Educational Requirements for Young Actors in New York

In our last post, we discussed the legal requirements for young performers in New York—work permits, financial protections, and health clearances—but even after you’ve crossed the last “T” and dotted the last “I,” your child actor is not off the hook. Though they might think they’re ready to take on the world, the State of New York first requires them to get an education. The world will still be waiting for them after they finish their schooling.

If this is your child’s first foray into the world of stage and/or screen, it’s important to know that “education, attendance, and academic requirements are determined by the school district where the child performer resides or the private school that he or she attends.” (Source: New York State Department of Labor) From day one, your child’s “regular” school is calling the shots. But while the specifics of their education may vary by state or district, New York has its own set of rules designed to ensure instruction is delivered.

From the start, a working child actor’s life is far from ordinary. Schedules are hectic or seemingly nonexistent, and structure may seem to be reserved for the plot of the film or play in which they are cast. So in addition to establishing academic standards, New York laws help provide some semblance of structure in the child actor’s life. Employers are required to provide a minimum of one hour of instruction each day, with an average of at least 3 hours per day (teaching time may be banked to maintain the minimum average).

In addition to meeting the time requirements, employers must provide clean, well-lit work spaces that are limited to students, instructors, and responsible persons approved by the teacher and production company during times of instruction. Teachers are also subject to strict regulations; according to the New York Department of Labor,the employer-provided teacher must be certified or have credentials recognized by the State of New York.”

Failing grades will put your young actor’s Child Performer Permit (and employment) in jeopardy, so it’s important that everyone play their part in their education.

An African proverb states that “it takes a village to raise a child.” The same could be said for child actors; it takes the combined effort of teachers, employers, and especially parents and guardians to ensure their academic, professional, and general well-being,

To be clear, this post provides a broad overview of on-set educational requirements covered by New York State labor laws. For complete information, visit the Child Performer page on the New York State Department of Labor web site.