Understanding How Your Character Relates to Adults vs. Children

One of the most captivating elements of our art is the capacity to explore the inner workings of our characters and bring them to life in a manner that connects with various audiences. The way a character interacts with different generations can significantly influence their portrayal, infusing the storytelling process with intricacy and richness. Let’s delve into the dynamics of how your character engages with adults versus children, unraveling unique perspectives and offering guidance to enhance your performance.

The Power of Perception

Our characters’ interactions with adults and children are akin to two parallel universes; each perspective reveals unique facets of their personality. Adults, through their life experiences and accumulated wisdom, may interpret a character’s motives, actions, and emotions differently than children, who view the world through a lens of innocence and wonder. We must grasp these dissimilar viewpoints to portray our characters convincingly.

The Complexity of Adult Perception

To adults, characters are often seen through a lens of pragmatism and discernment. They can recognize subtleties in behavior and motivations that children may miss. An adult audience may empathize with the struggles and conflicts faced by the character, drawing parallels to their own life experiences. Moreover, they may relate to the emotional depth and complexity of the character’s journey, appreciating the nuances of their personality and the growth they undergo.

Actors should be mindful of delivering performances that tap into the authenticity of these emotions, allowing the character to resonate profoundly with adults. Adeptly conveying internal conflicts and moral dilemmas can evoke thought-provoking discussions among adult viewers, enriching their cinematic experience.

NYCastings-Understanding-How-Your-Character-Relates-to-Adults-vs-ChildrenThe Innocence of Children’s Perception

In contrast, children view characters through a lens of innocence, seeing them in a pure and instinctive way. They effortlessly understand and relate to the character’s emotions and intentions, fully immersing themselves in their world without the burden of life’s complications. Children admire the character’s courageous actions, sympathize with their challenges, and enthusiastically celebrate their victories.

Engaging with the child audience means embracing the pure-hearted, sincere aspects of your character. Capturing the essence of innocence and wonder in your performance enables young viewers to form lasting bonds with the character, making them a beloved figure in their imagination. Example: Peter Pan.

Embracing Duality: Finding Balance in Portrayal

The challenge for actors lies in harmonizing these distinct perceptions of the character into a cohesive portrayal. Striking a balance between catering to adult comprehension and evoking childlike fascination can elevate your performance to a transcendent level.

A key aspect of achieving this harmony is through layered storytelling. Develop your character with depth and complexity, allowing them to resonate with both adults and children on various levels. Focus on the subtleties of your character’s actions, words, and expressions, ensuring they can be interpreted through multiple lenses.

Emphasizing Universal Themes

While adult and child perspectives may differ, certain themes and emotions are universally relatable. Love, friendship, courage, and perseverance are examples of emotions that resonate across age groups. Emphasizing these universal themes in your portrayal allows your character to transcend the boundaries of age, touching the hearts of all who watch.

Adapting to Different Audiences

In live performances, actors can observe the audience’s reactions and adjust their approach accordingly. For instance, during a stage play, you might notice more laughter from children during comedic scenes, while adults might respond emotionally to poignant moments. Embracing and adapting to these audience responses can deepen the impact of your performance.

Staying True to Your Character’s Essence

While it’s important to consider the perspectives of different age groups, it’s equally crucial not to compromise the core essence of your character. Authenticity is the cornerstone of exceptional acting. Fully understanding your character’s background, motivations, and emotional journey will help you stay true to their portrayal while resonating with diverse audiences.


The character’s witty humor and clever wordplay may trigger laughter and amusement among adults. Their sophisticated understanding of language and wit leads to hearty chuckles and genuine appreciation. On the other hand, children may find joy in the character’s physical comedy and playful antics, creating moments of unrestrained laughter and infectious happiness. Your ability to adapt your performance to cater to both types of humor will ensure that your character leaves a lasting impression on audiences of all ages.

Vulnerability and Emotional Turmoil

Your character’s moments of vulnerability and emotional turmoil deeply affect adults, who empathize with the raw, authentic display of feelings. Their own experiences mirror those of the character, and they feel a genuine connection, experiencing the highs and lows alongside them. Children, in contrast, may find themselves emotionally invested in the character’s happiness or sadness. Your portrayal of emotional authenticity paves the way for children to explore and understand their feelings, fostering a meaningful connection between them and the character.

Courage and Determination

The character’s demonstration of courage and determination resonates with individuals of all ages. Grown-ups are impressed by the character’s ability to bounce back and draw inspiration from their courageous acts, while youngsters view them as a beacon of hope, believing that they too can exhibit strength and valor when confronted with difficulties. Embodying the character’s fearless essence enables you to deeply move audiences from various generations, leaving an indelible impression on their emotions and outlook on life.

Our ability to relate to both adults and children is a testament to the universality of storytelling. Characters take on multifaceted identities, captivating hearts and minds across generations. By comprehending the distinct ways in which adults and children perceive our characters, we can hone our craft, enrich our performances, and leave a lasting impact on audiences young and old. Embrace the duality of your character, find the common threads that unite us all, and let your performances be a bridge that connects generations through the magic of storytelling.

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