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Susie Mains, (www.susiemains.com) a Hollywood talent manager, has discovered and nurtured the careers of many of the world's most luminous young stars and celebrities.
by Susie Mains
Walking into that first audition is so exciting! A lot of preparation has gone into this moment - getting a manager, getting an agent, shooting headshots, perhaps a round of acting classes. Finally your child is in that lobby ready to audition as a professional actor for a commercial, a movie, or a TV show. Sitting there with all the other candidates until they call little Stella or Jake's name can be unnerving. Then off they go into the room alone - on their first job interview- and they may be only 5 or 6 years old!
TIP ONE: One of the most important things your child should know is to never respond to a question with a simple yes, no, or I don't know. They should always elaborate - never giving one-word answers. Casting directors are usually not interested in what their actual answer is but rather are looking to see the child's personality, spark, and confidence. Sometimes an entire commercial audition will consist of a simple question, such as “What is your favorite holiday?” Three children might answer differently. One might simply say “Halloween.” One might say, “All of them” and one might say, “Oh I can't wait for Thanksgiving! I am learning to bake and this year I get to make the dessert and I plan to make tiramisu and wear a pilgrim costume.” Who would you cast? The kid who is having fun, is excited, and super comfortable, of course. The child who makes you smile!
TIP TWO: First timers often get thrown when they are asked to do something again and in a different way. This is not criticism, but in fact, quite the opposite. Your child should know that it is a positive sign if they are asked to make adjustments. On a set, changes happen all the time so being able to take direction is huge. Another important thing to tell your child is to listen, listen, listen to what they are asking him to do and to do it just that way.
TIP THREE: Auditions may also involve scripts. It could be a commercial with just a few lines, but it could be a few scenes if it is for film or TV. Being prepared and being “off book” (having the script memorized) is professional. Your child should hold the script in their hand, but only refer to the script if absolutely necessary. This is why your child is there - to show the casting director, director, and producers that she can do the work.
TIP FIVE: If you are on top of all of the above, your child and you have no reason to be nervous. Still it can be challenging to stay calm. Florence Henderson, of “Brady Bunch” fame recently told me that she still gets nervous when she auditions. Some nervousness is good if it turns to energy in the audition room. As for you, as a parent, just stay attentive to your own child and that will keep you distracted from your own anxiety.
Remember, there will be lots of other kids brought in for the same role. Everyone has worked hard to get there and it is best to have your child stay focused on what she is there to do. It is natural to want to look around and check out the competition. I very often will have a parent call me and say, “My child will NEVER book this job! The kids are all so much taller, or they are all redheads, or they are so much younger than little Jessica.” Or “Jacob was in there only 2 minutes but everyone else was in there 5 minutes.” And then they are completely shocked when their child books the job. Remember let the casting director do the casting. You have to trust in the process and believe in your team - the agent and manager who sent your child on this audition in the first place.
Dr. Phil pointed out, when I was on his show last month, that auditions are wonderful opportunities. I couldn't agree more. Each one is like a golden ticket to an exciting new experience. Enjoy your first!!
Susie Mains, (www.susiemains.com) a Hollywood talent manager, has discovered and nurtured the careers of many of the world's most luminous young stars and celebrities. The go-to person on Showbiz Kids, Susie has appeared on The Dr. Phil Show, Showtime, Entertainment Tonight, and The TV Guide Network. She's been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, Backstage West, Daily Variety, People and E! Online and is a frequent guest on news broadcasts and national radio programs.
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