Industry Voices: Part 2 of Our Interview with Denise Simon

When you think about the team of people who support a young actor’s career, a broad group of professionals come to mind: Directors, coaches, casting directors and agents all fill important functions in the success of a child performer. But let’s not forget about the critical role that parents play in supporting, protecting, encouraging, and overseeing their children’s acting careers.


In part 2 of our interview with Denise Simon, an industry veteran and author of Parenting in The Spotlight: How to raise a child star without screwing them up, we talk about how parents can help a young actor maintain a healthy, happy childhood while achieving success in the industry. As Denise shared in Part 1 of our interview, “The vast majority of child actors I have known grew into accomplished, successful adults — and a lot of that is thanks to their parents.”


In Part 2, we explore more about the parental connection and support system. Here is the conclusion of our interview:


On Location Education: How do you define a "stage parent"? Are there differences in "stage" fathers and mothers as to how they approach the business on behalf of their children? 
Denise Simon: The role as a parent of a child actor is to parent them, protect them, and ensure they are given the nurturing and support required to work in a stressful business. A parent is the best advocate. A parent who tries to micromanage their child’s career or work in opposition to what the agent or manager is doing is what gives them the negative connotation, stage parent.


OLE: What organizations, aside from a family's intra-support team, do you consider essential for the well-being of the children in the entertainment industry?
DS:  I believe actors should lead a balanced and well-rounded life. Other activities like sports, music, philanthropic endeavors all help a child become interesting. Interesting, unique actors will be more sought after. I also think socialization with other children is extremely important. Kids should have a regular childhood even though they are pursuing an adult business.


OLE: If you could approach the industry differently because of what you know now, how would you?
DS: I was a child actress myself. If there was a book like mine my parents might have had more knowledge on how to support my career. Parents make costly mistakes based on hearsay from other parents and scammers.


OLE: As children work more and more in the industry, what three steps do you see as essential for their support systems? Suggested categories: Legal? Financial? Educational? Family values?
DS:
Number one is family support. A working child actor affects the entire family and each family member should be on board with the commitment it takes to pursue a professional career. Second is education. The industry looks for balanced and smart actors. How can an actor understand a character from a different culture or time period without some knowledge of history? And three is building a strong team. Hiring the right team that meet’s your family’s needs is important. Team members include
agent, manager, acting, singing and dance coaches, entertainment attorney, tax advisor and publicist.

To learn more about Denise, visit her website at: http://denisesimoncoaching.com/

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Industry Voices: Part 1 of Our Interview with Denise Simon

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Denise Simon knows a thing or two about the entertainment industry. She’s been an actress, teacher, director, casting director and personal talent manager. A frequent contributor to industry publications, she’s most recently added book author to her list of roles.


Denise’s book, Parenting in The Spotlight: How to raise a child star without screwing them up, provides the practical information parents need before helping their child launch a career in entertainment. On Location Education recently had the privilege of speaking with Denise about her book and the entertainment industry.


On Location Education: What motivated you to write your book? 
Denise Simon: The media likes to hype the stories of child stars who struggled or crumbled under the pressure. However, in my thirty years of experience in this business, I have seen just the opposite. The vast majority of child actors I have known grew into accomplished, successful adults — and a lot of that is thanks to their parents. Included in the book is vital how-to information as well as more than 75 life lessons that kids will glean from pursuing their acting dreams, plus interviews with industry professionals and actors who made the transition from child performer to successful adults in and out of the business. I wanted to share with parents that even if their child doesn’t end up pursuing a career in show business the lessons and skills learned along the way are invaluable.


OLE: How is your book different from others on the market that deal with the subject of children in show business?
DS: There are many books on the market dealing with this subject written by parents of child actors, casting directors, agents and managers. For over 30 years I have worn many hats working with child actors and their families as a personal talent manager, acting coach and consultant and most recently a life coach. As a certified life coach, I work with clients of all ages to help them find balance and satisfaction in their lives. My life-coaching skills give me insight into clients’ needs. For parents of young performers, this means guiding them to be more effective in their roles as advocates for their children. My training helps me understand that in the process of pursuing an acting career, children can develop their character and abilities in ways that impact them positively throughout their lives. With my assistance, children learn meaningful life lessons that they take with them to whatever careers they choose later. The book is not just a “how to” but it talks about the many benefits children learn along the way.


OLE: Do you welcome the many different points of view of child performers and their perspectives on the world of entertainment, or do you feel that other authors do not "get" the basic tenets of the industry?

DS: Of course, I welcome different viewpoints and perspectives. Everyone is speaking from their own personal experience. Many books written by parents will speak about their personal journey as a parent. I have worked in many areas as an actress myself, a director, casting director, acting teacher and coach and I speak from all that experience. I mention in the beginning of the book that many of my colleagues have written books and parents should read them all. I have personally learned from many different teachers and mentors throughout my life. My motto is “take what you like and leave the rest.”


OLE: How should parents define "success" for their children? Is it booking the job? Is it getting a "call back"? Is it the intermingling with adult celebrities?
DS: As a parent myself I define success for my children when they are feeling good about themselves, growing with confidence and knowledge and becoming more disciplined, independent, and responsible.


OLE: How is show business different from, say, the pursuit of team sports, or other after-school activities that children engage in?
DS: The collaboration piece is similar. In sports, one must work with other team members just like other actors in a production or on set, and take direction and listen to those in charge. A working child actor who gets paid is an adult thing and is similar to a working young athlete. Working actors who achieve success are in the public eye and kids may struggle with leading a “normal” life. I have had clients who have told me that kids treat them differently now that they are famous.


In Part 2 of our interview with Denise Simon, we discuss parents’ role in a young actor’s career and other industry insights.


To learn more about Denise, visit her website at: http://denisesimoncoaching.com/

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Lights – Camera – Action – Yikes!!! Simple tips to overcoming stage fright

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If you are the parent of a child performer, you may have experienced the following scenario:
 
Your young actor has been working diligently on his lines. With each run-through, he is getting closer to perfection. What a brilliant delivery! In your mind, you rearrange the mantle to make room for his soon-to-be-won Emmy. And now, it’s show time! He takes his place on the set, the Director barks, “Action!” But instead of the impeccable performance you’ve seen in rehearsal, you see a blank stare turn into a wide-eyed panic. A true Ralph Kramden “Chef of the Future” moment. (Can it core an apple??)
 
Been there? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Stage fright is experienced by many young performers, especially when they are inexperienced on stage or in front of the camera. But there is no need to fret. The following tried-and-true techniques have turned many a panicked performer into a confident, calm kid. Give them a try!

Practice in the Big Picture

How does your child prepare for a performance or audition?

While memorizing lines, rehearsing scenes with a parent or coach, and practicing in front of a mirror will help ready young actors for their roles, there is a key element missing from these methods: An audience!

To minimize the potential for stage fright, create an environment that will simulate the feeling of being on stage or in front of the camera. If your young actor has limited performing experience, invite other family members or friends to play the part of the audience while your child practices. Set up a camera and record practice sessions. After building confidence in delivering solid performances in front of others, your child will feel more relaxed when it’s show time.

Keep It in Perspective

Of course, mom and dad are in the audience to see their child perform; but for the rest of the audience, they are there to see a story unfold. Understanding that the actor’s performance is merely a component of the overall production will help to keep the situation in the proper perspective. Teach your young actor that the focus of the audience will be on his or her character within the context of the story. This is true for audiences of five or 500. Providing a new viewpoint will help your young actor conquer the panic. 

The Power of Positive Thinking

At the heart of stage fright is the fear of failure. Whether it’s worrying that her performance will fall short or she will forget her lines or trip over her own two feet, the panic rises as she plays the worst-case scenarios in her mind.

Training one’s mind to focus only on positive thoughts is a skill that requires practice and determination. When approaching any task or challenge, having the proper mindset is the key to successful outcomes. Work with your child to focus on optimistic thoughts, and the positive energy will help to allay nervousness and minimize the fear of failure.

Show Up Early and Ready

Your child is already nervous; don’t compound those jitters by rushing in the door just a hair before call time. Plan to arrive early and let him get comfortable in the space of the venue. Help create a pre-performance routine that calms the nerves: yoga, deep breathing, listening to favorite tunes, or any other soothing activity that helps your young performer relax.

Welcome the Butterflies

It’s okay to be nervous. Let your child know this. Everything your young actor is feeling in that pre-show / audition moment is perfectly natural. Simply recognizing her jitters as normal can help her channel that energy into an electric performance and not a frozen moment.

Learn What Works for You

Above all else, the secret to conquering stage fright is finding the mechanism that works best for you. What is it that helps your child keep the panic from overwhelming him? Share your best tip with us on Twitter @OnLoctionEd. 
 

6 Online Study Buddies to Boost Your Subject Mastery

It’s true what they say: “Practice makes perfect.” Students hoping to get the most out of their lessons should take time to study the material outside of the classroom. Even if your student has learned how to study – an important skill often overlooked – finding the time to devote to the task can be tough. Unless, of course, you tap into the online resources that make studying fun and readily accessible on the go. Here are six sites to get your student started.  

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Quizlet
Your son has a vocabulary quiz at the end of the week. Your daughter is trying to master geometry theorems. Sign them both up for a free Quizlet account.  Students creates “sets” based on the specific information they want to study. The site will create flashcards, quizzes, and practice tests using the data your child entered. Quizlet will also pull the material into a game format. For those on the go, there is a mobile app available and the ability to study offline.

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GoConqr
In addition to flashcards and quizzes, GoConqr brings in an element that visual learners will appreciate. The site gives students the ability to create mind maps, which help them visualize how things are connected. You’ll also find a section to create study guides, which can help children develop a game plan and track progress.  

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StudyStack
We all have a preferred study method. If flashcards are your child’s go-to, StudyStack is a good resource. Like the other apps, your child begins by entering the information she needs to study. As the site cycles through the flashcards, your daughter can choose whether she’s got it right or wrong. Wrong cards are returned to the deck and recycled until the material has been memorized.

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Khan Academy
Your student isn’t going to create his own study guide on this one. That doesn’t take away from the intrinsic value of the site. He can watch videos on a wide range of subjects geared towards all grades. At the completion of the lesson, he’ll be prompted to answer a series of questions to assess how much he has learned.

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YouTube
The web’s go-to site for video content, YouTube can also be an excellent study partner with a bit of parental oversight. Try this: search “Revolutionary War for 4th Graders” and check out the list of videos ranging from classic SchoolHouse Rock to videos created by individual classroom teachers. Help your student identify what’s useful educational content and what’s not.

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 Starfall
Even the youngest students can find online learning tools. Your pre-readers and early readers will find a slew of game-based content on Starfall to hone skills ranging from learning the alphabet to phonics.

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When Child Actors Go Good There’s a Strong Support System Behind Them

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It’s not uncommon to see a salacious story about a child actor – past or present – featured on gossip TV or in the tabloids. However, these stories that make us cringe aren’t the only outcome for young performers. There are the others who remain grounded as they grow up in front of a camera or on a stage. There is one common thread that runs through these success stories: a strong, healthy, balanced support system. 

Ashley Johnson
Acting wasn’t something Ashley Johnson set out to do, per se. At 6 years old, she accompanied a couple of friends on one of their auditions. Seeing her in the waiting room, the casting director invited her to read for the part and she landed it. The following year she’d take on the role of Chrissy Seaver on Growing Pains. Today, she’s portraying Agent Patterson on NBC’s Blindspot. In discussing her career as a child actor in a TV Insider article, Ashley said, “The whole time, my parents had the mentality of ‘Have fun while you’re doing it, and if you ever don’t like it, you can always do something else.’ It was never a big deal in our home, and I think that helped make me semi-not-go-crazy. They did such a great job of making it feel like I was still a kid.” 

Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman began modeling at 11 years old. At 13, she hit the big screen as Queen Amidala in the Stars Wars prequels. Natalie also credits her parents with keeping her grounded as a child actor. In fact, in a 2011 interview explains that her parents were a bit tentative about acting as a career plan. They encouraged her to pursue her education (Natalie is a Harvard grad with a degree in psychology.) “They are amazing parents who listen to me and respect what I say, and the reason I’m not totally crazy is I know they’re home, happy, loving me and proud of me no matter how badly I fail. If you have that in your life you feel free to do anything,” she explained in the interview. 

Melissa Joan Hart
At 15, Melissa Joan Hart found fame playing the titular role in Nickelodeon’s Clarissa Explains It All. When she looks back on her career, she’s too lists her parents approach to her career as a grounding factor. Acting was something she wanted to do. She once told USA Today, “My parents let me explore that. They weren't interested in it themselves. They were trying to protect me. It became my mom's job to take me on auditions. She didn't want to be rich and famous."

These three actors mirror the sentiments of others who found a way to balance fame with childhood. To start, their parents followed their child’s lead into the industry (read: don’t want this more than your kid does.) and made it clear that this was just something fun to do for as long as it was fun. This lack of pressure, in addition to helping their children maintain aspects of their regular home life and friendships, help keep the job in prospective. 
 

Keeping Their Eyes on the Finish Line: Combating Spring Fever

With the end of the school year in sight, students (and teachers) are feeling the effects of that perennial occurrence of distraction otherwise known as spring fever. The bad news is you can’t stop it. The good news, however, is that you can learn to work with it.  If you have students, try a few of these tips to combat spring fever and reach your instructional goals.
 
Take advantage of the sun
Warmer weather, longer days and plenty of sunshine are spring fever catalysts. “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” is a good mantra in this case. Hold class time outside and design activities or projects that involve hands-on, outside experiences.  Have a unit on chemistry coming up? Test the PH in different soil samples and discuss the impact on plant growth. Learning Earth science? Heading outside is a good way to put Mohs Scale into practice. Art. Reading. Math. There’s potential for every subject. 

Get creative
There’s never a bad time to incorporate project-based learning. The height of spring fever, however, is an ideal time to put that tool to work.  Incorporate activities that are relevant to the course material. Regardless of whether you’re inside or outdoors, the goal is simply to limit the time spent sitting still with worksheets or listening to instructions. For short-term diversions, use games, partner work, videos, and other interactive tools.

Don’t stop
It can be tempting to put in the bare minimum. The kids are wound up, after all, and so are you. “Getting them to focus on school work is a lost cause,” you may lament. Don’t give in to it. Maintain your classroom routines and hold fast to your rules. Switching gears into “the-year’s-almost-over” mode is counterproductive.

Work in pairs, not groups
Group work has its benefits, but the more students that are plugging away on a project, the more invitation there is for distraction, especially when the end of the year is in sight. If you have the headcount for it, divide your students into pairs. They’ll still reap the benefits of collaborative work. 

Enlist help
This isn’t about getting more adult hands on deck. It is about giving some of the responsibility to your students. Consider assigning a science lab or other activity to a student, and then asking him or her to share results in class.

Above all, be flexible
While you are continuing to enforce classroom rules and routines, it’s also important to embrace a bit of flexibility. You might not have scheduled an outdoor project this afternoon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take the lesson you’ve prepared out into the warm sun if your students are getting a bit restless in your traditional setting. Be prepared with an arsenal of learning activities, games, and multimedia components that you can employ if you need to. When it feels like you’re losing your students’ attention, try one of those interactive alternatives.

See? With some creativity and flexibility, you can overcome the pitfalls of spring fever and keep your students on track.
 

A Post-Pilot Season Survival Guide: No Part. Now What?

Whether your child is a veteran in the entertainment industry or she’s just dipping her toe in the water for the first time, you’ve heard of that bustling time of year known as “Pilot Season.” In a span of time that traditionally runs from January to April, there’s a flurry of casting, production, and screening activity as networks make decisions about which programs will hit their airwaves in the fall. 

As an actor, pilot season is ripe with potential. All those roles, on all those shows. “Surely some young performers will find their break-out role through one of them. Why not me?” your child thinks. It’s easy to get your hopes up as casting calls begin to line up on your son’s January calendar. Then you reach May and those auditions may not have resulted in a role on a pilot (or his pilot wasn’t picked up by a network). So, how do help your young performer cope with the disappointment? These tips should help.

It’s not you, it’s them
Creating content for television (or any other medium) is a business. The casting director’s job is to find the right fit for this particular role. When that decision is “not your child,” it may have little, if anything, to do with his or her talent, personality, or audition. Trying out for the role of the youngest daughter of the series lead? Perhaps another child actor more resembles that leading actor than yours does. The decision may be based on something out of your child’s control, such as her hair color or how young/old she appears on screen. Don’t take the rejection personally.

Learn from it
Even a bad audition is a good one if your child can learn from it. When he’s ready to look back objectively on his casting calls, consider what worked and what didn’t. Encourage him to work with his acting coach and agent to identify ways to improve before the next call. 

Remember, it’s a process
The reality of being an actor is this: Your child will hear “No” more than she hears “Yes.” Even today’s biggest stars heard a lot of ‘no’ before they became household names. George Clooney, for example, was five years old when he appeared on the local television talk show his father hosted. He played sketch characters. His first IMBD listing is an uncredited extra in a TV mini-series in 1978. He’d hold a series of guest roles and relatively small supporting roles before his breakout role on “ER” in 1994. Your career may not take a similar path, but it bears repeating: if your child is enjoying the journey, have fun with it. Focus on the journey itself, not a perceived destination. Decide how long of a haul she’s prepared to endure. Watch her body language. When it stops being fun, it’s time to move on. 

Spread your “eggs” around
You know the saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” When it comes to child actors, that means, don’t let acting be your only focus. Encourage your child to follow simultaneous passions, not just show business. Stay active in sports, religious training, and clubs, to name a few. When your entire identity feels tied to the entertainment industry, rejection can be harder to handle. 

For more discussions on set life, follow us on Twitter at @OnLocationEd

Homework on the Run: 3 Must-haves for Your Portable Study Station

You pick up your child from school a little earlier than usual. He’s got an audition for a national commercial and you need the extra time to make sure you’re not late. It’s a tight schedule today! There’s the commute, the waiting room, the audition itself, the commute home and, if you can pull it off, there’s karate class later tonight. 

And then there’s the homework. Between the work he missed during class because he left early and his regularly scheduled homework assignments, there’s a stack of schoolwork to be completed by tomorrow. When does that get done?  Here’s the good news: With a little preparation, you can create a study space even when you’re on the run. 

A homework tote
One of the biggest hindrances to doing homework on the road is not having access to the supplies you need. Start with a shower caddy, tote bag, or plastic bin. At the start of the school year, your child’s teacher may have given you a supply list. Any item on that list should be included in your homework tote. If you don’t have a specific list, start with these materials: lined paper, graph paper, pencils, pens, erasers, highlighters, calculator, index cards, pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, and other school basics. Toss in a book light too. Your homework tote should be large enough to hold everything you need, yet small enough to be carried into the waiting room, if needed. 

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A work surface
Your student is going to need a flat, stable surface to write on. If you opted for a plastic bin to hold your school supplies, it may be a workable solution. Your student may find, however, that a small lap-desk with a padded bottom and a firm top is more comfortable. 

 

A little mood music
Research on whether music helps or hinders the learning process is mixed. At least some of the studies that support a positive impact (or at least a neutral one), indicate that calming, soothing music is a good choice; while louder, jarring tunes can be a distraction. The deciding factor often comes down to our own personal work style. If music keeps your child from focusing on the tasks at hand, then avoid it during study time. On the other hand, if a sonata or a jazz piece or a favorite string of pop tunes helps him concentrate, then make sure you toss a pair of ear buds in the tote and load up the phone with a playlist of homework-friendly songs!   

Optional: Internet enabled device
For some students, homework may require accessing an online text book or researching online resources. If that’s the case, you may consider bringing along a laptop, tablet or phone with internet access.  Just remember, WiFi may not be readily available. 

Juggling school, auditions, and extra-curricular activities simply means having the flexibility to make use of the time you do have and the forethought to have on hand the tools you’ll need to make use of it. Join the discussion on academic performance and life as a young performer; visit us on Facebook and share your tips for balancing it all. 

“Baby, You Ought to Be In Pictures”: 5 Steps to Avoiding a Scam

“Excuse me, can I talk with you for a moment? Your child is beautiful and has real start potential! She’s just what we’re looking for,” says the woman standing at the kiosk in the center of the mall. There are photos of smiling faces all around and signage that tells you this woman should know a thing or two about what makes a star. You might think: She’s a talent scout, after all. And of course, she’s right. My child is positively adorable with those sparkling eyes and generous, toothy grin. 

But wait. Before you take a step forward and engage in a conversation about the future of your child star, there are some things you need to know. It’s important to recognize the difference between a legitimate opportunity and a scam.

Money up front is a no-go.
Real agents get paid when you do. They find you work and are paid on commission. If you’re being asked to pay up front to be represented, it’s time to walk away. 

There is no such thing as a sure thing. 
The woman in the mall is so sure of your child’s unique and wonderful qualities that she guarantees success. Real agents know this is a tough industry and there is no guarantee. No matter how attractive or talented an actor may be, there is no such thing as a sure thing. If the person standing before you is promising bookings and wealth, think twice.  

The countdown is on
A high-pressured sales pitch begins with a great set of promises and ends with a sense of urgency. If the person you’re speaking with begins to talk about ‘limited space’ or a deadline to provide your answer (and your upfront fees), you’re being scammed. A legitimate opportunity has some shelf-life to it. You should have time to research the company you’re considering. If you are being told you must act immediately, move on.

There’s a photo package involved
Yes, if your child is interested in pursuing work in the entertainment industry, he’s going to need a head shot. An agency requiring you to use their photographer should be another red flag. As the FTC notes, a legitimate agency will allow you to use a photographer of your choice. Young children, whose look is going to change at a fast clip, may be able to use snapshots and not the more formal professional headshots. 

Titles, locations and more
Do your research. Before you sign anything, spend time researching a prospective agency, as well as the industry in general. As an example, the mere fact that this organization is recruiting at a mall kiosk is a potential sign that this may be a scam. Also, the woman told you she’s a talent scout – another warning sign – as that title is not a generally accepted position in the industry.  Still tempted? Ask for a business card and then go home and Google for more information.

Be cautious, informed, and diligent, and you will be able to discern legitimate agencies from scam enterprises.
 

Industry Voices: Staying Safe Online

An interview with BizParentz Co-Founders Paula Dorn and Anne Henry: Part 2

BizParentz Foundation, a non-profit organization, supports young performers and their parents by providing education, advocacy and charitable support. Created by stage moms Paula Dorn and Anne Henry, BizParentz aims to share information on topics associated with children in the entertainment industry so that families can make an informed decision best suited to their individual needs and experience.  

On Location Education recently had the opportunity to sit down with Paula and Anne to discuss safety and other important issues related to child performers. In part one of that interview, we discussed safety, smart choices and stage names. In part two. we highlight online safety for your child performer. The following is BizParentz advice on keeping young actors safe in cyberspace.

OLE asked, “Actors are often encouraged to have an online presence as part of their branding and marketing. What precautions should a parent take to keep their young actors safe in cyberspace?” 

BP: The advice given to adult actors should be very different than the advice given to young performers.  Yes, we work in an adult world, but kids are, and should be, DIFFERENT.   

 For example, social media presence is a very dangerous thing for children.  That's why we have COPPA laws (kids under 13 should not even be on social media, if you read the TOS to most websites) and why the FBI now has entire divisions set up to deal with it.  There are dangers on the net that simply don't exist for adults, but are very prominent for children.  

Adult actors need to brand themselves.  Kids, not so much. That's because kids change so quickly...there is no time to build a brand before the "product" (the child) has changed into a different product -- they get older, taller, voices change, etc. For this reason, we suggest that parents focus more on obtaining quality WORK, and less on "branding."  

There is a huge myth out there that social media is "necessary" for a child actor's career.  It really isn't.  It is a choice.  If parents choose to make that choice, recognizing the dangers, the very least they can do is the following:

  • Parents should not only monitor, but completely control the child's professional online world.  Parents should have all the passwords, not just be "friends" with their child so they can "monitor.” 
  • Buy your child's name in website form (ex. tiffanysmith.com), and on social media.  This helps deter imposters and fan fiction at your child's expense.  Even if you don't put any content on those sites, claim them, so others don't beat you to it.  
  • Keep professional and personal online profiles separate.  All professional stuff should go through "their people" (aka mom or dad).  Personal pages and private groups should be for real life friends and family and they should be tagged as private.   
  • Only post professional photos.  When you post a photo online, for the most part, it becomes the property of the site you posted it on (Facebook, Instagram, etc).  You need to assume that you will lose control of the photo at that point. Only give away professional photos.  Be aware of the common behavior and fetishes for pedophiles and don't feed the beast.  Example?  No pictures of bare feet, kids in bathing suits, laying on their bed, etc. 
  • Build an infrastructure, a wall, for your online presence in the real world. That means having a PO box to register sites and accept mail, rather than having any evidence of your home address. Use a stage name for your child if you can.  Prioritize getting a real agent and/or manager so that they can handle any inquiries, auditions, and job offers.  Imagine your child is famous and successful -- that level of talent is mysterious.  Be mysterious.  
  • If you choose to interact with people in real life (an acting coach for example, or an agent), make sure you thoroughly vet them.  
  • Do not share where your child is to physically going be in advance, and don't share location of your home or the name of their school.  Share successes AFTER they happen.  Share that you were at the cool new restaurant right AFTER you leave. 
  • Do not buy followers or IMDB Starmeter ratings. These are questionable arenas and once you are on a target list, expect similar businesses to contact you.  Ditto for kids’ award shows, pay-to-play red carpets, online photo contests, online magazines, etc. All of these will put you in the position of "prey" and they will not advance your child's career.  The real industry can spot these frauds a mile away and they aren't impressed.   
  • Know that most college admissions officers now check social media.  Employers too.  Do not post anything you wouldn't want them to see.  Your child may have other aspirations when they get to be 18 and the may not appreciate the online footprint you have created. 
  • Learn to say NO.  Block suspicious people from your child's pages.  Be obvious and present -- let the predators who might be out there know that there is a mama bear watching them.  No job opportunity or networking move is worth your child's safety. 

We highly suggest all parents (showbiz or not) read Gavin DeBecker's book, Protecting the Gift.  It talks about how parents should listen to and trust their instincts.  You don't need to have a reason, or be judge and jury to NOT deal with someone in your child's life.   

 BizParentz is working on California legislation about young performers and social media safety, with the recognition that influencers now include children. For updates on that process, or for more information about BizParentz, visit their web site at http://www.bizparentz.org/home.html.

To read Part 1 of our interview with BizParentz stop by our blog here: Industry Voices: Safety, Smart Choices & Stage Names

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