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/