Child acting is realm completely different from most in the performing arts industry. There are different laws, regulations and expectations when working with children rather than adults.
Acting as a child can be an extremely rewarding experience, I know, I started acting at the age of ten, but to be rewarding it has to be fun.
We have all heard the horror stories of child actors growing up to fall into obscurity or never work as an adult because the transition was too tough. But for most children, it is an avenue to express themselves creatively.
There are many avenues a child can take to become an actor. Those include, commercials, TV, Movies, Theater, YouTube. Keep in mind that all of these range from the local level all the way up to Hollywood and Broadway.
Most likely if you are reading this article you are in fact a parent, and not a child, looking for ways to improve your child’s resume. But if you are a kid – kudos to you for taking a professional step!
So, If you are a child or the parent of a child that is truly interested in venturing into acting, there are many great ways to get started and to maintain the child’s interests in the process.
Rules & Regulations
When submitting resumes for acting you will want to pay attention to the location of the job, if it is paid, non-paid, credit will be given, and if it is union or non-union.
SAG is the Screen Actors Guild for movies and television and Actors Equity is the union for theatrical actors.
There is a catch-22 to earn your union card, you have to be in union productions, but typically you can’t audition for union productions without your union card… fun isn’t it?
This is where speaking with an agent or professionals in the business can help you work through the loop holes.
If you are hired you want to ensure that labor laws are being followed. When it comes to films children can only work 4 hours a day and have limited hours during the school year.
Kids on Broadway cannot perform two shows in one day, and if it is a physically demanding role, like Billy Elliott or Annie, they will usually have two or three children rotating the role throughout the week.
Parents must be on set or at rehearsals, and if you have a director that is telling you, you don’t need to be there. Take your kid and leave.
When protocols and rules are followed, most children report, despite the hard work, really enjoying the experience.
Resume heading for a child actor
Acting resumes for both children and adults look different than your standard job resume. For example you won’t have an objective towards the top. Instead, you’ll have a heading detailing your appearance.
It sounds a little harsh at first, but when you think about it, directors and producers are often looking for a certain age, demographic, appearance to fit a specific role.
If they need someone who can play ages 9-11 and needs to be hispanic because the story is set in Mexico, no matter how talented you are, if you are with red hair, you’re the wrong demographic for this job.
There are many jobs, however, that will simply read “needed: children ages 8-13, all genders and races”. It is important to pay attention to the casting call specifics to ensure you are not applying for jobs outside your child’s ability to represent.
Homeschooled Age: 11
Tricia Michaels (Parent)
Height: 4’ 6”
Weight: 75 lbs
Cell Phone (410) 260 – 3341
Hair: Dark Brown
Resume skills for a child actor
Skills on an acting resume are typically in a section titled “Special Skills”. After reading through several sources, there is debate on whether this section should be at the top of the resume or posted after work experience.
According to Kid’s Top Hollywood Acting Coach this section should be at the bottom, and the majority of the other sources agree this section should be the last thing on your resume.
An exception would be if the casting call was looking for a specific skill, someone who can play the trombone, or who is skilled in gymnastics, and you possess that talent.
In that case you may wish to post it at the top to highlight you have this needed skill.
Traditional things that go into the special skills section will be musical instruments (including singing), dance skills, sports skills, languages, dialects, juggling, impersonations, etc. If it is a skill – add it here!
But wait, that’s not all folks! According to dozens of resources we read, including Bay Area Children’s Musical Theater, we saw that many recommend children listing their hobbies as well, particularly if they do not have much experience yet.
This could include interests such as cooking, horseback riding, fashion, caring for animals. It is also recommended you include some personal traits as well such as, quick to memorize lines, cooperative, outgoing, and friendly.
Tap & Jazz | Skate boarding | Clarinet | Piano | Karate | Designing clothes | Adventurous | Team Player
Child actor work experience
Just like the objective section on an acting resume is different so is the work experience.
Unless you have worked on a sit-com for several seasons, performed in a long running theatrical production, or played a occurring character in a series of commercials your jobs will be spaced out and relatively short.
This is common in acting and most people’s both child and adult are dotted with various types and levels of experience.
After reviewing dozens of child acting resumes, it is considered best practice to break your work experience up by type instead of chronologically.
Film work would be in one section, theater, TV and commercials each with their own section. On the left you write the project or production, the middle the part you played and on the far right the production company or theater.
Because many broadway and national tours have had more than one version of many productions, you may wish to add the year.
For commercials it is typically recommended that you simply list commercial conflicts available upon request. That way if there are any product conflicts the casting agent can look at that later.
Sample Work Experience
Descendants 2 – Extra/Dancer – Disney Channel Original Productions
Life is Ruff – Extra – Disney Channel Original Productions
Princess Program – Young Princess – Disney Channel Original Productions
Odd Squad – Molly, Episodes 12, 27, 43, 61 – Nickelodeon
Ghostwriter Series – Regular – AppleTV
Annie – Annie – Mt. Mary Regional Theater
Shrek – Young Fiona – Dutch Apple Theater
Jane Eyre – Orphan – Dutch Apple Theater
Music Man – Ensemble – National Tour, 2015
Child actor education
Education for a child actor could be wide and varied, or they may have no formal education at all!
There are acting camps, training programs, and acting instructors. You may study at several different places or you may progress through an acting school for the majority of your youth.
There is no right or wrong way to become educated as a child actor.
This is also where you would list your vocal or instrumental coach, dance studios or private instructors.
New Children’s Theater & School
Drama Club A & B, 2013
Musical Theater a & B, 2014
KD Conservator, College of Film and Dramatic Arts
Acting for Stage and Camera, 2015
Teen Advanced Television Commercial Workshop, 2015
Children’s Acting Academy
Broadway Dance, 2015
The Maryland Academy of Dance
Complete child actor resume sample
Now that we have covered the key points that should be included on a child actor’s resume we are going to take a look at one for professional theatrical production
If you look closely at this casting call, you will note that they specifically want actors from the D.C. Metro area.
While that doesn’t have to be a deal breaker and stop you from submitting your resume, you may not want to focus on an audition that is looking for regional actors if you live outside the area.
You will notice the age ranges for both Mary and Colin are fairly broad, and they are asking for people of all ethnicities to audition, so that leaves the door fairly wide open.
This is both a union and non-union gig, so if you have your Actor’s Equity card (union for professional theatrical actors), you will need to get special permission to participate as this is a non-union production.
Actors Equity Card
Homeschooled Age: 15
Anthony Rose (Parent) Height: 4’ 8”
ElizabethRose@yahoo.com Weight: 82 lbs
Cell Phone (202) 450 – 6684 Eyes: Brown
Hair: Dark Blond
Matilda – Matilda – National Tour, 2017-18
School of Rock – Marcy – Broadway, 2016-2017
Annie – Molly – National Tour, 2014-15
Annie – Molly – Broadway, 2013-14
Bunk’d – Guest Star – Disney Channel, 2014
The Evermoor Chronicles – Guest Star Disney – Channel, 2013
The Nutcracker – Dancer – Disney Films, 2018
Descendants 3 – Dancer – Disney Films, 2019
Commercial Conflicts Available Upon Request
The Barrow Group
Explorations in Acting, 2006
Performance Ensemble, 2007
Theater Performance & Production 2008
Musical Theater Intensive, 2013
Atlantic Acting School
Teen Conservatory, 2017
Teen Conservatory II, 2018
Maryland School of Dance
Singing | Tap | Ballet | Ballroom | Piano | Guitar | Roller Skating | Quick Memorization | Work well with other children | Take Direction Well
Being a child actor at a professional level is a major commitment for both the child and the parent. But if it is something you or your child has a natural talent and passion for, then it can become a rewarding challenge.
Just like acting at the adult level, most children will not make it to Browady or become major stars, but that does not mean they can’t make decent money or make a living out of it should they take that path.
The more experience you have, the stronger your skills will be. Start small and work your way big.
- Keep your chin up, it can be hard path, especially at first
- Hone your skills in classes, hobbies and life experience
- Double check to ensure productions are following laws and regulations
Tips from Experts
“A lot of people try to paint this child actor stigma, but I always looked at it as a great opportunity.“ – Zachery Ty Bryan, Former Child Actor & Film Producer
“If I can make a career for myself after Harry Potter, and it goes well and is varied and with longevity, then that puts to bed the ‘child actors argument” – Daniel Radcliffe, Actor
“I try to keep away from being big-headed. That’s what causes people to lose the acting thing. They start being commercial, and then they stink the rest of their life. But there are several respected adult actors who were child actors that started very young. I’m going to try to model myself after Kurt Russell and Jodie Foster. Just keep learning from the role and not just go for the money.” – Haley Joel Osment, Actor
Now that you know the ins and outs of creating a stellar child acting resume, it’s time to gain more experience. The most important thing to remember is that overall this should be a fun career for a child.
So, if you or your child are ready to take the plunge, enjoy the adventure and remember to bring the fun!