Too often I’m confronted with people who ask about the well being of young performers. Questions such as “How are they able to socially adjust if they’re always pretending to be someone else?” and “How do they have time to do ‘normal’ kid stuff if they’re always running to auditions and working on set?”
The life of a young performer is, in fact, busy, busy, busy. Busy with the same things that children do even if they’re not in the business.
I had the pleasure of speaking with 13 year-old Hailey Sole of Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and 11 year-old Gabe Eggerling of Amazon’s The Kicks on what it’s like to be a child in show business.
Hailey, when is your birthday?
I’m 13 years old and turning 14 on the 29th of August. [From NYCastings: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HAILEY!]
What’s the difference between working on a Netflix series vs. a prime-time network series like Criminal Minds vs. a webisodes series like Ghost Whisperer: The Other Side?
They all have a very similar style of shooting, with multi-cameras and either in a studio or on location. The difference with Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp is it was shot completely outdoors, and the entire eight weeks was shot wearing the same clothes, since the show is based on the “First day of Camp.” Also it’s a comedy, whereas the other shows are drama and contain more serious content. Lastly, since Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp was a comedy, there was more room to improvise, and not stick to the script as seriously. When working on a drama show, such as Criminal Minds and Ghost Whisperer: The Other Side, they would typically stay true to the script.
How is craft services / food?
Craft services are always one of the best parts of being on set. Every day they bring out a variety of different foods that are delicious.
Did you have a trailer or dressing room or just an all-purpose room to hang out in with everyone else?
I had a trailer, but I was only in it to change into what I needed to wear for the show. For the most part, I was with all the other campers in one big room while we did our homework with the set teacher, or just hung out outside while waiting between scenes.
What is the difference between Netflix and prime-time when it comes to hair and make-up?
For Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, my hair was done exactly the same way for the entire eight week episodes. But when I worked on Criminal Minds or other shows, I was able to wear different clothes, and they changed my hair style depending on the role I was playing. On Criminal Minds I was even able to wear a wig.
What was it like being nominated for the Best Performance in a TV Series – Recurring Young Actress Ten and Under for the 32nd Young Artist Awards for your role as Betsey Parker in ABC’s Private Practice?
I was so excited, and couldn’t believe that I was being nominated!
Who helps you with your employment contracts?
Since I’m only 13 years old, my agent and manager do all my negotiations, then they call my parents and go over everything before we commit to a project. I feel confident that my agent, manager and parents have my best interest at heart and want the best for me. Also, my parents always ask me for my opinion on things before signing onto things.
Tell us how your schooling works.
Well, I go to a normal school that supports my acting, and when I book a job, my teachers provide me with my school work. When I work, television, film or commercials, the production company provides a set-teacher for me to help me with my school work. When I’m not working, I go to school just like everyone else, and I even find time to be on my school’s cheerleading team and participate in school musicals. I also always try to find time to hang out with my friends. This usually means going to the movies, shopping at the mall or even just having a pool party. My friends are definitely a huge part of my life and spending time with them is very important to me.
Do you ever feel like you’re not having a normal childhood?
No, I definitely feel like I have a normal childhood. I go to a regular school, I am on a cheer team, I participate in all of my schools activities, I go to almost every football and basketball game and I spend time with my friends and family. I also have two incredible parents who support my acting career. We are a very close family and I am so blessed to have the family and life that I do.
People who are NOT in show business sometimes think that young performers grow up too fast. What are your thoughts on this?
Since my agents, manager, and parents work really hard to coordinate around my school activities (i.e., cheer, school musicals, etc.), and because I don’t really miss out on any extra-curricular activities, I can honestly say that I don’t feel like I’m growing up to fast. I get to go to school, be with my friends, do cheerleading, participate in my school’s musicals, have sleepovers, go to birthday parties, and just hang out. I definitely don’t think I am growing up to fast.
At what point did you join the union SAG-AFTRA? What does the union do for you?
I believe I joined as soon as I got my first audition, and that was when I was seven years old. Being a SAG-AFTRA member is very important because they are advocates for child actors like me. They make sure I’m safe on set and that I’m paid equally, and if I needed it, they have health benefits for me.
Have you missed events that you’ve wanted to attend due to work? Do you regret missing the events?
Unfortunately I have had to miss some events, but I’m ok with that. Yes, it is upsetting to miss out on things but that’s the price of acting. Also, in return of missing an event, I got to work on a show, which not a lot of people get to say they do. I have had many opportunities that other people don’t have, so I could say that I don’t regret missing out on any events.
Who accompanies you to your auditions and work?
My mom drives me to most of my auditions and takes me to work. But sometimes when my dad is in town, and not traveling for work, he’ll take me.
Have you ever had to travel outside of California for work?
The only time I had to travel for work was when I shot a commercial, and it was being shot in Palm Springs, CA. That was a lot of fun; it was like doing a road trip with my mom. Production was amazing; they paid for our hotel and food. I would love to be able to work outside of California or outside of the United States someday. I think that would be a lot of fun! I love the adventure of traveling, so filming somewhere else would be an awesome opportunity.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable on a set?
I can honestly say in my seven years of acting, I have never felt uncomfortable or was asked to do something out of my comfort zone. Every set that I’ve worked on has been extremely nice to me and has truly made sure my safety was a priority.
What TV shows and movies do you enjoy?
I usually watch a lot of Netflix… and I mean A LOT. I honestly watch a really wide variety of shows, ranging from comedies like Modern Family to shows like Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl and even the Walking Dead. My favorite movie is Pitch Perfect (1 and 2) and I just recently saw in the theater Tomorrowland and San Andreas.
What’s your technique for learning your lines?
When I get new lines, I typically print them off, highlight them, and then make notations about how to play each role based on what is going on in the scene and how my character is feeling. Then once I’m done with that, I like to go in my bedroom and read them over and work on the emotion. Afterwards, I ask my parents to go over my sides with me which helps me practice saying them to another person.
Have you ever had a chemistry test before booking a role?
Yes I have had a couple of chemistry test before booking a role. One chemistry test I had to do was when I played Norah in the independent film Caterpillar’s Kimono. They brought in the actor who was going to play my dad, Joey Kern, and we read our lines together. We hit it off right away, and it was a lot of fun to have that experience.
What do you think about social networking at your age?
I think social networking at my age is very important. That is how I communicate with all of my friends, as well as how I can connect with my fans. I think social networking is a great way to express yourself and what you are doing, as long as you’re safe. I also think social networking is important for my career because our industry is moving in that direction. With more online magazines, and submitting auditions by tape, it clearly is showing how things are moving for the future.
Have you ever been to NY?
Yes I’ve been to NY, and I LOVED IT! I loved the people, the excitement of the city, the parks and restaurants, just everything. I was able to go to NY for the premiere of the independent film I was in, “Caterpillar’s Kimono.” My parents and I had so much fun. We went and saw everything, and I mean everything. I was able to visit NYU, Greenwich Village, Central Park, Smithsonian museum, shopped at FAO Schwarz, went to the top of the Empire State Building, walked Times Square, rode the subway and ate at lots of amazing restaurants. My favorite part was being able to walk to a little coffee shop and grab something to eat at 3am in the morning; NY is just such an incredible city.
You’ve done a bunch of commercials. How does the casting process for commercials differ from TV/film?
Commercials are a much quicker process when auditioning. You typically only have a couple of lines, so you usually receive them when you arrive for your first audition. They usually take you in a group, so you’re watching others do their audition. That doesn’t happen when you do TV/film, where the casting director takes you back separately. Usually there is a callback for commercials, but most of the time it is really quick and just another opportunity for the casting directors to narrow down who they would like to play the role.
What other interests do you have?
I love to hang out with my family and friends when I am not working. Usually I go to the movies, shopping or to the beach with my friends. I’m also a part of a competitive cheer team through my school so we practice and condition almost every day. My friends are definitely a huge part of my life and spending time with them is very important to me.
What advice do you have for young performers?
The best advice I have for a young performer is not to give up on yourself, and surround yourself with people who love and support you. Acting can be hard work, especially since you can go out on audition after audition, and not book any of them. It can be very frustrating, but the best advice I received was to stick with it, because my time will come. I’d tell them to not give up on themselves, and push through because hard work pays off.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I would just like to tell everyone to go check out the new Netflix show Wet Hot American Sumer: First Day of Camp!! It is absolutely hilarious and you definitely don’t want to miss out on watching it!
What would you like to say to the editor and fans?
I would like to thank NYCastings for interviewing me and I would like to thank the fans for taking the time to check this interview out!
11 year-old GABE EGGERLING plays Bailey Burke in Amazon’s new pilot series The Kicks and is a voice on Disney Channel’s Sofia the First. Official Website The Kicks
Give us the rundown on your character Bailey Burke and how you got the role.
The Kicks is a family show on Amazon about soccer and girl power. One of the coolest parts for me, is that it is based on the best-selling book series by World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist, Alex Morgan!
I play Bailey Burke, the “techy” younger brother of Devin, who is a soccer star. It’s a great role for me because I love natural comedy, and the writer, David Babcock wrote in some great comedic lines for me. Bailey is intelligent, relaxed, and loves to tease his sister; but in the end is supportive. The casting process went quick on this one, and when shooting the pilot, I found out that my character on the show was changed from a little sister in the book series.
When did you join SAG-AFTRA?
I was seven years old when I joined the union. For almost a year I worked regularly on skits with Conan O’Brien at Warner Bros.
You’ve also done voice over work for Disney Channel’s Sofia the First. What is the audition for a voice over? Where did you do the recording? Did you memorize your lines or read off a board? Were other actors in the recording booth with you?
After I receive an audition, I take my copy into the recording booth at my agency and record with the engineer. I was really excited about the Sofia the First character, Fluke, so I recorded it with my voiceover coach in his booth. Most voiceovers I record are one on one with an engineer or director. When I worked on Sofia the First, it was in an amazing studio with a team of people. There was even an animator in the room! It was the best experience I’ve ever had, and I feel very lucky to have worked with such talented people!
You went to private school. Do you still attend Montessori? How does your schooling work with your busy schedule?
I feel very lucky to have a Montessori education. It’s a huge part of who I am. The school is like a family and teaches you to be independent, love learning and that kid’s ideas are worthy of attention. I still hang out with my friends and teachers from Montessori. Now I go to school through an online program that gives me the flexibility to balance lessons and acting, but it’s great because I still have teachers, classmates and fun field trips.
You played Otis on an episode of Sam & Cat. Tell us an on-set story from that show.
The episode “BrainCrush” was so much fun! There was a flame thrower juggling wigs on fire that performed in front of me during a scene at my birthday party. Otis was not interested at all…totally involved in his game, but it was tough not to look up at the flaming wigs flying in the air during the scene! It was also pretty funny to watch Jennette McCurdy demolish a line of birthday cakes. I think we did that take four times.
Share a story about your time on The Kicks that you haven’t told anyone publically.
There was a lot of build up with my TV family about the “big and wide burger” in the pilot episode…and we love burgers. It was my first experience with food on set, and I didn’t realize why there is a spit-bucket. After several takes and cold burgers, we all completely understood.
Gabe is a member of Mensa and also a kid Philanthropist.
You’re a kid Philanthropist. What exactly does that mean?
To me, it means a young person who likes to help people. I remember watching superheroes do amazing things on TV, but when I realized that I could make a difference myself, I felt like I had my own super powers.
What technique do you use to learn your lines?
I enjoy researching material about the character, the show I’m auditioning for, or anything that will put me in the right mood to think like the character. I also sketch mood drawings on my scripts…I’m terrible at drawing…but it helps because I’m very visual. My first acting coach insisted I do this before she would even talk to me about the script.
What hobbies do you enjoy that the public doesn’t know about?
Well, I’m a BIG gamer. I love Wii U (Mario games are the best) and I also love games like Minecraft and World of Warcraft on my computer. I’m actually thinking of starting a Twitch, so keep a lookout for that!
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