Bonnie Wallace is the author of THE HOLLYWOOD PARENTS GUIDE, an accurate, experience-based tested information on every step needed to give your child the best possible opportunity to make it in Hollywood. Bonnie includes wisdom, inspiration, and resources to help you on your own journey and even help you decide if this dream is right for you and your family to pursue. Bonnie J. Wallace speaks, writes, and teaches workshops to help parents navigate Hollywood so they can effectively help their child become a professional actor. Mother of Dove Cameron, star of Liv and Maddie, Disney Descendants, Barely Lethal, and more, Bonnie is dedicated to inspiring others on this journey. Bonnie is a Hollywood mom, a small-business owner, and a former nonprofit theater board member. Her book, The Hollywood Parents Guide, is available at Amazon.
Sanity Tips for Parents of Child Actors
There is no shortage of blog posts giving actors advice on how to nail an audition, get an agent, or prepare for a role. But where is advice for the parents of child actors? Cue the crickets.
For many parents of young performers, the path can be lonely and confusing. There is typically little advice on how to manage your sanity and your life while managing your child’s career.
If you are like most parents supporting your kid’s dream of being a professional actor, you are not a native of Los Angeles. You may have left friends and family behind to help your child pursue their passion. This means your support system is elsewhere, increasing your stress.
It’s not uncommon for families to be divided while one parent comes to LA and the other stays behind to manage a job, the house, and maybe other kids. This separation can add even more stress, both emotionally and financially. Two incomes and one household can quickly become one income and two households.
Frequently the designated stage parent is staying with their young actor in temporary and/or very small living quarters to help keep expenses down, which can add to a sense of isolation.
Finally—as if all this were not enough—most parents who take the plunge to help their child follow their dream to be an actor have no industry background themselves, and are starting from scratch in their understanding of a complex and confusing business, while acutely aware that their kid’s childhood is on the line. It’s a wonder that anyone has the courage to do this!
But courage is the operative word, and courage is the key to managing that stress and keeping your sanity throughout this adventure.
If you have the courage to imagine the possibility that your kid has what it takes to be a professional actor, and to act on that belief, then you have the courage to make sure you are having a life here while you pursue that dream together.
Reach out for support and break through any sense of isolation you may have. Get on the phone or use Skype to hear the voices of people you love at home, and then reach out and make the effort (probably like you coach your own child to do) to make new friends here. Other stage parents might be ideal friends—you have a lot in common, after all—or competitive and jealous. Do take a little time to get to know them before going too far in courting their friendship. Most parents of young actors are wonderful people, but yes, there are just enough crazies to give the whole group a bad name.
Actively work to get out of the tiny apartment or room you are renting. Los Angeles may look like a concrete jungle, but it’s full of nature, trails, and beaches. Google is your friend here. Look up every possible thing that sounds fun and is either cheap or free. “Cheap fun things to do in Los Angeles” is a search that will get you started nicely, as it leads to multiple lists.
While you are at it, make sure your kid is engaging in activities that are not 100% about acting. Classes and coaching and auditions are important—they are, after all, why you are here—but life needs to be bigger than just acting and acting-related activities, or your young artist will have nothing to draw on for their art.
If you are going to be here—BE here. You may not know how long you will be in LA—many people come seasonally for years, some try it once and then return home for good, and some come intending a short stay and then never leave. But whatever happens, remember that this is not just your child’s life—it’s your life too. Find the beauty that is here and the adventure will be sweeter, and more fun for both of you.
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