Updated: Nov 8, 2018
Often, a casting director will have a certain look in mind and when they see your child’s photos they choose to meet him or her in person, along with only a few others. They want to meet your child in person to see what their personality is like and how they will do in the spotlight. Will they cry and cling to mommy, or will they crawl around happy to be the center of attention? Since the roles for infants and younger toddlers don’t involve speaking the directors are looking for some inkling of your child’s personality, how well they do in front of an audience and what they look like on camera. When kids are a little older, they may be asked to walk or smile, or answer a few simple questions, maybe even recite a simple line or two.
One thing you'll notice is that parents are not asking how the audition went or whether their child got the part despite desperately wanting to know how their child did. Even if you do ask, you won't get much useful feedback. You’ll leave most auditions wondering if your child will be called back for a 2nd audition or given the job.
Casting calls are entirely different and can involve as many as 100 or more infants or toddlers all arriving in a given window of time. In my experience, these can seem quite chaotic and frequently involve long waits and frustrated parents, who must keep their kids entertained for long periods.
I took my twins to a casting call for a toy company when they were about 1 ½ years old. We were given a window of time to show up and we arrived on the later side. There were about 75 kids ahead of us and the waiting area was not large. I had some snacks, milk, toys and other things to keep them occupied but after a couple hours they were bored and wanted to roam. I was essentially chasing them both around the room trying to contain them. By the 3rd hour, I was exhausted. Finally, it was our turn to walk in front of the camera, stand in a certain spot and smile for the camera. My son was tired by then and he refused to walk to the designated area. He clung to my leg and began whimpering. I used all my powers of persuasion on him to no avail. I carried him to the designated spot and begged him to just stand and smile – just a quick smile that’s all! Instead of a smile, I got a full-fledged tantrum.
Needless to say, the casting director was quite annoyed with us. Unfortunately, my daughter was called next. The eternal optimist in me was hoping she would charm them into forgetting about my son’s disastrous performance. I asked her to stand on the special sticker and smile for the camera. My daughter had other plans and decided to join with her brother in solidarity and protest as well. She looked at me and began stomping her feet and yelling “No!” as loud as possible. The moral of this story is to arrive at casting calls very early so your kids can be seen as fast as possible.
The best-case scenario is when a director chooses your child based on their photos alone and doesn’t requires an audition. Your child is just booked for the job! The talent agency will give you all the details of the job. You and your adorable twins arrive and then the waiting begins. Sometimes you’ll have a private area or room to wait in but other times, you may be with a large group of kids or infants and their parents in one area.
We have spent hours waiting to be called because a scene had to be redone over and over before it was perfect. Come prepared with lots of snacks, milk, formula, toys and things to keep your child entertained, along with your phone charger.
When my twins were about a year old they were selected to be the backup for the regular toddler on a sitcom. No casting call or audition. They looked like the regular toddler who was on the show. We arrived at the studio in the morning and were fortunate to be given our own trailer for the day (just like a star!) It had its own bathroom and kitchenette and a living room area, so my kids could roam a bit, play with the toys I had brought, and it made it easier to feed them. From time to time, various people, such as the wardrobe person, the on-site teacher, and even assistant directors would stop by to check on us and give us information on what was happening. We were given the wardrobe for the scene that was being filmed and told to be ready at any time.
It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that my son was summoned to the set. Time to perform! When we walked onto the set, the director introduced us to the cast and everyone was extremely friendly and doting on my son. I learned that the twins who played the role of the baby had both had meltdowns and were tired. Shooting began, and my son did great despite the bright lights and tons of people watching. No crying at all! He seemed quite interested in all that was going on around him. The director allowed me to watch and in between takes to give my son a hug or some reassurance.
Once that was done, we went back to the trailer while the crew relocated to another part of the sound stage for a different scene. We changed wardrobe and waited. When we were called to the new set my son got another warm welcome from the cast and crew and the next scene was shot in only a few takes. When the scene was done, everyone applauded Alex’s “performance” and the director explained how difficult it was to work with infants and toddlers and how grateful they were that my son was easy to work with. It was a great ending to a long, yet exciting day. A few weeks later we had fun watching my son on TV and seeing the final product!
If this sounds like something you’d like to pursue, go for it. A few final thoughts to keep in mind-
All kids are unpredictable. Your job is to try and keep them as happy as possible when you’re on a job or at an audition. But we all know this is an impossible task. Be realistic and don’t be too hard on yourself if your kid loses it at the worst possible time. It happens.
Be prepared for long waits. Bring extra supplies and leave even more in your car in case you run out.
Other parents are very helpful. You can spot the ones who have done this awhile and “know the ropes.” Ask them questions and who knows, you may make a new friend or two.
Expect busy times and slower times. Work is not always consistent.
If your child is not chosen after an audition you will never hear anything- do not expect to be informed that your child was NOT selected. Assume they have not been selected unless you hear back from someone soon.
Don’t dress your kids up in frilly, fancy dresses and dress clothes for auditions unless you’re told to do so. Most casting directors just want to see your kids in simple clothes since they will be wearing a specific wardrobe for the shoot or filming anyways.
Talent agencies typically earn a percentage of your child’s pay – so it’s in the agency’s interest to book your child. If the talent doesn’t get paid, the agency doesn’t get paid.
In terms of location, you will need to live near a major city where filming or shooting takes place. For instance, Paloma Model & Talent only signs clients who live within 2 hours of Los Angeles. Any farther and it would be too hard to make it to last minute jobs, auditions, etc.
If you’d like more information, feel free to contact us. We would love to hear about your experience with your twins too!