A Parent Answers Your Young Performer Questions

Siobhan Read, mother of Spotlight member Clara Read, talks us through her answers to your common parent questions...

Wondering about a parent's point of view of having a performing child? Siobhan Read answers the common questions we hear from parents, who want more information about preparing their child for the industry. 

How did your child start getting interested in the performing industry?

Firstly through acting classes at a local acting class provider, but her real interest was sparked when she saw a performance of Matilda in the West End.

Did you have to learn a lot of things about the business and how did you go about this?

No, you learn with each acting experience the child does and from speaking to her agent and other child performer parents.

How do you manage your child’s expectations of the industry?

It is hard to do this but you must be honest with your child and explain that if they are not picked for a particular role it was not the role for them and something else will come along. The children do get used to it.

How do you help your child prepare for an audition? How important do you think it is that they are ‘off book’ (i.e. know all lines by heart)?

I always read through the script at least 3 times with my child. I do think it’s important for them to be able to read off script, as it gives the child more confidence in the audition.

How do you handle last minute auditions as a parent?

You have to be flexible with your work to manage these auditions. I just read through the script on the way to the audition and explain to those who are auditioning the child that the script was received late, so the child is not very familiar with the content.

Many of our parents tell us their child gets really nervous before auditions - do you have any tips on how to handle this?

It’s very normal for the child to be nervous and the people auditioning do recognise this. I always just reassure my child that it’s simply saying the words they have learnt. If anything new is asked of them in the audition, I say to smile, answer as best they can and don’t be afraid to say if you don’t understand.

What other skills/interests can a child be involved in to help booster their career?

This really depends on what the child is auditioning for e.g. for West End work, dance/singing is useful, languages can be asked for, and once the ability to ride a horse was asked for.

How do you deliver rejection/feedback to your child? Are there good ways to work through this that you can recommend to other parents?

Rejection is always hard especially if the child has auditioned more than once for the role.  You have to be direct with your child, but I try not to focus on the rejection, rather emphasising how amazing it is that the child was chosen to audition in the first place. And of course, always reassure them that it was simply not meant to be but that something else will turn up.

What are the main differences between theatre work and TV/film work?

For theatre work the time commitment for the parent and child is a lot, involves late night travel and the remuneration is low. However, the reward for the child is learning amazing acting skills, how to improvise and think on their feet.

For film work the time commitment is usually less for both parent and child, however it is more concentrated dates and long days. The remuneration is better however it may require travel to sets here in UK and abroad, so job flexibility for the parent is a must.

How do you handle the waiting around on set between takes?

Waiting around can be fun down time for the child, it’s important to have lots of snacks, DVDs, games, books and school work available to the child.

Are there any other really helpful points of advice that you would recommend to other parents?

Make sure your child’s school is ok with the child missing school, as to get your child licensed to work the school must consent. One parent really does need a flexible job as the time commitment can be tough. Until the contract is signed your child does not have the part, even if oral confirmation is given.

Have you got questions about young performers? Send us an email at [email protected]