I have a 15-year-old son that wants to get into acting. He has a natural ability to engage in acting roles. Currently he does not have a lot to put on a resumé. He has a great ability to imitate others and become whatever role that is presented before him.

I am limited on money but I am willing to invest in his success with his acting but I want to make sure where my money goes it is legitimate.

I currently live in Atlanta, GA, and I know my city is growing and moving towards catering to the entertainment business. There are agencies everywhere needing young actors. Some ask for small to large fees. I just don’t want to be that mother dishing out thousands of dollars before I learn I should have did this or that.

Please help!!
Moneak Jones

Awesome, Moneak. Good for you, looking out for the best ways to get into this crazy business, before you’re trying to figure out how to come back from being scammed. Parents of young actors are particularly rich targets for the biggest scam artists out there, because they know that no parent wants to stand between her child and his dream! That eagerness sometimes wins out over logic and common sense, and that’s what the dream-sellers are counting on.

First stop, for the parent of a young actor — in any market — is the nonprofit BizParentz.org. This is an amazing organization that focuses on issues of child actor advocacy and their site is filled with free resources and information on how to avoid scams, find legitimate work in your market, child labor laws, and so much more. Spend time poking through the many pages of their free website. Introduce yourself to them. They’re here to help!

Next, head over to the Delphi Forum called PARF (Professional Actors Resource Forum) and introduce yourself. Read up on the conversations parents of young actors from all over the world are having there. Ask your own questions — especially about any company that is asking you to pony up ANY money — so you can be sure you’re being told about red flags that may need to be on your radar.

Also on your to-do list is reading this column I wrote in 2008 called “I Think I Want To Be an Actor.” I’ve updated the column here, as well as tagging a whole group of columns as “young actor“-related, and you should check out all of those, and participate in the comments area at any of those archived posts, for updates. There are very few absolutes in this business. I’ve made sure to cover those that do exist in that ONE column, and it’s a must-read for parents of young actors.

Having grown up as a young actor in Atlanta, I can agree with you on what a thriving market it is becoming. It’s continuing to grow (even though it’s always been a good little market), and if you’ll spend a little time at the Georgia Film Commission’s website, you’ll get a lovely list of legitimate resources, as well as information about production that’s coming to the state.

Yes, your son will need training. He’ll need representation. He’ll need headshots. Go read that article I keep mentioning. 😉 Never pay up front for representation. Never get training and headshots and representation all from the same organization. Audit classes. Shop around. ASK fellow parents of young actors (seriously, get on PARF and jump on in) for guidance. And get lots of opinions. Trust most the ones you can TRACK to a reputation. An anonymous “helper” online may be trying to steer you in the wrong direction. Look everyone who SAYS “trust me” up on IMDb. If they have no cred, weigh their opinion accordingly.

Finally, if you like the style of my advice in these free weekly columns, hop on my mailing list at BonnieGillespie.com and listen to my podcast at iTunes (I mark all the episodes as explicit because sometimes I get pottymouth; so maybe you’d like to listen first, then share certain episodes with your younger son). Read everything you can get your hands on. Run everything through your intuition, because as a parent, it’s strong. I know you want what’s best for your young actor, and that’s great. But don’t run around throwing money away. It won’t help him. GOOD experiences with LEGITIMATE professionals will.

Wishing you BOTH all the luck in the world! Keep me posted on how it goes for y’all! 🙂

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 http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001665.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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