When Ryan and I moved from Rhode Island it left me without a job and a newborn baby. I knew that I wanted to put my daughter in commercials and get her an agent from the moment that I knew we were moving back to Los Angeles. I had an agent when I was young, and I was in one commercial when I was in High School and never pursued it further. But for my kid, I thought it would be a great idea if she had something to always fall back on, whether it be a trust fund of money from her work as a baby, or even a career in acting if she decided to go that direction.
With that said, it had been awhile since I submitted myself, and since then the game has changed. New agencies and submissions were different. Back in the day, we had photos that we mailed to every agency. That was a lot of postage! But I was also a teen, and the route we went through was from John Robert Powers. We spent thousands of dollars at one of those cattle call places, when really, if you’re a baby you don’t need acting classes. So without needing to sign up with a service and spending any money, here’s how WE ended up with our agent Paloma Model & Talent spending no money!
First Things First
Your baby is going to need an entertainment work permit. Especially if they are going to work as a newborn baby. In order to get a work permit, they need to have a social security number first. The entire process takes about a week from when you apply, so take care of these things ASAP. Since your baby is changing so fast, they need to look as newborn as possible for any newborn roles. Entertainment work permits last only 6 months, so you’ll need to renew.
Secondly, you’re going to need a Coogan Account. Coogan accounts can be made with pretty much any bank, just choose the bank you’re banking with and ask them to set up a Coogan Account for your child. Don’t get suckered into going to a specific bank that does them, just ask your bank if they can set up one for your kid and it’ll be mountains easier.
Lastly, some agencies will require you to set up accounts with casting sites before you submit. Some cost money for premium services, others don’t. Just set up basic accounts with Backstage, Casting Frontier, Casting Networks, and Actors Access. Have all of these ready before you submit to agencies.
Take Clear Photos Of Your Kid
Don’t worry about taking photos, you don’t need any special equipment or camera to get photos that they need, babies change so quickly that it’s just a waste to pay for a professional photographer each time. You can take photos yourself just using your smartphone or tablet, as long as it’s good resolution and great natural light you’ll be fine. In fact they would rather get them that way.
For babies that are newborn, take photos just as they are in a white onesie laid down on a clear background. If they are past that age 3- 6 months or 6-9 months, the next stage is for babies that can sit up. That’s what most castings will want them for at that age. If your kid is around 11 months and they’re walking then you can have photos of them standing.
For clothing, try to stay away from white clothes or black clothes. Take photos with colored clothes, outside (no blanket on the floor). You want to go for colors that will stand out. Bright colored clothes that have no ruffles, no prints, or graphics. Babies need to look like babies, so don’t dress them up too much or even in clothes that make them look too adult. No make up, crazy hair styles, and as much as your kid looks so silly with food on their face, make sure they are nice and clean! Also dresses or formal wear should not be used to photograph. They also need to be free of any toys or pacifiers, just the babies in their happy state.
Photos should be taken outside with nothing in the background as a distraction, such as a car or a bush. Just keep the background plain. Also, if they have hair, don’t have the background match the hair otherwise it wash it out in the photo. You will also need a variety of shots.
- Head Shot
- 3/4 Shot of head and mid body
- 1/4 profile shot
- Full Body Shot
- Whatever else they request.
Submitting Your Child
Once you have all your ducks in a row, now it’s time to start submitting your child to agencies. You can get a list of agencies through the SAG website where you can download the pdf list, but you need to be careful that you only choose agencies that do ‘Youth Talent’, as well as those that are SAG Franchised, and there aren’t that many. You can look at some agencies that do ‘All Ages’ but just be careful of how many adults to kids they represent. If there are too many adults, then most likely they will be paying attention to them rather than your kid. TIP: Look at each and every talent agency’s Yelp page, Instagram, and website. Make sure that they are a legit company and what their talent has booked. The last thing you want is to be signed for a year and they’ve never booked anything that’s kid related, or even worse, booked small little side gigs for their adult talent. You want an agency that’s highly rated that has good connections within the industry and will book good jobs.
Most agencies have a submission area on their website, where you can take your photos and upload them. Make sure they are less than 1MB, some don’t take photos that are larger than that. Then add in all details about your kid, their age, sizes, and features. Then in the notes, I would mention all of what you’ve set up already (work permit, Coogan account, casting site profile links). This shows that you are a prepared parent and you have everything ready to hit the ground running if they want to add you to their roster.
If they do want you, some places would want to meet the child, and others don’t. I’ve been to both types of meetings. The agent that we’re with right now, they’ve never met Skye. While other agencies that we met with, they wanted to meet her, hold her, and see her temperament. Don’t sign with anyone until you’re done shopping. If they hold a clipboard up to your face and ask to sign right away, just politely ask to wait until you’ve completed meeting with everyone and that you’re in no rush to sign…unless it’s one of the top agencies like Paloma Model & Talent!
Things To Consider Before Jumping Into The Entertainment Business
I would say this is 90% more about the parent than the child. This is definitely not a get rich quick type of path. In fact the money that is earned by your kid, is to all go to your kid. Plus your child will be making far less than your expectations (maybe a couple hundred bucks a gig), and don’t expect free clothes or products. They will be required to do things, like play and smile, even when it doesn’t revolve within their nap time schedule. With that said, you will be doing far more work with little to no pay off. You are the one who will be, taking updated photos, filling the paperwork out, setting up accounts, driving around town for auditions and gigs (sometimes at a moment’s notice), on top of being a mom or dad. This is a time commitment that you need to fulfill and be able to put everything on the back burner if and when they call, including your own job.
So if you are willing to go through all of that, and still have the drive to go through with it, then submit to your hearts desire! I wish you luck, and hope this guide finds you well. I wish you the best success for you and your child, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask down in the comments! OR if you’re a parent of a child actor and you have some sound advice to lend to open ears, feel free to do so down below.
Stay Healthy Mamas or Papas,