If you’re reading this, then the chances are that at some point your child has come to you and informed you in no uncertain terms that they want to be a child actor. Or perhaps you found yourself thinking ‘my child could do that!’ as you watched Home Alone for the billionth time.
But perhaps the most important question of all, and one that not too many people talk about is ‘what’s the best age to start acting?’
And you guessed it, that’s what we’re going to take a look at right now.
So what’s the best age to start acting?
As our CEO Adam Jacobs’ loves to say ‘that depends’.
You see, all children are different in every way imaginable. They look different (apart from those identical twins of course), they act differently, and most importantly, they have very different personalities.
This means that what works for one child may not work for another. For example, while we have had many toddlers come into the agency that are perfect for the industry, we’ve had just as many if not more that simply aren’t suited. Or to put it a better way, they’re just not ready yet.
So how can you tell if they’re ready?
Ask yourself a few questions:
- Does your child love to get into character or to copy the voices of their favourite characters on TV?
- Do they often act out the parts of their toys’ characters when playing?
- Do they love to sing or perform their favourite songs or scenes from movies when you have visitors?
- Do they get super-excited about the prospect of being involved in the school play?
- Do they love being in the limelight?
No matter how old your child is, if the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then there’s a chance that they may be ready to at least dip their toes in the world of child acting.
Just remember that a desire to act doesn’t quite translate to skill or suitability. This is why agencies like ours will spend a little time getting to know a child before we consider representing them. As we said earlier, sometimes a child just isn’t ready yet.
So now that you know how to recognise the telltale signs of a potential child actor, let’s take a look at some helpful starter acting tips for kids of all ages.
Age 0 – 4
This is perhaps the most difficult age group to offer tips to as there’s a huge difference between a newborn and a four-year-old toddler.
For baby acting, your child needs to have a pleasant disposition and can be held by other adults without crying.
For toddlers, your child must be personable and take instruction easily. They don’t necessarily need to be very outgoing, but they do need to be comfortable in the company of adults.
Once children in this age range are aware of their surroundings, taking on an acting role can be quite tiresome for parents. So make sure that you’re willing to put plenty of effort into your child’s budding career.
Age 5 – 7
At this age, children are much more aware of the fact that they are engaged in kids acting. They can often grasp the concept of play acting and will also usually understand that they need to be well-behaved when on set.
This is also a point in your child’s development when they can start to read or at least memorise lines. So with this in mind, it’s a great idea to act out some scenes with them as a game to see if they can remember lines and instructions. This way, when they get an opportunity to try out for a role, they will be familiar with the practice required to prepare for an audition.
This is a great age range to get your child involved in acting classes or perhaps even an improv group or class.
Age 8 – 11
This is one of the best ages for getting started in acting as kids this age tend to be that little bit better at reading their lines and more disciplined with practice. Kids in this age group will sometimes play roles younger than their actual age as the group is generally easier to work with.
Acting classes at this age are an absolute must if your child is serious about developing their acting skills and continuing a career into their teens. While casting directors won’t expect them to be absolute professionals, they will expect a certain level of dedication to their career.
Acting is always fun, but at this age, it becomes a little more professional and your child will start to feel more like they are involved in a serious profession and industry.
Age 12 – 15
This is another important stage in your child’s development as they are undergoing quite a lot of physical changes. They are getting taller and maybe their voice is changing too. However, this doesn’t mean that there will be no work for them. Movies and TV shows still need young teens and there are lots of opportunities out there.
Another change that we see in kids in this group is that they are becoming more mature on an emotional level. While they’re not old enough to be treated as adults, they can think like one. This means that they will be much more receptive towards constructive feedback so continuing classes is essential.
That said, as they are undergoing those physical changes, their confidence can sometimes take a hit so at times you may need to tread lightly.
Age 16 – 18
The final group should be one of the easiest to deal with as your teen is now almost an adult. However, this can be a frustrating time for some teen actors as they really want to be treated like an adult and work as much as they like. They may also want to dress more like an adult too, but in some cases this may actually harm their chances.
A good tip is to encourage your teen to be themselves and to dress and act as they would normally. A casting director doesn’t want to see a 16-year-old dressed as a 22-year-old especially for actresses.
Older teen acting is also a great opportunity for your child to set themselves up for a long career in the industry. For this reason it’s crucial that they take all of their acting classes and jobs very seriously. Sure, have some fun, but this is really starting to look like a career right about now, so make the right impression at all times.
Once your child hits their 18th birthday, they’re into the world of adult acting, but we’ll talk about that another time. For now though, however old your child is, remember that the most important thing is that they genuinely want to be involved in acting. Whether it’s a toddler who loves to play act or a teenager who has long-term career aspirations one thing is clear—your child must have that desire to make it work.
Child Acting and Modelling in a Post-Pandemic World
When it comes to child acting and child modelling, much has changed in the post-pandemic world. Auditions now take place via Zoom or self-tapes, and photoshoots come with restrictions on how many people can be in attendance.
Here’s a full breakdown of state and territory government information.
While virtual formats don’t allow you to enjoy a one-on-one session with a casting director, they do come with distinct advantages.
Self-tapes, in particular, allow you to take control of the audition. You can do another take when your child flubs heir lines, and you can adjust lighting and backdrops to showcase your child’s appearance and talents.
When you work with a professional editing company, you can take audition videos to the next level, putting your little star’s best foot forward.
Launching Your Child’s Career
What’s the next step if you’re interested in launching your child’s career? It starts with finding the right agent to help you navigate the competitive waters of child acting and child modelling.
Adam Jacobs, the Managing Director of Bubblegum Casting, is here to help. Bubblegum Casting represents the longest-running agency specialising in babies, children, and teen talent in Australia.
Bubblegum Casting works with some of Australia’s biggest brands, media properties, and agencies to secure talented children to work in television, film and modelling roles. Apply now to jumpstart your child’s career.
8. Learn With Your Child
Don’t be afraid to step into the work with your child. Arguably, one of the best parts of being a parent is that your child pulls you into interests and hobbies that you’d never stepped into before or haven’t stepped into in a while. It’s a youthful feeling.
By working with your child on their lines, you’re showing them that you’re in full support of everything that they’re doing. If you learn another character’s lines, you’ll be able to (1) help your child learn their lines more effectively and (2) show that you’re fully invested in the interests that your child is pursuing.
Plus, researchers have found that memorising information – even at older ages – stimulates your brain. You can alter your brain’s neural pathways and improve your brain’s ability to store new knowledge.
There’s nothing bad that can come out of practising with your child. So, next time that they’re working on memorising lines, try to jump into the activity with them.
Your child may know some ways to memorise lines that you’ve never thought about before. These skills can help you memorise other things in life as well.
Taking this time with your child advances their career and helps you with your memory. It’s a winning situation all around.
From Aspiring Youths to Successful Child Actors
We hope that all of these tips on how to help your child with lines and script memorisation will put your child on the road to success. Especially when your child is just starting out, it’s difficult to balance everything. But, there is a way to find the groove.
When it comes to child acting, all your child needs is perseverance. With you by their side, they’ve got everything they need to succeed and become one of the many successful child actors.
Don’t forget to come to our team here at Bubblegum Casting to get your child on the road to more acting opportunities.