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Representing the Next Generation - Agent David Doan on working with young actors
Written by: Kelly Calabrese
It's a hard knock life for anyone trying to break into the entertainment industry, but does the younger generation have it any easier?
"It is definitely still extremely competitive in the kids market, for sure," shares Agent David Doan from Generation TV, "but perhaps a little less than in the adult market."
David Doan got his start working with kids in Talent Management at J. Mitchell Management. He moved on to Nickelodeon in the Casting Department working with kids and teens before becoming an agent at Generation TV where he works as an Agent handling kids, teens, and young adults for TV, Film, and Theatre.
Since David has had the unique experience of working all angles of the young talent market from Manager to Casting Director to Agent... NYCastings asked him to share what he looks for in child actors and what he watches out for.
If acting is the row your child wants to hoe, check out this insight from David Doan...
Q: At Generation there are two groups - Generation Model Management and Generation TV - what is the difference?
Generation Model Management was opened in 1984 by owner Patti Fleischer as a kids print/modeling agency. She then expanded the company by adding the on camera division which is known as Generation TV. GenTV has both Theatrical and Commercial departments.
Q: How important is personality for kids - compared to just appearance and talent? Does it differ for modeling versus Generation TV/the acting side?
Personality is really key when dealing with young actors. For young models, a personality helps of course, but it is definitely essential for kids in this business.
Q: What are you looking for in terms of a disposition of a child model / actor?
We are looking for kids that are well behaved and motivated, and that really want to be doing this.
Q: How do you determine which kids you do want to work with?
A lot of it has to do with who I already have on my client list. I try to avoid having too many kids that are the same type, age, race, etc. SO many kids are just not a good fit for this industry. You can tell pretty quickly which kids have that natural “it factor”.
Q: Does how the parents behave / represent themselves affect your decision to represent children?
Absolutely. We deal with the parents a lot more than with the kids. If a parent is a problem or difficult or hard to deal with, it can absolutely affect my decision to represent their child.
Q: To audition as a kid, do they often need to miss school?
For kids, all auditions generally happen between the hours of 3 – 6 p.m. Kids should not have to miss school for auditions. For bookings, they will most likely need to miss school.
Q: What should a child's headshot look like? Do the requirements differ from adults at all?
Headshots should represent what the child actually looks like. Children should never wear make-up or be all glammed up. You want the headshot to accurately represent them. Color shots are standard.
Q: Should a child have an acting website?
I don't think an acting website is necessary for child actors. I don't think it's a bad thing, but just not a necessity. If you do have one, you should avoid putting too much contact information on there, such as home address.
Q: What if a child has a fear of something, like heights, animals or eating a certain food? Does that come up often?
It definitely can. A Casting Director will always alert agents if a child has to eat a specific food or be around animals or anything that should be cleared with parents. If you are auditioning for a Skippy Peanut Butter commercial and the ad agency wants the kid to eat a peanut butter sandwich in the commercial, and the child has a peanut allergy, then you should definitely not go to the audition.
Q: Do jobs often book two kids, in case the child gets nervous or ill?
For younger kids and babies they do often book more than one kid. You never know the temperament of young ones, so they will almost always hire one or more back-ups. They love identical twins as well, so if one gets moody or sick or just tired, the other can jump in.
Q: Do children get paid differently than adults?
It depends on the project and what it is, but sometimes kids do get paid less than adults.
Q: There are work permits and locked bank accounts to protect the children. Are these new protocols or have they existed for a long time?
Work permits have existed and been required for a long time, however the trust account requirements have only been in place within the last decade.
Q: What is your advice to kids/parents for keeping a career going as the kids get older?
Keep training! Continue to take classes and get as much experience as you can, whether it is school or community theater or student films. There will be slow times and there will be busy times. Kids tend to be busiest between 8 – 12 years old. Then it slows down a great deal in the teen years. One reason being that they can hire a legal 18 year old to play teens, so they don't have to deal with Trust Accounts and Work Permits and Child Labor Laws, Tutors, Parents, etc.
Thank you David Doan for your insight.
For more information on Generation TV and Generation Model Management visit http://generationmm.com/
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