We all think our kid should be a star and in that regard I spoke with author and Casting Director Lisa London about her new book, From Start to Stardom.
1: If your child expresses an interest in performing, what are a few things on any parent’s “must” list?
I would first recommend that the parents get their child involved in acting class or a performing class (could be a singing class, an improvisation class or a scene study class). This is a good way to see if their child really likes it and will follow through with the commitments of a class.
If they do like it, and continue to be enthusiastic about acting, they can check out their local community theater and see if there are opportunities for their child in that arena. Then they could look into agents for kids in their area. We do not encourage families to pack up and move to LA in the beginning of their journey, just because their child keeps saying he wants to be on TV.
2: Is there a way to make a child understand the difference between art and fame?
This is certainly a challenging concept to get across to a young child. But it is so important for them to understand you can’t study to be famous. I think it is important to work on your talent first and foremost. Fame comes in time if that is what is meant to happen. You can only work hard and become the best actor you can be.
3: Is it possible for Hollywood insiders to tell when it is the parents who actually want the fame and not their child?
We discuss this in the interview with an agent. We strongly encourage parents to be sure the desire to pursue a career is their child’s goal and not a lost one of their own. Because sooner or later the child will come to resent their parent for pushing them to do something they don’t like and it will not turn out well for anyone.
I have experienced auditions with kids who really don’t want to be doing this and you can tell by their performance and what they say because they aren’t giving it their all. They would rather be doing sports or something else besides acting.
4: What advice would you give parents on how their children can/should deal with rejection?
Parents should discuss this with their kids upfront before they go on auditions. Don’t take it personally!! What is most important is that your child does the best audition they can, because, as Casting Directors, we always remember a good audition even if they don’t get the role.
A child should have the attitude that it is a fun adventure to meet someone new and have a chance to show their talent…And then after the audition, it’s off to do something else! The last thing a parent wants to do is grill their child on the audition and have them go over and over why they didn’t get the callback or the role.
5: Are there certain steps that parents should take to keep their kids grounded to avoid the pitfalls that many child stars find themselves in?
If they are so fortunate to have such a talented child, it would mean the child has been getting parts and building their career for a while. This is when the work needs to be done. As they are becoming successful, it’s important to stay in very good communication with your child and the rest of the family, so you don’t get caught up in all the hype!
Being on a set, child actors are given lots of attention and special privileges. They have candy and junk food available to them all day. If a parent doesn’t run good control over what the kid can have, or keep their head on their shoulders, it can be disastrous. Putting in this discipline early will create an atmosphere of care and attention from the parent that will ensure them to be the voice of reason to their child and help keep them from making disastrous choices later in life.
About Lisa London:
Daughter of one of Hollywood’s most successful TV directors, Jerry London, Lisa London grew up on her father’s sets, experiencing the demands of directing and acting first-hand. She has worked with major studios and networks, including Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Happy Madison Productions, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, VH1 and many more.