It wasn’t until I was 14 years old that I obtained my first talent agent. If it wasn’t for the continual education my mother went through in regards to the acting industry, I would have been signed by scam artists long before being signed by a legitimate talent agency. As a parent of a child actor, you must understand the rules when it comes to working with an agency as well as the warning signs to determine if you’re being ripped off.
Dealing with a talent agency when you have a child actor requires a delicate balance of business savvy and sensitivity toward your child’s dream. Above all else, your goal should be for the success of your child.
Signing with the Agency
Before ever signing with a talent agency, you must first do your research. While many reputable talent agencies hold open calls for child actors, you must thoroughly research each agency before attending an open call. The reason for this: many “child” agencies are scams. They gather a room full of parents and children and by using their dreams and aspirations as a foothold, they’ll scam thousands of dollars out of unknowing parents.
Before ever attending an agency open call, or interviewing with an agency, ensure the following:
Agency Compensation – A reputable talent agency only collects money as commission from booking your child a job. If an agency requires a “registration fee” or requires any type of monetary fee in order to be signed, walk away. While acting classes are vital for the success of your child, never sign with an agency that requires you to enroll in classes within their agency or with a particular “acting school.” This is a scam. Never sign with an agency who requires you to use a particular photographer. Headshots are a requirement, but the headshot photographer should be assigned by your choice – not the agencies.
Online Review – When I first started out in acting, there were very little reviews online about talent agencies, which allowed scam agencies to flourish. Nowadays, you must consult the Almighty Internet before attending an agency interview. Search for reviews about the agency and its practices. These honest reviews from past or current talent will shed some light into business dealings of the agency.
Agency Commission – Even if the agency doesn’t require a “registration fee” or any other of the aforementioned warning signs, scam agencies have found ways to attract talent. You should never sign with a talent agency whose commission rate is greater than 15 percent. I’ve seen far too many child actors literally robbed of their money because their agent tricked their parents into signing a contract with a 30 percent or higher commission rate.