Words of Wisdom from Two Successful Young Actors
Aspiring child and teen actors have an expansive array of role models to observe in television and film. And while it’s helpful to study the techniques of successful performers, young actors can also learn a lot about the craft and the industry by following the advice of those who blazed a trail before them. Here are some words of wisdom from two actors who started their careers from a young age.
Millie Bobby Brown
Millie Bobby Brown got her start in acting when she moved to Los Angeles to search for auditions. After landing a smattering of small parts, Brown struck gold with the role of Eleven in Stranger Things, which she was offered only a day after her audition.
In an interview with SAG-AFTRA, Brown, only thirteen at the time, emphasized the importance of confidence in one’s feeling for a character. “Nobody else is playing that role except for you,” she stressed. “You have to believe in yourself, and if you don’t, you’re not going to create a role, you’re not going to create a character.”
She also mentioned some advice that her cast-mate Winona Ryder offered her, for when certain scenes become too stressful: “Stop when you feel like it’s getting too much.” It’s essential for young actors to stay healthy and take care of themselves when situations become overwhelming. Brown also described how helpful collaborating with other cast members was when she became stumped with some of her scenes.
When discussing the challenges child actors face, Brown said that “keeping yourself grounded” is essential. She closed the interview by noting the importance of having a solid support system in place. She said that young actors should “remember who took you to the auditions in the first place,” and appreciate those who advocate for you, since their support is the vehicle for getting your career started.
Best known for his role as Brick on ABC’s The Middle, Atticus Shaffer fell in love with acting by reading stories with his mother as a young child. Around age six he began to perform in public speaking events, through which his mother noticed he had a knack for connecting with people with his voice. After some networking, his first audition landed him a role in a CBS show.
While acting is a tough, competitive career, Shaffer stays humble and grounded by spending time with his friends and family. In an interview with the teen network iaam, Shaffer, sixteen at the time, offered this advice to aspiring actors: “You will learn, grow, and change through your career, and it's important to be aware that when the camera is off you, you still need to live with yourself for who you are and not for what people perceive you to be. You go home as ‘you,’ not your character and not as a celebrity. You must be confident in yourself to like and respect the person you are, as well as the person you will become.”
When reviewing the advice offered by Brown and Shaffer, you can see common themes: Keep grounded, have confidence in yourself, and remember your roots.
The presence of child and teen actors is on the rise, and though competition is numerous, so are the opportunities. With dedication and tenacity, many aspiring young actors can find roles that are right for them, and start their journey toward a rewarding and inspiring career.