If your child or teen wants to make it as an actor then there are two people that they will need to impress—the casting director and the director of any project they work on. These are two of the most important people in an aspiring actor’s career as they are the key to your child’s chances of success. So, as you can imagine, one of the most common questions we’re asked here at Bubblegum Casting is ‘what do directors look for in child actors?’
As our managing director Adam Jacobs loves to say, that depends. You see, every job or role that a casting director is trying to fill comes with its own set of requirements and sometimes these can be super specific. This means that no two roles are quite the same. That said, there are certain characteristics that a casting director and director absolutely love to see in a child actor and that’s what we’re talking about here.
During our many years in the business, we’ve seen more than our fair share of young actors ace the auditioning process and go on to make a name for themselves in the industry. And based on those success stories, we can safely say that the attributes we’ve listed below are what all of our successful Bubblegum actors have had in common.
The ability to be natural
While it’s true that acting is pretending, that’s not quite the same thing as being fake, right? What a director wants to see is a child acting in such a way that it is entirely believable. This is why in our audition guide we recommend that children be themselves when auditioning. Sure, they are playing a role, but they can still be themselves.
It’s this authenticity that can really take a child or teen’s auditioning and acting skills up a notch and get them noticed in both auditions and when working on set. And this leads us on to our next point.
A little personality
Every child is unique and has their own personality that shines through in everything that they do. A director will often look to use that uniqueness to add more of that authenticity we mentioned earlier to a child’s performance. For this reason, they like to see a little personality in the child actors they work with.
This means that a director likes to see a well-rounded child who has their own interests and their own opinions. They want to see a child who acts and behaves like a child. Remember, your child’s personality and their uniqueness is often what grabs a casting director’s attention in the first place so don’t be scared to let it shine through.
A good work ethic
Now, before you panic, we’re not suggesting that a director will expect all work and no play from a child actor. In fact, the vast majority of directors spend a great deal of time and energy ensuring that the children they work with are happy at all times and that can sometimes mean having a little fun on set.
However, they still expect a certain level of professionalism from everyone involved (that means mums and dads too!). A film set is a busy working environment and it can take a lot of hard work to get things prepped and just right before filming. This is why directors love working with kids and teen actors who can take direction and try their best at all times.
Acting can come naturally to some kids while others have to work hard to hone their skills. But one thing for sure is that no matter which side of the fence your child or teen is on, a little professional training will go a long way to helping them in their career.
This is because it makes both the casting director and the director’s jobs much easier. While directors are very hands on and are usually quite helpful to child actors in particular, they don’t have the time to coach a child in the basics of acting when on a busy film set. For this reason, they are much more likely to want to work with children who have had at least some basic acting lessons.
But impressing the casting director or director isn’t the only reason to get acting lessons for your child. Not only do lessons teach your child the basics of acting but they help to improve self confidence. And if you want to know how to stand out in an audition, then being full of confidence is certainly one way to do it. But before you sign up for an acting school take some time to consider the options. You can even look into online acting classes which we’ve found to be quite popular in the last couple of years.
A child who wants to act
Both casting directors and directors go to great lengths to ensure that the kids they work with are happy at all times. After all, they’re just kids who need to be cherished and protected. So if a director gets any inkling that a child has been pushed into acting when it’s something they don’t want to do, they’ll call it out.
Of course, there will be times when every child actor will feel a little grumpy or not particularly motivated and that’s perfectly normal and accepted. But generally speaking, a director wants to see kids who are enjoying themselves and who are doing something that they love. They don’t want to see kids who are unhappy and have no interest in acting. This is why it’s extremely important that parents and guardians sit down with their children and make sure that they understand what is expected of them before they accept a role. There’s also the simple truth that not all kids want to be on TV or the big screen. So talk to your child and make sure that acting is the right choice for them before you make any commitments.
If you’ve already had that conversation and would like your child to join the exciting world of acting, then we’d love to hear from you. You can either get in touch with us or apply to join the Bubblegum family right away. Either way, we’re looking forward to hearing from you.