perform. I hope it works.

  15. Essence says:

    i want a talent agent i’ve been trying cry so hard to find a legit website i might just give up but i dont want to.im 15 :cry:

  16. Akbar Rosarium@ordering flowers online for delivery says:

    Hi Carlos. Well, you may train your daughter at home but do not pressurize. Sit with her and narrate a poem, then ask her to narrate after you. Try to work on modulation and expressions, and then on memory. Make her watch a TV program and ask her to observe the actor. This would give her a idea about how she need to perform. Let her begin with drama classes before going to the final auditions.

  17. Jay@scrapbooking says:

    As a scrapbooking enthusiast, I would encourage you to document and preserve the memories in a special, designated scrapbook. You’ll treasure it forever and it will be very, very special to your little “star” someday.

  18. Harrison@billet grills says:

    Well guys, you need not worry so much about the selection. Its ok if your child does not make it. Let them experience the interviews and this itself would help them learn and grow in life, rest is secondary. Don’t be upset if they fail to make it because it is good for all. They are kids, let them be that way!

  19. Gerry Evans@best merchant account says:

    Hi Harrison, I agree with you. But kids, they are sensitive and cry when they are unable to make it to the auditions. They day dream and see themselves performing and getting clapped for. I know they need to learn these lessons, but as a parent, it is difficult to see them get hurt and be in pain. I understand they are kids and would forget soon, but still, it hurts me.

  20. Carol@Landscape oil paintings says:

    Don’t worry Gerry, children would forget the ups and downs soon. You just need to be happy and excited in front of them and appreciate them for making the efforts. If possible, ask the agencies the reason for not choosing their child, maybe you should work on the drawbacks and your kid would perform better next time okay :razz:

  21. Theo Magen@new york flowers delivery says:

    Well Carol, we can work on the drawbacks when the agencies tell them to us. They are too busy to give their feedback on each and every child. Luck also matters a lot.

  22. DFW Legal Support@process service says:

    If our children do not get selected it does not mean they are not good actors. Maybe they do not fit into the required role. That is it. Better to move on instead of brooding.

  23. Fiona Samuels@education says:

    Great suggestion Carol, but you know, by the time we get to speak with the agencies they do not remember the reason for not choosing our children. In addition, even if they remember, they would be diplomatic enough to hide it and give a casual reply. All we can do is assume the reason or believe that our child is good but the role demanded a different personality.

  24. Debbie Sikkema says:

    Thanks for all the great comments everyone has posted here! Keep in mind that when it is an agency interview, there is no “role” per se but it is more about whether the agency needs a child of a particular type/look, etc. and whether they think the child is ready or will possibly soon be ready to successfully compete in auditions in the entertainment industry. Of course, if a child is doing well already, the agency may take the child because of the contents of their showbiz reel or credits. For a child just starting out, many factors come into play. Sometimes kids are just not quite ready to audition for major tv/film/commercials just yet. In those cases, working with a trained professional – an acting coach or teacher — can help the child prepare if the child really has an interest and desire to be in the entertainment industry. Sometimes a little maturity as a child gets a little older helps them become ready. Unless it is an open call to see an agency or a huge showcase where there are many kids, an agent is likely to remember a child that interviews with them (unless it is a long time later). Some agents are willing to give you feedback to let you know their opinions of your child and what your child needs to work on. People here in Hollywood can be pretty brutally honest so if you don’t want to hear it, don’t ask. Also, keep in mind it is casting directors initially who are working on casting different roles (the talent agents submit talent for the roles), and when casting directors give feedback, it may or may not be helpful or they may or may not remember a particular child when they see many children for a role. In my experience, many times feedback passed down to talent through a talent manager or talent agent from a casting director can be totally wrong (about another child or just to get the person seeking the feedback off their back)! It has to be annoying to casting directors to get calls for feedback so they have to try to weed through all their notes to find something–especially when they really just want to do their job of casting the roles in the show/movie/commercial! Sincerely, Debbie

  25. linkedin top language jobs says:

    I like the valuable info you supply for your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check again right here regularly. I’m quite certain I will learn many new stuff proper here! Best of luck for the next!

  26. Lisa Waite says:

    I was in the business many moons ago. I am looking to get into the agent business, or scouting.
    I live in Orange County, CA
    ?
    Thank you!
    Lisa

  27. Debbie Sikkema says:

    Hi Lisa,

    That sounds cool. Check out the websites for talent managers association for some useful information. I might have some other sites to refer you to. Let me know what I can do to help. I am not that knowledgeable on this topic but can probably provide you with some references plus get you up to speed on various topics that will be useful for you.

    Warm regards,
    Debbie

  28. Cynthia says:

    Hi Debbie,
    If you have several interviews with talent agencies and one offers a contract do you take it on the spot and skip the other interviews or is it okay to tell the agency you will get back to them? How long will they hold the offer?
    Cynthia

  29. agro-info says:

    I do accept as true with all of the ideas you have offered in your post. They’re very convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are too brief for novices. May just you please extend them a little from next time? Thank you for the post.

  30. Anthony says:

    Thank you very much for your post. I’ll be sure to bookmark it. I just sent an email to a top agent (thank you, Internet!), with some random pictures of my 5 y/o – never expecting any response, and he told me to bring her in as soon as possible. Excitement has given way to extreme nervousness! I had never considered doing this until now, and now I really hope for her success. This blog has definitely calmed my nerves a bit. Thank you all!

  31. Debbie Sikkema says:

    Hi Anthony,
    Congratulations! I am so glad you went ahead and took that step. Good luck with everything, and I hope all goes well for you and your daughter. Please keep me posted and let me know if you have any other questions. I’ll do my best to help!
    To your success,
    Debbie

  32. model comp cards says:

    I think a reputable talent agent should be able to point to people who he has helped to succeed in the past.

  33. Anthony says:

    Thanks again, Debbie! Forgot to post an update. She’s now signed with the agency and we’ve been very happy with them. She’s 5, so we understand things will be slow and steady until she’s 6, but things are going well!

  34. Debbie Sikkema says:

    Hi Anthony,
    That is so fantastic. Congratulations! So glad my information helped you. Five is a great age to start — it gives her some time to get used to everything and be ready to really take off when she turns 6. Keep me posted! And if you have other questions, I’ll be glad to try to help.

    To your success,
    Debbie

  35. Ali says:

    Hey there!
    Just stumbled upon this page. I have a similar story to Anthony. I am a photographer, and have been taking pics of my 4 year old since she was born. I decided to send her photos to a top agency in Vancouver, and we got an email the next day! We are going in on Tuesday!

    This has been really helpful to read!

  36. Diane says:

    My son recently was contacted by a company that after he ” auditioned” asked me for $2900 dollars to train him. Does this sound right to anyone? They say he is talented but it smells of a scam. Idk. What to do?

  37. Anthony Harris says:

    Definitely a scam! A reputable agency won’t charge you a dime. The only thing you’ll possibly have to pay for is your own headshots.

    Good luck!

  38. Debbie Sikkema says:

    Hi Diane,
    Yes, Anthony is right. Sounds like a scam. Never pay so much money up front for training or anything. A reputable company will only receive money from you/your child after he works a job and gets paid. You will often need to pay for headshots and acting classes or coaching, but paying $2900 up front is way too much. Look for a real agent and go to recommended acting classes where you pay for 4 weeks or maybe 8 weeks at a time, often for $150 to $400 (at most) for a class for that time. Paying for classes for a whole year is seldom a good idea because you may not like the class or teacher or they may leave, etc. Good luck! Sincerely, Debbie

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