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Launching Your Child’s Talent Career

November 23, 2016

Launching a Talent Based Career

Do you know the common thread that runs through most actors’ careers?  Ask any working actor how they got started and each one will have their own unique story, but some things remain the same: the basic ways in which the large majority of working performers got their initial gigs.  And while Hollywood loves to tell the overnight breakout, dream-scenario stories of those in the limelight, it is important to note that most working, paid actors started off just like any other - as an extra and in commercials.  

In last weeks article, “Becoming an Extra,” Children In Film outlined the job of an extra and explained why what is seemingly a “small” job, is actually a huge doorway to a successful career and often the very first one.  After that many actors pursue commercials as their first opportunity for speaking roles.

So how can you break in via Extra and Commercial work?

  • Network, network, network.  Establish relationships with other people who work in the industry including budding directors, screenwriters, cameramen and editors. Hollywood as an industry is very small.  Make sure you know as many people as you can.
  • Work on short films, student films and low budget films to build up your resume.
  • Use your best work to create a reel. Showcase yourself.  Start a Youtube channel, tell people what you’re working on via a blog and post your work on social networking sites.
  • Get an Agent and/or Manager.  Children In Film often speaks about how finding representation is the first crucial step in breaking into the industry. This is indeed true.  From the very start you should be looking for an agent or a manager.  You’ll likely need a bit of work to show for yourself in order to land a good one, and remember, you don’t want to necessarily jump on the first train that comes through town.  Take your time and research who is out there before signing with a pro.  To research rated and recommended agents and managers click here.


Families looking to get their children started in television and film will want to recognize that no job is too small, and first try their hand as an extra.  Not only is the experience on set important, but the work itself is a starting point for your resume and a way to meet others in the industry.  Extras, hired to fill out the scene to make it look more realistic, have a variety of employment opportunities throughout the country.   If you have ever seen the 1982 film “Night Shift” starring Henry Winkler, maybe you noticed a young Kevin Costner playing an extra in a party scene.


When your child feels ready, consider commercial acting.  The work you’ve done as an extra, as well as the connections you’ve made should help you find representation - an agent or a manager who can help you get commercial work.  Don’t try to jump the gun though; while many actors make a living in commercials, remember they likely still did time as an extra to get on-set experience.  
It’s also important for families to manage their goals and expectations from the start, and ask themselves why they want to work in the industry to begin with and what they hope to accomplish in the end.  You can read more about managing expectations and setting family goals in our KidStart Program.  This is a career choice because you enjoy the craft, not because you enjoy the notoriety and, every so often, from all this hard work a star is born.

Did you know Brad Pitt once appeared as a mascot for the fast food chain El Pollo Loco?

Starting off as an extra and then as a commercial performer are great ways to break into the industry.  The ladder could end up being a life-long career or, perhaps, it will lead to better things.  Provided you are enjoying the experience of the craft, it’s a great way to pursue your passion while getting paid to do it.