I’m 17 and told this is a difficult age for being hired as an actor because there are extra expenses due to child labor laws. Is the age 18 or is it 21 when these laws no longer apply?
Child labor laws apply until you are 18 years old. That’s why “18 to play younger” is so often requested in breakdowns. When a 17 year old is on the set, there are strict, federal and state requirements (not just requirements of SAG) as to how many hours the actor can work, whether an on-set instructor is required, how long the actor may appear on camera without a break, and so forth. If an 18 year old is hired to play 17 (or younger), those issues are no longer there. The actor is no longer a minor and therefore can be asked to work overtime, doesn’t need an on-set tutor, etc.
Some teenagers decide to graduate early (get their GED and become emancipated) so that they can work with a waiver to the “on-set tutor” requirement, but they are still minors and therefore still “cost more” to have on-set, simply because the hours they can work are more limited than those that an 18 year old can work.
So, yes, it’s tough to work as a 17 year old, simply because, at that age, there are so many 18 year olds who are competing with you for the work (and who may have a better chance of getting it, simply because of the amount of money they save the production).
I strongly recommend that you take time to become familiar with some of the really great resources for young actors “out there,” such as the Professional Actors Resource Forum, BizKids, A Minor Consideration, and the SAG Young Performers Handbook. And beyond that, hang in there! You’re not too far off from the big 1-8 and you’ll find that there is still plenty of work for you to do at 17, despite the fact that you’re competing with 18 year olds. Remember, if you’re the one they REALLY want for the part, they’ll spend the extra money to have you! It’s far more important to have the right cast than to save a few bucks, on most sets.
Good luck! Keep us posted on your progress!
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000037.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.