Child Actors at any point in their careers might be asked to perform in a project with “edgy” or “controversial” elements that are out of the ordinary for them and potentially out of your family’s comfort zone. These storyline elements might include stunts, weapons work, foul language, prostitution, sexual situations, racial issues, horror, smoking, slavery, abduction, alcohol or drug use, nudity, incest, pregnancy/abortion, pedophilia, child abuse, political or religious issues, and even potential physical danger.
The list of potential scenarios goes on and on, and while it may sound extreme it’s a very real possibility one or more of these elements may be present in a film or TV role your child reads for. Using older examples so as to not point fingers at any current minor performers, think about Linda Blair in The Exorcist, Jody Foster’s character Iris in Taxi Driver, almost every movie Brooke Shield’s performed in before age 18 (Pretty Baby, Blue Lagoon, Endless Love), the elementary age cast of The Bad News Bears, the coming of age film Thirteen, the shoot’em up thriller The Professional, or even smaller roles that were extreme like the little girl who is horrifically brutalized, gang-raped and murdered in the opening scene of A Time to Kill.
Anne Henry and Paula Dorn of Child Actor Advocacy organization Biz Parentz have put together a white paper of sorts addressing these issues and the very personal decision you may one day be forced to make regarding whether to abandon a role or move forward with one on your child’s behalf.
Their 15 tips & guidelines will help you make the right decision for your child and your family. Some of our favorites are:
- Set Your Family Boundaries
- Communicate with Your Child’s Agents and Manager
- Read the Whole Script not just the sides
- Google all People Involved with Production
- Look for Red Flags
- BE EMPOWERED- Know That You CAN say NO