Search
Follow Kveller
Feb 8 2011

So Your Kid Wants To Be An Actor? Tough Noogie!

By at 11:38 am

Mayim Bialik was one of those kids who wanted to be an actor. She is best known for her lead role on the NBC series Blossom and she now plays Amy Farrah Fowler, in the TV comedy sitcom, The Big Bang Theory.

So your kid wants to be an actor. A “real” actor; a “professional” one. I hear this a lot. And the questions I get next range from ”Should I?” to “Why the hell would I?” to “How do I?” Well, I’m going to lay it all out here as directly as I can.

Let’s name your kid Clive (yes–after Clive Owen, my favorite actor who is also my fantasy boyfriend).

Here’s the deal: if Clive wants to professionally act, your life will be driving Clive to auditions at the drop of a hat; schlepping him and any other kids you have to rooms full of adorable bubbly kids who have been trained to intimidate Clive and tell him he looks tired when the audition calls for a perky bright-eyed kid.

Force

Your relationship with Clive will technically be about you “forcing” him (we can call it “getting” him) to do things when he may not feel like it, such as act healthy when he is sick, act happy when he is grumpy, or act perky when he is tired. Clive also won’t really get “sick” days, so he needs to prepare for that reality as well. And you may find yourself bribing him as the occasion calls for it with toys, candy, and expensive clothing, so if you don’t like the sound of that, you may be already done with this article.

Obedience

Acting professionally is about obedience. If you think Clive gets mouthy now, wait until he has to keep quiet and take direction for hours from bossy grown-ups who really care more about making profits than how Clive is doing and the only safe place he can let loose is at home…

Self-Worth

Clive’s worth as his young brain sees it will be likely determined by some 20-year-old casting associate who will break his little heart and tell him he’s too skinny, too tall, too short, his front teeth are too big, his chin is too weak, he has too many freckles, his accent is way too seductive (oh wait- that would be the grown-up Clive Owen, never mind); whatever. You get the picture.

I’m OK, You’re OK

You may have to sometimes tell a crying Clive that he’s perfect just the way God made him even when everyone seems to be indicating that he’s not. Sure, there are things in life we all have to get used to. ER doctors and nurses, for example, have to get used to seeing death, but do we really “need” Clive to get used to being assaulted about his appearance? I’m not sure. Personally, I never got used to it. And I’m kind of glad I didn’t, because that would have meant I either a) became numb to being hurt, which is sad, or b) rationalized the criticism by deciding everyone was wrong and I was indeed superior to everyone, which is also really sad, but happens to a lot of kid actors.

Now, you can’t tell Clive all of this. You can’t tell him because he won’t believe you and he wants to believe he can rise above it and succeed. And that is the beauty of youth.

Going Local

If you want to give it a shot with Clive, contact children’s agents. If you don’t live in Los Angeles or New York adjacent, this whole process will be incredibly frustrating. I am sure you can submit Clive online; back in 1987 when I started acting, my parents actually typed a letter on a real typewriter and mailed it through the US Postal Service to kids’ agents in Los Angeles. I have no inside tips about finding an agent; the agent I chose when I was 11 said she saw something in my eyes that made her want to represent me. (She was also Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Dorff, and Johnny Galecki’s agent at the time, so I guess she clearly had a good eye!)

If you don‘t want to do the professional thing but want Clive to foster his love for performing (which is a wonderful and very positive skill and talent) community theater is an excellent idea, and it also can teach more than just acting: it introduces young actors to the nuts and bolts of performing from lighting to directing to production, thus expanding in their minds the possibilities for working in the arts.

And you don’t have to be a homeschooler to let Clive’s interest thrive with education that you design. He can read about theater and study theory. Actors and theaters in your community (especially improv actors) hold private classes for groups of kids even if it’s not someone’s birthday. Even adult actors you know who are struggling to succeed may be gifted teachers for seminars or small classes. Performing is not done in isolation; let Clive learn about the process, not just the applause.

Clive is trying to tell you something by expressing his desire to act. He craves attention, which, in moderation, is okay. He likes to make people happy. He likes being the guide for others’ emotions. Let him. But know your limits and boundaries too.

And for goodness sake, if Clive comes home in a few years and says he wants to run off with that Blossom chick who’s now on The Big Bang Theory, just know that you did your best and now he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

10 Responses to So Your Kid Wants To Be An Actor? Tough Noogie!

  1. jenifer says:

    i’m so glad you touch on the “act locally” aspect.

    a number of my friends have children who are 8. it is my experience (and observation and some research) that a lot of adults “choose” their career around age 8. i’m a yoga teacher today; i first got interested in teaching yoga at 8. my husband fell in love with film making at age 8; he’s a filmmaker. a lot of our friends — artists to engineers — all figured it out at age 8.

    i take age 8 seriously.

    so, what happens is that many of my friends have 8 yr olds. and if their 8 yr old says “i want to study neuroscience!” it’s jumped right behind: do well in school, here as science classes on the weekends; here are math flash cards. yay! you will go to harvard! lets make sure you take all the science classes possible in high school. etc etc.

    but when a child at that age chooses the arts, it’s treated like a flight of fancy. my husband is a case in point “you can’t do that! it’s too hard to succeed!” sad, really. or, i find, parents go a bit nuts and — well, as you say there’s lot of tough stuff to navigate and they may not have the skills,a nd quite honestly, the knowledge of what is *really* happening in the emotional space.

    but acting locally, that’s what i’ve always asserted.

    if my son (who is 2) asserts that he wants to act (he seems more interested in music right now, and all things machine and flying) at or around age 8, my first port of call is *not* an agent. though, i’m sure i could easily find one. no, it’s drama classes. simple, 8 yr olds recreational drama class. this might have a play or some sort of performance at the end. if he likes it, we continue, and then when he’s around 12 or so, head into community theater, improv, and so on.

    if, around age 16 or so, he is working in some way (volunteering or earning) we might — if he asks — spend some money on some head shots and a resume or some such, and perhaps court agents. if he wants to do more acting, or what have you, he is welcome to audition.

    then, if he wishes, he can go to university for drama or theater or whatever he wants in that. and when he graduates, he can move to any city in the world, do as he wishes with his degree, and i support him no matter what happens. good god, i just love this kid and want him to be happy.

    end of the day, though, acting locally is the way to go. the global dream may be for clive to become Clive, but in the 8 yr old moment, clive still needs to be clive. he needs to be a kid — outside of the grown-up pressures, and exploring his interest with joy and excitement, and increasing the “seriousness” of it as he can take that on — as he begins to grow into his “big C” Clive self. unfortunately, there are no half-sized letters in this version. :)

    it’s a bummer we don’t get the Big Bang Theory now that we are in NZ (no tv). When we were in the US, it was a favored show (and we only watched 3 shows). I think one of the channels here runs it, but i can’t figure out the seasons in opposite, let alone the download-able tv schedule. LOL

    many blessings!

  2. AJ says:

    Well said. And you say if they truly want to study acting… real acting, taught by a real actor, they can sign up for Jordan Lund’s acting classes. This is what I did. My nine year old wanted to study acting so I found this class in Riverside Ca. Taught at Temple Bethel Church. Jordan ( a long time veteran of stage and screen , look him up) teaches real acting. And dosent try to “make your child a star”. He teaches the art of acting. Thanks for the article!

  3. DM says:

    Hi
    I just wanted to thank you for the great blog post. I was raised in Los Angeles and wanted to be an actor as a child and my father wouldn’t let me. He thought the industry was too mean. You have just validated all his suspicions and I think I owe him a thank you! I also love hearing about your AP lifestyle- I am also an attachment parent and it is so great to hear your thoughts on it! Thanks so much!

  4. Tracy "Olgin" says:

    Hi, Mayim! Once upon a time I was very good friends with your brother Isaac and worked at Havurot Noar! Remember those days? You had just been chosen to film the pilot for Blossom. I just wanted to tell you how great I think your article is! It completely validated every reason why I won’t let my kids be involved in the acting industry. I especially loved your comments about how children’s self esteem is affected! And you forgot to write that only a very, very select few actually are lucky enough to be successful (including you!). Great to see you are still doing so well! I thought that girl on The Big Bang Theory looked familiar!

  5. Keyshia says:

    Hello Blossom,

    I clearly loved your show but I wanted to say that I totally disagree with the way you are raising your 2 sons. I read the article from the today show and I believe you are only doing this because you were so controlled as a child actor and you don’t want your children to feel the same way that you did. I can clearly see how this affected you by reading the above article and comparing it to the previous article about how you raise your own kids your parenting strategy makes perfect sense but believe that this style of parenting will clearly backfire and your children may grow up to be selfish adults thinking that they can get everything there way and will not be able to function in adult hood and they may eventually grow up resenting you for raising them that way, as perhaps you do your parents for pushing you into acting and forcing you to do it as well. Think you should rethink your parenting style…

    • Cindy says:

      My husband and I have four children, ages 24, 22, 18 and 16. We raised them in the family bed and breastfed, close to the authors style. We parenting with a democratic/authoritive style. None of our kids have been in trouble with the law. None have experiemented with drugs. The older two earned their undergrads on scholarships and are currently working on their doctorates. The younger two are doing very well in high school. They are both have high goals for their educations. In short, I can prove that the authors parenting style produces high achieving, well adjusted adults.

    • Razzeretto says:

      Do you go around just randomly telling people you don’t know that you like their shoes but clearly they are total screw ups as human beings?

      Or maybe, they have a nice smile but you really disagree with their choice of clothing?

      What is it like to live in a world where your opinion matters to everyone? Including people you don’t even know? (Hello??? Her name isn’t Blossom it’s Mayim)

      Your particular brand of judgy is especially wonderful, since you seem to be able to know both the full details of Mayim’s upbringing and how that affected her personality. Plus, as a special bonus, an astounding ability to foresee the potential impacts of her parenting style! WOW! I wish I were so gifted! You should be so proud of yourself!

  6. Kim says:

    Oh, you didn’t mention “RE-en”-actor options! The first time my future-traveling-minstrel son realized that the people in-costume at Historic Jamestown Virginia were actually getting PAID to play pretend he almost died of joy at the thought.

  7. Heather says:

    Thank you so much for this! Hilarious AND informative.

  8. Dede K says:

    I love the photo. It brought back such memories of my teenage years while you were on Blossom :) I was so tickled when my mom bought me my first “Blossom” hat!

Tags

Recently on Mayim

Blogroll

 

 

 

 

 

Read previous post:
Trolling for Preschools
Close