5 Essential Things to Teach Your Child Actor

We talk a lot on this blog about how to further your own career, but what if you’ve got a young rising star at home? Being the parent of a child who is interested in starting their acting career early is a difficult road to navigate, especially if you have limited experience in the industry. Having spent a lot of time teaching and coaching young actors at varying ages and levels of experience, here are five things I have found will help set them up for success.

  1. Handling Rejection. It’s a hard lesson to learn at any time, and certainly at a young age, but knowing how to gracefully handle rejection without internalizing it is crucial to learn early on. It will help prevent burnout and loss of confidence, and will enhance their reputation for professionalism. Encourage them to reframe how they view auditions. Each one can be seen as gaining experience rather than losing a part. Help them de-personalize the rejection. Most of the time it has nothing to do with skill and everything to do with type or outside factors. Training them early on to take rejection in stride will go a long way toward career longevity.
  2. Professionalism. It’s never too early to learn this one. The tough thing about acting is that there are so many different environments through which they will travel professionally, and each has it’s own set of rules and expectations. Theatre is different from film, and auditioning is a separate beast entirely. Try to get some advice from people in the industry. If you don’t have the connections, work on communication skills, and ability to take direction. Being readily available, prepared, and easy to work with can take you far.
  3. Memorization. This is a skill you can work on developing, and you may as well start early. No matter what area of acting you’re pursuing, good memorization skills will give you a leg up.
  4. Charisma. If your child is serious about stepping into the industry, they will be interacting with a lot of adults. Being comfortable enough around strange adults to “be yourself” is a crucial skill to have. You want your kid to be able to walk into an audition without getting intimidated, and to be able to let their personality shine through unhindered from the moment they step in the door. First impressions are key, and building their confidence and social skills will help.
  5. Patience. So much of acting, especially film work, is dependent on stamina. The on-set experience is very much an exercise in hurry-up-and-wait. Teaching your child to be self- reliant and patient will help them fit into the professional environment.
  6. BONUS: Self-Awareness. This is something that often comes with maturity, but it’s good to encourage it early on. The actor’s body, voice, imagination, personality—these are all tools, and the better we are at wielding them with control, the more efficient we are at our jobs. Encourage your kid to take note of their feelings, so they can recall them later. Encourage emotional accessibility. Help them practice interesting vocal choices. Expanding their experience to include physical activity or any sort of vocal training can help them feel in command of the tools at their disposal (as well as rounding out their special skills).

Of course, getting professional training, exposure, and representation are key to building a career. But if you’re looking for ways to help at home, these are some good foundational skills every young actor should cultivate.

 

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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at www.rachelfrawley.com

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