Regarding your suggested resolutions, what about child actors? I’ve got all the love and support I need from my parents, but this situation can be overwhelming. I can’t volunteer for casting directors. I can’t go to networking events. Most events that SAG holds are for adults only. Not only that, but I’m not old enough to drive. Will simply keeping my acting skills sharpened be enough to make me succeed? What else can I do to contribute to my success?

The fact that you are asking these questions is a sign that you’re already going to be ahead of the game, among actors your age. Understandably, many young actors do not put focus on the “business” elements of show business. Perhaps their parents take the lead in those dealings, but it is rare to hear from kids about networking, interning, or SAG Foundation events. You are aware that these are things you will need to be able to do, as soon as it is appropriate for you to do so. That’s a great start! You can go ahead and begin scouting out which groups you’d like to participate with, for whom you’d like to intern, and what you hope to get out of these activities. You can also prepare for how you’ll handle encounters that are seemingly social (but that are truly networking opportunities). You can begin to get skilled at remembering people’s names. You can investigate whether your school provides credit for interning in agents’ offices. Basically, now is the time to begin laying the groundwork for a successful future as a working actor.

You’re exactly right about keeping your acting skills sharp. Stay in class, learn new on-camera techniques, push yourself to do improv or stand-up comedy, and gather tape to put together your demo reel. These are all confidence-builders as well as solid “good actor habits” and you’ll do yourself a favor by continuing to get out there and work every chance you get. That means school plays, free local theatre, and student films (college-aged filmmakers are often eager to find young people for their films, since they all KNOW where to find college-aged actors). Get your headshot into the film schools’ actor books. Student filmmakers will go to these books (kept in the departmental offices) when they have a last-minute casting need.

Since you have the support and love of your family — such a monumentally important element to success as a working actor — create a plan with them for being able to intern as soon as possible. As you continue to connect with directors, producers, casting directors, agents, managers, acting instructors, headshot photographers, and other industry personnel, begin to ask whether you could intern for a few hours a week, just to help out and learn a few things. If your parents are willing to drop you off and pick you up (or even stay in the office’s lobby while you are filing or making copies), perhaps you could work out a schedule that would both support your goals and keep your family from having to run around town too much more than they already do.

If you are already in a weekly acting class, perhaps you could volunteer to come in an hour early or stay an hour late each week, in order to help copy sides that are used in scene study. If you have a headshot photographer with whom you’ve shot repeatedly, you could ask whether he or she could use your help, assembling prints in his or her portfolio. This would allow you to see a lot of different headshots and ask questions about type and marketing. Many people in this industry are open to mentoring young actors. You simply have to let folks know you are looking for such an opportunity.

I’m impressed by your interest in reading this weekly column, as a young actor. I hope that you continue to take your career seriously and that the payoff comes quickly for you. Keep doing good work!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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