I'm not a professional but we've done the whole application process and several casting calls with my son, and at just 2 months old my girls have booked their first gig. Friends have been asking left and right for tips on how to get their kids into the business so I thought why not just put something together to help guide them a wee bit? Here's what I've got:
Don't Pay a Dime
Seriously, no agency should ask you for a dime up front. If they do, they're most likely a scam. You don't even need professional photos - just casual shots you take at home in a simple well lit setting, showing their face (no hats or props) and wearing simple clothing without logos or graphics.
Where the money comes in is getting to and from casting calls, hiring a babysitter to watch your other kids, etc etc. This is TOUGH to shell out for since you are very unlikely to get the paying gig, but you don't have any chance if you don't go unfortunately!
Find Legit Agencies
But how do you know if they're legit? Do a Google search. Check with the Better Business Bureau. Ask around! You want to make sure they don't have complaints against them for not paying in a timely manner and as I mentioned above, you want to make sure they're not charging you to sign up with them or forcing you to pay for a professional portfolio through them. They make their money as a commission from your child's gigs, and trust me, that's enough!
"Like" and click "Receive Notifications" on their Facebook pages to be kept in the loop of upcoming castings, and check through their wall for engagement to see how they respond to their families and what kind of gigs they are coming up with. I've seen some with a lot of negativity and I get it, being an agent can be frustrating, but some of them just come across as very unprofessional and I really wouldn't want to work with them.
Some agencies have a quick and simple online application process or via e-mail, others require you to send everything via snail mail. Some also host big open calls (they pick a day and an age group and invite anyone and everyone to come in between the hours of XX - XX) where they look for new recruits. These can be chaotic but can also be great if you have a child who really shines in person with their cheeky personality! Just be prepared - the agents often are quite blunt with no filter. It's the business and it's not always nice, even when children are involved (and present)!
Work Permits & Bank Accounts
The industry tries to protect the interest of the children in the acting and modeling worlds. Before they can step foot on the job, they have to have a work permit. New York provides animmediate 1st time work permit good for 15 days (convenient if they book their first job last minute) but then you have to get a work permit for 1 year and renew it within 30 days of expiration. As part of the work permit application, you have to get a health form filled out by their doc, a form filled out by their school, and a form filled out by a financial institution showing you've set up a special custodial trust fund (UTMA, UGMA, Coogan, or Blocked Trust) into which a minimum of 15% of their earned money must be placed and cannot be touched by the parents.
Some Agencies To Consider in NYC
I've noted whether application is online (including e-mail) or via snail mail.
Have you gotten your kids into the business? Are you an agent? Share your experiences and advice below!!
DISCLAIMER: I cannot be held liable for any inaccuracies in the above information and I do not endorse any of the agencies listed, they simply appeared legit in my research. Please be sure to do your own research!
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!