From the Cast It Blog Vault: Finding Representation for Your Child

Acting as a child can be both the best path to success as an actor and also the path to great heartache.  Choosing the right agent to lead your child and your family through the labyrinth of Hollywood can make all the difference.  Take this advice from a Hollywood Casting Professional:

In this post, I’ll address three issues parents should examine when choosing a representative for their little actor:

Should you go with an agent, a manager, or both?

When making this decision, the first important thing is to understand the difference between what an agent does and what a manager does. An agent typically negotiates the deals and takes 10% of the overall salary. A manager usually takes an additional 15%, but is not legally allowed to negotiate deals. Rather, (good) managers are instrumental in looking at the big picture of an actor’s career, and shaping its long-term direction. There are so many agencies that specialize in representing child actors that a manager may not be necessary. If however, you, the parent, feels strongly about a long-term plan for your child, then hiring an agent and manager is best. This strategy is important because, for example, a manager can be very helpful in mapping out your child’s transition from child to adult actor. If you’re not sure that your son or daughter will continue acting after a few years, then a manager may not be necessary.

Where should you go for advice once you have a few offers?

Once you have a few offers from agents and or managers who would like to represent your little guy or gal, I would apply similar rules to that of the dating game—USE YOUR INSTINCTS. If something feels off, it probably is. Beyond that, keep in mind that you are the one hiring them; they are not hiring you. It is also exceedingly important to choose someone with whom you feel very comfortable. They should have your child’s best interests at heart. If you are not comfortable spending time with the agent or manager (both on the phone and in-person), then they are not the right fit for your child.

What are the first things you, the parent, should do once your child has representation?

Once you choose and hire the representative(s), have a detailed conversation with them about your expectations and goals for your child’s career. If there is certain material that makes you uncomfortable (e.g., scripts with mature content or language or certain religious themes, etc.), then this should be discussed before any appointments are given. Within your own family, you and your child should discuss their hopes and dreams for their career. I believe in the “Magic Wand Theory”—if your child was able to wave a magic wand and get exactly what they wanted out of acting, what would it be? If the child is very young, then it’s up to the parent(s) only. Either way, parents should ask themselves questions such as: Do we want to do theater, film, or television? Do we want to work with certain directors? What do we want our child to get out of this experience? The answers to these questions will start to take you in the right direction.

My final piece of advice is: don’t be afraid to dream big. I believe you should first reach for stars, and then see what happens!

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Joanna Colbert began her career as a casting director in association with Juliet Taylor on Interview with a Vampire for which she conducted a nationwide search resulting in the discovery of Kirsten Dunst. Colbert then went on to work at Universal Pictures as the Manager of Casting and then Senior Vice President of Casting, overseeing such blockbusters as The Mummy series, American Pie, Meet the Parents, and Bruce Almighty. She formed Joanna Colbert Casting in 2001 and Colbert/Mento Casting in 2006. Her credits include: No Strings Attached, the Step-Up series, Cedar Rapids, The Mummy, Everything Must Go, Hollywoodland and The Good Girl. Colbert is currently producing several projects, including a documentary about casting and its influence on film titled Casting By, a feature film titled Atticus Run, The Black Version tv series and Kate McClafferty’s blog, 356 til 30.

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