So You Seriously Want Your Kid to Be a Star? (cont'd)

Here is some helpful advice for those parents who are serious about their children pursuing careers in the arts and/or the entertainment industry:


First, be honest about whether they have talent. Are they really talented or is it wishful thinking on your behalf? If they sing and dance, is it "cute" or do you really see and hear that "something?" Clearly define what their talent is. If they can dance wonderfully well but can’t sing—be honest and focus on the strength.

Secondly, ascertain how they feel about their talent and what they want to do with it. If her heart is not in wanting to start the rigorously long journey of preparation, then should you force them?

If they decide they want to or if they have the slightest bit of interest in the possibility, send them to classes. Find competent, well-trained and experienced instructors. Go to the library and expose them to information about what they will be embarking on. For instance, if they want to sing, start letting listen to a wide array of musical artists, genres and styles. Take them to performances.

Not to be biased, but I would lean towards those instructors who have had experience in major markets such as New York, Los Angeles or even Chicago. An actor or acting teacher with 15 years experience or training in a major market might be better qualified than either an English teacher teaching drama, a PHD college Professor teaching at a university with no real world experience or a locally revered and seasoned acting teacher or director whose experiences are limited to one area.

Who would you rather take a class with: John who has a PHD in Film Theory, 10 years teaching at a university and no work experience in the film industry? Or Susan a college dropout who worked for, let’s say, AOL Time Warner in New York and Los Angeles for 12 years in a meaningful position let’s say as Producer, Casting Director or Program Acquisition?

Your child should definitely take as many classes in the various disciplines—as many as you can afford or as many as time permits. If they want to act then they should also take dance classes and voice lessons. If she wants to sing then she should take acting as well as fencing. If he wants to dance, then he should take ballet, modern, ethnic, primitive, etc. Their arts training should be well rounded.

One question to ask any potential acting teacher is this; what do you think about the Method for my child? Now, even if they do not teach "Method Acting," they should be able to competently comment on the subject. If they cannot, then I’d count that as strike against them. By the way, that’s kind of a trick question. For more information, e-mail me and I will fill you in.

Another thing to consider, just because a person has worked on two films or five videos or has three CD’s on the market doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the most qualified or competent to teach. It might very well be that the person behind the person is the person you want to learn from. Don’t fall for the hype—the image, the marketing—when looking for someone to teach your child!
Thirdly, become knowledgeable about the business. Take the time to appreciate the business aspects of the industry and by all means, grasp the legal aspects as well. And whatever you learn, impart that information to your child along the journey in a way that they can understand.

Trust me, even if they are young and you explain now—when they get older they will be prepared. Remember, they have very fertile and impressionable minds. As a matter of fact, (LOL) at night, when you are putting them to bed, you might want to read to them from This Business of Music or some other publication considered to be the "bible" of the industry.

Going into it, you should know what a release is and the myriad releases there are. Along that same line, if your child writes poetry, lyrics, raps, rhymes, scripts, etc., have their material properly copyrighted before showing them to anyone—no matter who that person is. You should know the basics of Copyright Law. By the way, if anyone says they have something "copywritten," tell them the proper word is "copyrighted." Such a misuse of the word serves as an indicator of what they know or don’t know.

And please find out what a Confidential Disclosure (also referred to as a Non-Disclosure Agreement) is—when and why you use a CD as it relates to sharing your intellectual property with another person. You don’t know what Intellectual Property is? Well you should if you or your child creates your own work such as previously mentioned. Cut!

That’s a wrap on Take One…

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Timothy Aaron-Styles has worked in diverse media & communications and entertainment over the last 20 years in Atlanta, New York, Bermuda and Columbia, South Carolina including stints at CNN Headline News, CitiGate DeweRogerson, and with Mayor Maynard Jackson’s Communications staff in 1990. He attended Brooklyn College, Mercer University in Atlanta and eventually graduated from Georgia State University in Atlanta with a Bachelor’s in Film/Video and Marketing. He can be reached at: