Some of the best actors in the business began as child actors. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Watson are among only a few child actors who are now some of the most wanted actors in Hollywood. Parents with talented children often want to know the process of how to become an actor as a kid. How does working with a child actor differ than working with any other actors? We’ll answer all of these questions in more detail in this article.

child actors Explained

How do we define child actor?

The term “child actor” may seem self explanatory, but there are a few details that distinguish them from other types of actors. Let’s take a look at the definition of child actor to give us some base level insight on how to become an actor as a kid. 

CHILD ACTOR DEFINITION

What is a child actor?

A child actor is a child who acts in stage plays, television, or cinema. Child actors take on the role of young characters. By law, the education of a child actor must not be disrupted whether that education is public, private, or home schooling. Productions must also have a set teacher so that the child actor may continue their education while working on set. These are only a few of the explicit laws created to protect child actors. 

Many child actors who find success find difficulty in the different lifestyles and stardom. Many child actors do not continue their career in acting due to these difficulties. However, there are many child actors who continue their acting careers to be successful.

Famous child actors:

  • Macaulay Culkin
  • Haley Joel Osment
  • Lindsay Lohan

how to audition for movie as a Child

How to become an actor as a kid

Getting started as a child actor is similar to starting an acting career at any age. Breaking into the industry requires persistence and hard work. If you are a parent of an aspiring child actor, this goes for both you and your child.

Child actors (and children in general) learn fast and are able to grow their skill set rapidly within a small amount of time. 

That said, children also love being children. Child actors who love to act and perform will most likely stick with it longer. Here are a few ways children who are passionate about acting get started. 

1. Get an agent

If you are the parent of an aspiring child actor, you may be weary of getting an agent. Don’t be. Be weary of getting a bad agent. Good agents, however, are essential to getting opportunities with different talent agencies. 

Here's actress Tessa Netting on answering questions about how she got started in her career, including how she landed an agent.

How to become an actor as a kid  •  Ask Tessa Netting

The more you work with agents, the more investment they will have in you and your child. Getting started in the acting world can also be intimidating. An agent or a manager can help be a liaison between you and this new industry. 

2. Take professional headshots

Once you get an agent they will ask you to get new, professional headshots of your child. Getting creative with these headshots is a great way to have your child stand out. Let your child have fun and show their personality in their headshots.

How to be a child actor Start with a headshot

How to be a child actor? Start with a headshot

3. Enroll in acting classes

As an aspiring child actor, your child must have fun acting of course. So let them practice it by enrolling them in some acting classes. Especially at their young age, children are able to learn incredibly fast and still have a big imagination. 

Acting classes can also help you network and learn from other parents of child actors. Not to mention, taking classes can help add to your child’s acting resume. For example, if they practice voice over acting in class you child can act voice over acting to their skill set.

Child actor voice over acting

Child actor voice over acting

4. Practice a monologue

Work with your child on nailing down their favorite monologue. Most likely, your child will be asked to perform a monologue of some sort in an audition for any speaking role. Having a monologue dialed in will help them get the part. 

5. Audition

Your agent or manager will help you get auditions. It is your job as a parent to prepare your child for the audition, get them there, and communicate with them in the face of both success and rejection.

Here's a fantastic example of how to audition for a movie as a child. This is young actor Henry Thomas pouring his heart out during an audition for one of Steven Spielberg's best movies, the classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

How to become an actor as a kid  •  Kill the audition

Your child should be having fun throughout this process and should understand that every step is an opportunity to learn. 

how to be an actor as a kid?

Working with child actors

On the opposite side of production, working with child actors also has its own implications both by law and in practice. Here's a video that breaks down a lot of the legal considerations when working with children.

How to be a child actor  •  Rules and regulations

Here are a few things to keep in mind when working with child actors if you are taking on the role of a producer.

1. Getting a set teacher

By law a child’s education cannot be disrupted by their work on a production. Set teachers (also called studio teachers) are required by child actor labor laws. Essentially, set teachers act as a child actor’s tutor and supervisor. Keep in mind that your production will have to pay for the set teacher who’s day rate can cost hundreds of dollars a day.

Set teacher with child actor

Set teacher with child actor

2. Time restrictions

Another law that pertains to child actors is working time restrictions. Child actors are only allowed to work a certain amount of hours per day. How many hours they are allowed to work depends on their age. 

A child’s time on set must be divided between work time, education, and recreational time. For SAG productions, a report of these times will be listed on the Exhibit G Form.

3. Obtaining Child Actor Permits

Once you cast a child actor, you must ensure that their work permits are up to date. This is ultimately the responsibility of the parent of the child actor. But open communication with the parent begins with ensuring all documentation and permits are in order.

A production will also have to apply for a permit to employ minors. While this may depend on the region your production is taking place in, most regions will require any individual or business entity to obtain legal permits to employ minors as an artist, performer, or entertainer.

how do you become an actor as a kid?

Famous child actor roles

Some of the most memorable child actor performances have come from a combination of a great child actor, a great story, and a great director. Steven Spielberg is notorious for his ability to direct child actors which is no easy feat. It is a part of Spielberg’s directing style to use the wonder and imagination of kids in his films.

It is no wonder that some of the best child actor performances have come from some of Spielberg’s best films such as HookA.I. Artificial Intelligence and War of the Worlds

But what are the best performances in cinema by child actors? Check out this top ten list of best child actor performances in the video below.

Top 10 Great Movie Performances by Kids

Child actors are incredibly vital to cinema. Cinema tells stories from all walks of life with the inevitable inclusion of the perspective of children. Child actors who choose to act because of their passion and excitement for it can bring an incredible amount of value to a film. They are capable of delivering brilliant performances that create memorable films. 

UP NEXT

Best Casting Websites

Once your little Brando is ready for auditions, here are some of the best sites to find them. We included a breakdown of the pros and cons of each site, along with tips on how to nail the perfect audition. Let’s go!

Up Next: Casting Websites →
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