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/