Updated: Nov 8, 2018
If you’ve ever looked at your twins’ smiling faces and thought, “they should be on TV,” or if people say your twins are so adorable they should be in the next Gap Kids ad, read on. Your twins could be the next big thing!
It’s fun and exciting seeing your children on TV or in a print ad but before you commit yourself- and it is a major commitment on your part – you should consider a few important things.
1) You’ll need a talent agent.
Trying to get your child or children booked without a talent agent is extremely difficult if not impossible. Submitting your twins for consideration to a talent agency is very easy - many talent agencies that represent infants and children allow you to simply submit photos online. They will contact you if they are interested in representing your kids. There are talent agencies who specialize in infants and children, and others who only represent teenagers and adults. Others represent all ages.
If your child or children are invited to join the agency, you will sign a contract with that agency outlining your responsibilities along with the agency’s responsibilities, fees, etc. Usually, your kids will have an exclusive agent (there are exceptions, such as with agencies who specialize in background work or extras). The agent will represent your twins for everything, including film, TV, commercials, print etc.
2) Signing with a talent agency is always free.
Companies that ask you to pay them to represent your twins are something else entirely. You will never have to pay an agent to represent your twins. There are, however, some costs associated with having an agent. For instance, you will need to have professional photos taken, with specific outfits, colors and styles. You may need to purchase clothes for these photoshoots. When your kids are infants and very young toddlers, they change so fast that you will need to update their photos on a regular basis so the agency has accurate and current photos on file.
Often, you will get a call in the evening for an audition or job taking place the next morning. You may get calls in the morning requesting that your child audition later that same day. You are expected to drop everything, get your kids ready and get them where they are supposed to be on time. Most auditions, casting calls and jobs take place during the workday Monday-Friday. This can be difficult for working parents. Typically, siblings are not permitted to tag along so you may have to drive one twin to an audition and find someone to look after the other, with very short notice.
4) Related to the time commitment is the commitment to attending auditions/casting calls etc.
If your child is selected for an audition or placed on a job you must go. You can’t just decide you’re not interested in that opportunity. When your child is booked for an audition or a job, your agent is assuring the casting director that your child will be there. If you decide not to go at the last minute or don’t show up, this reflects badly on the agency.
Sometimes you will be given additional information about the type of film or type of work your child is being asked to do and you will have an option to decline. For instance, if an audition is for a part in a horror movie and the director wants your child to be a disturbing scene, you certainly can let your agency know that you don’t want your child to participate. You are not forced to participate in anything that you find objectionable, but in my experience, the vast majority of jobs for infants and toddlers are not objectionable.
5) Be prepared for rejection.
Yes, your twins are adorable, but there are a lot of other adorable kids out there! You must be prepared for rejection and not take it personally. Casting directors are often searching for a look, or hair color, or height that your child just doesn’t fit. Sometimes your child doesn’t do so great in an audition. Don’t worry, there will be many more opportunities- let it go and move on.
6) Identical twin infants and toddlers are in high demand due to labor law working hour restrictions.
Identical twins are often used “interchangeably” so to speak, extending the time your twins can work in a given day. For instance, Twin A could work for 4 hours then Twin B could work for 4 hours for a complete day of work.
Once you're signed up with a talent agency, they will let you know what you’ll need to get started. They will go over your state’s child labor laws and requirements. Typically, you will need to obtain a work permit for minors from the state Department of Labor. In California, there is no fee for this, but the work permit is only valid for 6 months (in California) so it must be renewed every 6 months.
Next, if you are in California, you’ll need to set up a Coogan bank account for each of your twins. Funds your child earns must be deposited into this account. Money earned by a minor under a contract remains the sole legal property of the minor child.
In California, this law is commonly known as the “Coogan Law” which was enacted to safeguard minor’s earnings until they are adults. The original bill was passed in 1939 in response to the plight of Jackie Coogan, who earned millions of dollars as a successful child actor only to discover, upon reaching adulthood, that his parents had spent virtually all his money.
Finally, you’ll usually get professional photos of your child done and they will be added to the various casting websites so casting directors can find your adorable child. Most agencies, such as Paloma Model & Talent in Los Angeles, will provide you with lists of photographers who have experience with children and who know what the agents are looking for. Many of these photographers offer discounted rates for kids in that agency.
Once this is done, you’re all set! Time to sit back and wait for the offers to roll in, right? Well, not exactly. You may wait. And wait. You could wait quite a long time, or you could have a job offer or audition immediately . . . one never knows what the need is at any given time. Most often, the types of jobs you’ll be offered are not long-term or permanent. They could be small parts in a TV series or movie. Or a commercial. Or a photoshoot for an ad for children’s clothing, toys or baby gear. There’s no limit to the types of jobs your twins could audition for. Stay Tuned for Part 2 where I explain more about auditions and casting calls.