The Child Actor’s Guide to Financial Responsibility: Managing Bills and Expenses

This is show business, and just like any business, there are bills, expenses and financial responsibilities. From paying taxes to purchasing insurance, child actors have to plan ahead and be financially responsible in order to manage their earnings. Understanding what bills need to be paid is essential for these young performers.

I’m sure the last thing you want to think about when starting this adventure with your child is paying the bills. Well, it’s something that has to be done, so procrastination will not work.

If your child doesn’t already have a bank account, you’ll want to set one up right away. This can be done at any bank or credit union and is not to be confused with a Coogan account or Trust account. You can also read even more about the Coogan / Trust account here.

Many child actors choose to open up their work bank account at the Actors Federal Credit Union. Certain states require you to set up a Coogan or Trust account for your child, so there’s a convenience of having your child’s “regular” work bank account and the Coogan / Trust account held at the same bank or credit union.

Bills, Expenses and Financial Responsibilities

Learning about the business side of the entertainment field can be a daunting task for a child and their parents, but with proper planning and education, it’s possible to navigate the financial side of a child actor’s career successfully.

Below are some of the costs you will incur. As time goes on and your child gets deeper into the business, other expenses may pop up.

Training: Actors should take classes or workshops to hone their skills and stay up-to-date with industry trends. This can include classes in acting, dancing, singing, learning a musical instrument and learning a different language.

Tools of the photography trade. A professional photographer with his equipment.Headshots: High-quality headshots are a must for actors looking for work. These professional photos are typically taken by a photographer specializing in headshots for actors.

Agent and Manager Fees: You may choose to work with a talent agent, who will represent you and help find you work. Agents and managers typically charge a commission, which can be a percentage of your earnings.

Audition Expenses: You may need to travel to auditions, which can involve costs for transportation, lodging and meals.

Wardrobe and Costumes: You may need to purchase or rent costumes and wardrobe items for various roles. Not every job will provide this for you.

Reels and demo tapes: You’ll need to create reels and demo tapes to showcase your skills and attract casting directors.

Union Dues: If you’re a member of a union, such as SAG-AFTRA or Actors Equity Association, you’ll need to pay annual dues to maintain your membership.

Marketing and Promotion: You should invest in marketing and promotion to build your brand and get noticed by industry professionals.

Taxes: This can include federal, state and local taxes depending on where live. It’s important to keep track of all income earned so that your child’s tax returns are properly filed each year. Additionally, a financial planner or accountant may be needed in order to help your child file correctly and make sure nothing is missed when preparing their returns. The planner and accountant will charge you a fee.

Insurance: Another expense that needs to be kept in mind is insurance coverage for your child and any equipment used during filming or performances. Example: You may be asked to bring a bicycle or skateboard. What if those items get damaged on set?

Quick story: My children were doing a shoot in a park in New York City and were asked to bring backpacks (because they were playing school children who went to play in the park after school). So we just brought their regular school backpacks with all of their school books and homework (often times, when there’s downtime on set, you’ll see children doing their homework). We happened to be on a bathroom and food break when a PA (production assistant) decided to set up for a scene my kids were NOT in. When we returned from break, our backpacks were gone! We were very lucky in the fact that we were able to locate our backpacks, but if not, who would pay for the loss of our stuff? The production, you say? Good luck with that. Granted, backpacks are minor, but what if you’re asked to bring your expensive guitar or drum set?

The above are just a few of the many expenses that your child may need to incur in order to build and maintain a successful career. It’s important to budget for these expenses and manage their finances carefully in order to ensure long-term success.

Note: DirectSubmit NYCastings does not give financial advice. Please consult an accountant.

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