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Success Stories

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Patricia Riley

Mother of Bailee Madison

Bailee Madison is probably best known for her role as Maybelle in Disney's Bridge to Terabithia, but her mother Patricia can attest to the fact that this role definitely was not her "start."

No, Miss Madison, with the help of her devoted mother, has been pursuing a career in entertainment since before she was even old enough to realize it.  She had her first role in an Office Depot commercial when she was only two weeks old.  Though her first roles may have come mainly from her mother's interests in pursuing a career for her in entertainment, Bailee's passion for the entertainment industry is now truly her own.  Her gift for acting has landed her numerous roles in movies like Lonely Hearts, Phoebe in Wonderland and Brothers.  She can also been seen in commercials for major companies including Disney, Sea World and Cadillac.

It's no surprise that Bailee and Patricia want to continue her career in entertainment.  They know that the road has only begun, but their dedication and commitment to the art, and to each other, are strong as they continue to move forward.

On Making it in Show Biz

CIF: What do you consider your first "Big Break?"
Patricia: I guess you'd have to say it was Bridge to Tarabithia - the film did so well.

CIF: Did it turn out to be as "big" as you thought it would be?  What do you think are some common misconceptions about what it means to "make it" as a child actor?
Patricia:  I usually am optomistic, but when she landed "Bridge" I was thinking, "Oh my God, wait until this comes out," but honestly it was another five months before she even booked anything else.  So I guess we all have to understand that success comes in stages.

CIF: What were the early signs that Bailee was meant to be in the limelight?
Patricia:  I've worked in commercials for many years now - since I was twelve - and when she was three my older daughter and I would go to auditions and such.  Bailee would unhook herself from her stroller and start interacting with people.  She loves people; she's very social and outgoing.  She once had a shoot for nine weeks which is a lot of set time for a child her age.  She was only eight and she had such natural energy.  I wanted to crash and she kept going.

CIF: When you were first starting out, did you fall for any "scams" or tricks?  How did you make sure you weren't being taken just because you had a desire to achieve success with her career?
Patricia: Luckily I haven't really fallen victim of anything major because of my background in the industry, but I will say representation is very important.  An agent that will represent you and belive in you and one that you can believe in and trust is so necessary.  It's important not to get locked in to a contract or fall for the first person who makes big promises.

On Parenting a Show Biz Kid

CIF: What's the hardest part about being a parent to a child actor?
Patricia: Sacrifice.  Our whole life is in Florida.  It is a financial sacrifice, a commitment and a full time job.  Bailee has huge meetings and I have to be there.  Again, the whole thing is definitely a process.

CIF: How do you keep Bailee grounded?  Does she have church, chores, etc?
Patricia: She's a good girl, she has a good heart.  She is polite on set, but...well, I am all over it.  I keep her humble.
Bailee: Mommy and I get up every morning and say our prayers - we know it is not about us.  We aren't doing this to have it be "about us."

CIF: What is the biggest mistake you've made as a parent in entertainment?
Patricia:  Being too trusting too soon.  Always read the fine print and don't get wrapped in.

CIF: What is your definition of a good "stage parent?"
Patricia:  One who stays in the back.  If she needs me, I'm there.  I'm polite and I don't talk too much.  She is there to do her job.  My preparation and job comes before we're on set.  It starts at home.

On Education

CIF: How do you school Bailee?
Patricia:  She is enrolled in a private school in Florida and has a studio teacher on set.

CIF: Is it hard to keep a work/school balance?
Patricia:  Yes, it is stressful.  I really value education.  I even hired an extra tutor.

CIF: Does your child want to be in entertainment as an adult or does she want to do something else?
Patricia:  Well, when she's not working she's pretending to direct.  She's also involved in things like skating, horse back riding and activities with friends and family.  We feel very fulfilled and I think it is important for her to have structure and balance in her life.  I go for a job, she goes on her scooter.  She's a normal child with a lot of friends that we can trust.  I trust she'll make good decisions.

On Children In Film

CIF: What is your current relationship with Children In Film...have we been a good resource?
Patricia: Trisha gets our permits - I like you guys and recommend you to others.  This is a really great thing.