Where to start if your child wants to be an actor… Part one

As I mentioned last week, our first step on our family’s acting journey was seeking out representation, meaning finding an agent. I say family, even though only Elizabeth is acting, because it takes a village, people. It really does.

While finding an agent was our first step, it might not be the “right” first step for your family. I wouldn’t have even considered seeking out an agent if my best friend, who’s a makeup artist in California, hadn’t suggested it. Elizabeth was pretty young when Heyman Talent signed her. They didn’t even want us to bring Elizabeth in with us; they just wanted to see a photo. But who did they want to meet?? Her parents.

Now why would that be? I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure we assumed correctly. They wanted to feel us out before they signed our child. Were we stage parents who were pushing our child to do something she didn’t want to do? Were we going to be a nightmare to work with? We weren’t (and aren’t) stage parents, and hopefully we’re pretty easy to deal with, but how would they know that without meeting us?

Columbus OH Ohio Child Model
Elizabeth working for Thirty-One Gifts, 2017 Spring/Summer Catalog

I’ve spoken with some moms who feel like their daughters would really enjoy acting/modeling, and I try my best to paint them a clear and honest picture of what to expect. So I’m going to get down to it.

1. Find an Agent

This one is pretty clear, and I wrote about it, in detail, last week. If you missed it, you can find it below.

2. Get Your Child involved in Local Theatre

Auditioning can be nerve-wracking. So your child needs to be comfortable performing in front of people and in front of the camera. Elizabeth is starting to hit the age where she gets a little nervous before callbacks, because she knows, during most in-person auditions, she’s going to have a panel of people watching her every move. I can’t stress enough, the importance of getting your child into local theatre, if he/she wants to be an actor. Elizabeth has taken several classes at Commonwealth Theatre and Derby Dinner Playhouse. She is obsessed with live theatre, and it has been a great way for her to learn about performing and how to be comfortable in the spotlight. She would be in heaven if she were able to do live theatre for the rest of her life. She hardly sleeps the night before her performances, and it isn’t because of nerves. She can’t wait to get up there and perform in front of an audience.

3. When Your Child Starts Booking, Be Flexible & Plan to Travel

Here’s the part where we really didn’t know what we had gotten into, but looking back, I don’t know that we would’ve done anything differently. We are in Louisville, Kentucky, and while things pop up here from time to time, this is not a full-time market. And your agent will tell you that when you sign with him/her. When you have a hungry child, (hungry in terms of wanting to work) he/she can get a little frustrated waiting for auditions. Elizabeth booked her very first gig in Fall 2016 with Thirty-One Gifts. The project shot in Columbus, Ohio. It’s about 3.5 hours from Louisville. I think they booked her around 4pm, the day before the shoot was scheduled, and we had to be on set, in Columbus, early the next morning. We threw stuff together and drove up the night before and stayed in a hotel, so we would be there and be ready the next morning. That’s the nature of the business. When your child gets booked, you often don’t get much notice, so you MUST be flexible, especially in a part-time market, if your child wants to work.

I’ve included some photos from her shoot. She was photographed for their 2017 Spring/Summer Catalogue. She was completely inexperienced and was pretty difficult to work with, to be honest. God love them for having her back again, recently, after this shoot. They worked with a totally different kid, the second time around, thankfully. She was ready to go and knew what to do – something that is only learned from experience.

Columbus Ohio child actor, Elizabeth Howlett
Elizabeth modeling for Thirty-One Gifts, 2017 Spring/Summer Catalog

In the past few years, I can’t tell you how many trips we’ve made to Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Nashville. We’ve been fortunate enough to tape most of Elizabeth’s auditions at home or at the Heyman Louisville office, but sometimes casting directors want to see talent audition in person. Elizabeth booked a national La-Z-Boy commercial this past year, and while we taped and submitted the original audition from home, they held the callbacks (A callback in a second audition, once they’ve narrowed down their selection of actors.) in Columbus. Elizabeth was fortunate enough to be selected, but if she had not, we would’ve driven 7 hours, round-trip, like many of the actors did (some drove even more!) and still not have gotten the job.

Since this is getting long, I’ll write more on things you need to know, next week (I hope). We’re going to be traveling a lot in February, so I might be a little less consistent for a bit. Thank you for following. <3

Elizabeth Howlett modeling for Thirty-One Gifts in Columbus, Ohio
Elizabeth modeling for Thirty-One Gifts, 2017 Spring/Summer Catalog

 

 

 

How Elizabeth started acting…

While I feel like we’re just starting this journey and are far from experts, I’m often asked how this all started for Elizabeth. I always try to help those who ask in any way I can, but I only know what we’ve experienced. So hopefully this will help you and your child, if he/she has been showing an interest in acting.

The answer to how she got started is pretty simple. We met with a local agent, and he signed her.

Elizabeth is primarily represented by Heyman Talent Agency. Since we live in Louisville, and they have an office here, it worked out great for us. What she DID NOT do is go to modeling school or pay for classes through them when they signed her.¬†That is SO important to emphasize. They are legitimate agents who have relationships with casting directors and clients (national & regional companies) and are in charge of finding talent for print, online and television advertising. They are also involved in finding the right talent film and television roles. When Hollywood comes to shoot locally, they use Heyman. Elizabeth has had huge auditions through Heyman for major films with A-list actors. She’s yet to book a huge film role, but she’s 7-years-old, and she has plenty of time for that later. Right now, she’s a little sponge, and she’s loving soaking up any experience she can get.

A little more about agents… What legitimate talent agents are not: ¬†They are NOT the people who set up booths at the mall and approach your child, trying to sign them. Those types of organizations are generally scams. They will charge you an outrageous amount for “modeling” classes and headshots through “their” photographer. I don’t claim to be an expert on this, but one of those “agents” approached me at a mall when I was in college. We went in to hear what he had to say, and it was a complete scam. You needed to purchase a $500 photo package with “their” photographer who had supposedly photographed Madonna, etc. etc. Needless to say, we walked right out.

Below is an early headshot of Elizabeth. I know she’s still little now, but I miss that sweet, baby face!

Elizabeth Howlett Child Actor in Louisville Kentucky with dimples

I have a few more things I’d like to talk about, so I feel you are fully informed before you decide if you want take your family on this journey. It isn’t as simple as “audition and book the role.” There’s a whole other side to it, like getting experience in local theatre, and there’s the travel involved with working and auditioning. Early on, I don’t think we were fully prepared for the travel (and the expense of it, which is on the parents) that goes along with it. I’ll explain more next week.

A New Adventure…

Elizabeth Howlett is a Los Angeles Child Actor with dimples

2018 was a HUGE year for Elizabeth. Not only did she turn 7, but she started at a new school, which she loves, and she booked a TON of jobs. I swear, her resume looks better than mine, and I’m a college graduate! When I look at it, it seems crazy that a 7-year-old has a page-long resume! What in the world?!

As I mentioned in the last post, we second-guess this all of the time, especially when it comes to missing school. Some of my friends will be like, “You can’t audition! What about SCHOOL?!”

Trust me, it pains us when she misses, but it’s hard to deny her something when we see her put so much work into it. She just has this passion, this fire. I don’t know how to explain it, and I feel crazy when I try to, and it’s…NOT going away.

She’s a good student, and it’s super important to us that she keeps her grades up…

Last week, she got her first note sent home for us from her teacher… It said she had been daydreaming in class. Before I even asked Elizabeth about it, I knew what she was daydreaming about…

The evening before, we received some really amazing news. When I saw/opened the email, I couldn’t help but yell, “Elizabeth!!! I have something to tell you!!!” –Hey, I was excited, too! You can’t help but get caught up in it, trust me. And, it’s so fun to tell your kids something that you know is going to make their day. But my timing wasn’t the best. She was literally going to bed. Not the time to tell Elizabeth anything, because she’s the type to keep herself up all night thinking about it.

Anyway, the big news: She was cast in a television SERIES! I can’t say anymore than that, because that’s how this business works, and we’re professionals here. So we’re going to be leaving town for a bit and will be staying in another state while it’s filming. We’ve read the script, and it’s AMAZING. We (Elizabeth, along with mom and dad) couldn’t be happier to be part of it. What a BLESSING! Now we’re just looking for a place to stay while they’re filming. We have to bring the farm with us, (our rabbit, Honey and our bird, Kiko) so that might be a little tricky in terms of living arrangements. God is good!

Please forgive typos. Mom hasn’t had her coffee yet. <3