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Randi Mollo on Child Actors
 

by Misti Dawn Garritano

Child actor on the rise? Perhaps you, your child or your friend's child is interested in breaking into show biz. So, where do you start? What do you need to do to make this happen? I recently spoke with Randi Mollo, Partner of Mollo Management, who represents children, to find out what a kid and their parent(s)/guardian(s) really need to know to break into the business. She gives more than just the basic run-through, she gives you her heart and more than 30 years of combined experience.

So when can a child start acting? According to Randi, although she states a child can start at any age, she also believes it's a hard question to answer. She doesn't recommend forcing a child into the business; it has to be ingrained in their personality. That, she says, is identifiable and established after the age of 4. Personality, along with demeanor, is key and parents must know how their child will react in front of a camera and casting directors versus in front of people they already know. Will the child clam up or be themselves no matter what?

Being in a major city where there is established industry like Chicago, New York or Los Angeles gives the extra advantage when pursuing a career in entertainment. There is a tremendous outlet to immerse oneself in the trade. Auditions are, for the most part, conducted on a daily basis and, as Randi emphasizes, there is a lot of legwork involved and commitment from both the child and the parent(s). She says new parents don't realize how time consuming it is to have a child pursue acting. A lot of energy is invested in going after an acting career.

If in fact you don't live in the major cities, don't just pick up and move to NY or LA. She highly suggests exposing your child to local, community theatre to develop acting skills. Mollo believes that this process is one way to determine your child's skill and love for acting. It's in their best interest to start taking acting classes at the age of 12 or start as young as 7 years. She emphasizes that anything younger than 7 is a "no go" because kids are just being themselves at that age. Her concern for child actors is that parents do not have an unbiased way to determine whether or not their child has what it takes. This is where the expertise of management or an agent comes in.

Once a child actor herself, Randi is concerned about those in the business and tries to keep it in a positive light as well as realistic. Often kids change their minds and she urges parents to be sensitive to what their child is communicating in that respect. She says she almost discourages those who want it so bad and are blinded by other factors and gives a dose of reality. If she doesn't--who will?

As a talent manager, Mollo has heard many scary stories of talent agencies and the like who seek upfront fees to meet their children from new parents in the industry. A tremendous number of these organizations bring in hopeful talent all across the country to meet their "agents" who are attached to a very high price tag and the success rate is rare. In many cases, what children and parents are misled to think is a casting call most of the time is a very expensive training program with minimal agency stature. Randi states, "I'm on a mission to expose these companies. It's unethical. It's not illegal, just unethical."

It is important to remember that an agent's job is to find and assess talent. There is never any fee to meet with a talent agency. Be sure to visit SAG.org to find legitimate representation for your child. If there isn't an agency nearby, again, join a local theatre or look for local castings by way of your city's mayoral office. The local Film Commission provides online notices of any filming in your area. Mind you, it's not always for lead roles, but you can land an extra or background role.

So how do you find representation with Mollo Management? Submit a snapshot of your child exuding their personality. A natural smile, along with a camera-friendly appearance, or a photo displaying quirky and unique, or beautiful and gorgeous is great to send. According to Randi, children should not invest in headshots until they have representation. "They're still growing," she says and in a year could look completely different. However, Randi notes that one can only tell so much from a picture. So, when you do get that interview with her or any manager, there are 3 things to keep in mind:

-- Be prepared to read a commercial script
-- Perform under a 2 minute monologue
-- Talk about special interests skills, experience and personality

And when the time does come to take headshots, find a photographer who charges a reasonable rate for a child's session. Again, children are constantly changing.

Randi's nurturing side as a manager is apparent as she does her best to look out for her client's interest. Because of her own experience working as a child actor, she is sensitive to the needs of the child actor. "The impact of rejection can be detrimental--terrible and it is important for children to be right for the business because they are still developing their personality. A lot of kids do it for a while then burn out. It's more important to grow up in a healthy environment then be a child actor."

As a manager, Randi plays a large role by presenting opportunities to guide the young actor in the right training and finding representation through agents. She states, "The agents job is to negotiate the best deal for the talent. Management looks out for the actor's personal needs from the beginning; guiding and developing."

Find out more on Randi Mollo, Partner, at MolloManagement.com

 

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