Given that we run one of the country’s best acting camps for kids, we’re naturally keen to promote child acting in a positive way and educate the public on the topic, while at the same time being realistic about the potential pitfalls.
However, there are a number of common misconceptions about child actors that kids (and their parents) come up against whenever the topic is raised in conversation. Here we look at the top five myths of child acting that are brought up with a great deal of regularity.
Don’t All Child Actors Go Nuts?
Ah, the most common question of them all and, sadly, one of the first stigmas which come to mind when people hear the phrase ‘child actor’.
It wouldn’t be responsible to pretend it never happens, but to say all child actors end up going off the rails is facile and not representative of the truth.
A large portion of our most humble, down-to-earth and brilliant actors started their road to success at an early age (and arguably reached great heights because of it). We remember icons such as Natalie Portman and Christian Bale for the great work that they do, not because they were once child actors. Classic films are also full of similar success stories, and viewed through the lens of romanticism compared to their Nickelodeon counterparts of today.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of the small handful of actors who end up going off the rails and attract a negative stereotype which has turned into one of the biggest myths of child acting.
It’s an Empty Career
This one also comes under the guise of “Didn’t you want your son/daughter to become a doctor/lawyer/MIT graduate?”
As a population, we’ve been classically conditioned to view celebrity and fame as vapid and worthless in the larger context. There’s a good reason for that: largely, it is.
But that’s only if the concept of celebrity is viewed in a vacuum. What’s usually ignored is that the fame is just an inevitable by-product of having work in the public eye, and a lot of actors levy it in very positive ways. Whether it’s to raise money for a charitable cause or to support their hometowns, child actors often wield their standing in the community to great benefit (whether it’s reported on or not!)
Parents of Child Actors Care Less About Their Well-Being
This is just flat out not true.
We can’t speak for all parents, but as a general rule parents of child actors care more about their child’s mental and physical health because they’re all too aware of the pitfalls of acting.
It’s more common for such parents to try and support their children – and each other – in a way which is ethical, caring and in the best interests of kids, despite the fact that their career may have started at a relatively young age.
The Industry is out to Exploit Your Child
‘Exploitation’ is a very strong word, and once again a dose of realism is in order in order dispel some myths of child acting.
Around ten or fifteen years ago, there were a plethora of shady agencies who were happy to take your money in ‘admin fees’ and other set-up costs, but then do very little to no work.
Thankfully they’re now few and far between, and the few that do exist are easily identifiable. Out of those, they only tend to peddle their scam successfully on parents who are desperately and selfishly trying to thrust their kid into the limelight. In reality, responsible agencies won’t take on clients if they feel they’re being pushed into it by their parents or otherwise won’t be emotionally capable of handling the work.
Obviously acting is a business just like any other and profit is a driving force in the industry, but ethical concerns are more prominent than ever. That’s not to say caution should be exercised – it should, rigorously – but due diligence coupled with good parenting will head off most problems before they arise.
It’s Just Parents Living Vicariously Through Their Kids
Perhaps there is a bit of truth to this, and to that the only sensible response should be…
… so what?
Every parent wants more for their kids than they had growing up. It’s interesting that the same accusation isn’t levied at parents who encourage their son or daughter to go to med school, even though the desire to become a qualified doctor is as much monetary-related as it is for the benefit of society.
In conclusion, there’s nothing wrong with wanting your kids to be successful and taking delight in their triumphs. Whether your child is just starting out or already attending teen acting school, it can be a great journey for all parties involved when conducted in a responsible manner and with the child’s best interests kept at heart.