Central Florida talent agent Vicki Foley, who opened her own agency in 1990, has plenty of advice for parents with children hoping to become models and actors.
"I think it's a great industry," said Foley, who earned the nickname "Mother Goose" for looking after models while working in the advertising department of Hawaiian Tropic early in her career. "But there are a lot of star-struck parents who probably push their children a little further than they should be pushed to get into the business. I think a kid should be a kid."
Foley offers these five suggestions to parents looking to enter the business with their children.
No. 1: Find a reputable talent agent
"Word of mouth is the best way to find a great agency," Foley said. "We have to be licensed and bonded, fingerprinted and insured, so we're highly scrutinized with our practices and what we do."
Foley said all bonded agents have rules to follow, including contracts, keeping financial records and following timelines for each client.
Search for a licensed talent agent here.
No. 2: Seek out training opportunities
"If your child is interested, I think training is important," Foley said. "I don't think everybody is just a natural talent."
Foley recommends finding classes and training from local community theaters and acting schools.
No. 3: Be careful of managers promising to make your child a 'star'
"Most of the production companies hire a casting director, and we have some really great ones we work with here in Central Florida," Foley said. "They contact the talent agency. But for somebody to come up to you at the mall or on the street and say, 'Hey, I want you in my video,' you just really shouldn't do it until you've checked them out.
Foley explained that would be highly unusual and warns parents to be careful if someone promises to make their child an instant star and then demands money.
Foley said she knows people who have spent the money on such promises.
"A thousand dollars on a photographer, maybe $500 on a manager," Foley said those parents end up broke and disappointed.
No. 4: Understand contracts before signing
Foley said it's normal to sign a contract or a release to allow their children's images for a specified time period.
"That gives (clients) the right, called usage, (dictating) whether they're going to use your images for two years and what they're going to use them on, (such as if) they're going to use them on a billboard, on the internet, or a commercial," Foley said.
Foley said parents should read the contracts closely, because they could include unlimited use of images or other hidden line items.
"I had a little girl that did a commercial once, and there was a clause in there that said they could use her image on anything at any time for as many years as they wanted to," Foley said.
No. 5 Always supervise children
"A parent or a guardian should be on site with their child at all times," Foley said. "That includes on set, during filming, that would include makeup, hair and wardrobe."
Foley recommends even walking them to the bathroom.
"A parent should be with them at all times to make sure that a child is not coerced into doing something they were not expecting to do," Foley said.
Lastly, Foley recommends parents really think about if they are pushing their children into something they aren't ready for and make sure any jobs are age-appropriate.
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