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The Best way to help your Child Actor

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Inevitably you will get a commercial audition at the most inconvenient time, in the farthest location from where you live, during heavy Los Angeles traffic. But because over 2500 actors are submitted for each role, and you were lucky enough to get your children picked, you should happily make the audition, even if that means changing your child's dentist appointment, rescheduling your own hair appointment, or even skipping the karate class they are enrolled in.

Give yourself a leg up and always have an extra set of clothes in the car. Shoes, tights, shirts, sweatshirts.. whatever is a good standard outfit for your child. Also hair ties, brushes,  anything you need to make the necessary quick adjustments and not drive home.  Also have snacks in the car... ALWAYS! Bars, Nuts, Juice boxes, fruit snacks.. so your child isn’t hungry when they arrive.

It is important to help your child understand the spot, and their function in it. Help them with any words they do not know how to pronounce or understand. But that is where your assistance should end.

IT IS CRITICAL YOU NEVER TELL OR SHOW THEM HOW TO SAY THE WORDS, OR GIVE THEM ANY GESTURES TO DO WHILE SAYING IT! DO NOT COACH YOUR KIDS!  Let them sound natural like a kid.. DO NOT TELL THEM TO SMILE ON CERTAIN WORDS.

You are hurting them more than you will know.  Casting directors can tell instantly that a kid has been coached poorly and then it is very difficult to direct them to read naturally.  

Your job is to get them to the audition on time,  keep them in a good mood, feed them, support them and drive them home safely.  That is very, very helpful and appreciated.

If your kids are over a certain age, that’s where techniques can help them without locking them into a rigid recital for the casting director. Here are a few technique suggestions for your kids over 8 years old.

Paraphrase: Put the scene in your own words. Make it your own and know exactly what it is you're doing in this place. This is an excellent way to memorize the lines as they will make much more sense to you if you make this a regular practice.  In addition you will refrain from being selly. The tone of commercials nowadays is very filmic and often times the product is not even uttered by you or anyone in the scene. It may be voiced over at the end. SO NEVER NEVER NEVER SELL.  That is not your job. That is the advertisers job. You are to play the scene and work to get what you want from the person you're talking to.

Personalize:  This is where you can add your own experience as it fits in with the confines of the scene. You always want to work within the framework of the scene you are given and  Put your own spin on it or infuse a  little hint of your personality in the scene. This is very important because it is your audition and your job is to lift  the copy from the page and make it come alive. The way to do this is make personal everything you are talking about. Pick someone from your life to talk to. I have a list of 5-7 people who I talk to on a regular basis and I use them and put them in the camera. I actually cast the person I am talking to or about so I have a clear picture of who is in the scene with me. They should be real people in your life, not made up people. For kids most of the time they are talking to their mom, dad or siblings. If they do not have siblings they can use a cousin or good friend Talk to them and see how the scene becomes more real for you.  In addition to this work, know how you feel about everything you talking about.

Practice: Get the words out of your mouth prior to going in the room. You do not want the first time these words come out of your mouth to be on your first take… DISASTER! Find a corner, or go outside or in the bathroom and say them in full volume. The words sound different vocalized than they do up in your head..

And once you get in the room ASK FOR A REHEARSAL or look at the cue card and do a quick take out loud while the session director is finding your name on the call sheet. It is like a free take and you might even get some notes from the session director too!

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When you are done, say thanks and leave upbeat.

Parents should ask only one question when your kid comes out of the audition room...

Are you all done? or  Did you have fun?

That is it.... gather their things and sign out and go on to your next appointment.

Or treat them with a visit to the local eatery.

DO NOT ASK THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS as they put undo pressure on your young actor and they are unable to answer it and will sense they did something wrong.. and will carry that into the next auditions.

  1. How did you do?
  2. How did it go?
  3. What did they ask you do?
  4. Did they like you?
  5. Refrain from saying.. lets hope you get this one.. or hope you get a callback.. etc... Keep your kids pressure free.

As parents of a young actor you have to accept that you will never be privy to what happens in the audition room. That is why they should be in class where they can get proper training from a professional.

The only time you will see your child work is on the set. That is your only opportunity to see them in action. And then again there you are the parent. They have a director, a teacher and a studio rep to make sure they are not being worked improperly under the child labor laws.

For more info on Child actors, classes or coaching call Keep it Real Acting (818)901-8606 or email keepitreal@keepitrealacting.com


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Judy Kain has been a professional actress now for 37 years, showcasing her skills and talents in over 350 commercials and in over 80 roles for film and television.  

Some of her more well-known credits include a Television Series Regular on The Jackie Thomas Show and a Recurring role on the Emmy-winning show Mad Men, a role which won her a SAG Award.  Her other favorite recurring credits include Married with Children, For Your Love, Grosse Pointe, and Manhattan, AZ with Chad Everett.  She has done numerous guest appearances on the hit shows Modern Family, The Middle, Bones, Castle, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, ER, Seinfeld, The District, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Friends, and The Drew Carey Show just to name a few.   Her teaching career has also lead to immense success, being voted BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE ON-CAMERA COMMERCIAL TEACHER IN LA in 2010 and 2011.  Her other acting classes have won BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE IN LA as well, and continue to produce amazing results for her students. She teaches Advanced Callback, Commercial A to Z and Commercial Wednesday Workouts.

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Is Acting right for my child?

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"YOUR CHILD IS SO CUTE! THEY SHOULD BE ON TV!"How many times have parents heard that?  As an actress and acting coach, many parents ask me about how to get their kids started in the business, oftentimes because they’ve been told their child is cute!

My first thought is, has the child expressed an interest in wanting to act?  If the answer is yes, then get them into a good on-camera acting class.   It’s no different than if your child was interested in dancing, gymnastics or playing a sport.  You’d enroll them in a sports league or class, right?  Do the same for a child who wants to act.

Like many things kids try, some will love acting and others will decide they’d rather be on the playground, or WATCHING TV rather than being ON TV.  But if they love it, having taken a class will give them the beginning tools and confidence they need to walk into an audition room knowing what to expect.  THAT can make a huge difference in which cute child gets the job.


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Donna Rusch Kids Classes

Donna has more than 20 years experience as a professional actress and broadcaster.  She is a former TV News Anchor and Television Show Host and has been seen in more than 100 commercials and Industrial films, most recently for clients such as Sara Lee, Suave, Curves, Farmers and Merchants Bank of California and Reliant Energy.  Donna can be seen in the Ben Affleck thriller Gone Girl” and has a lead role in “The Periphery” now winning awards at film festivals.  Recent television credits include Criminal Minds, Revenge and the new ABC series “How to Get Away With Murder”.

Donna has extensive experience working as an acting coach for kids and teens.  She says “I so enjoy my career and find it both a thrill and privilege to mentor the next generation as they reach for their dreams. “


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The Difference Between Commercial & Theatrical Auditions

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A few years ago, a friend of mine I will call Ted approached me about getting into commercials. I was somewhat surprised, since he had previously told me that he was a “serious” actor, and would not even consider doing commercials. Which was too bad because he had a great look.

I referred him to a commercial agency that signed him, and soon he was on the audition trail. He was in on several sessions I directed, so I was able to see his work.

After a few months, he came to see me, asking why I thought he wasn’t booking spots. “I don’t get it,” he said, “I’m not even getting callbacks.” “What do you do to prepare for your auditions?” I asked. “Prepare?” Ted said, incredulously, “For a commercial audition?” “What kind of training have you gotten?” I asked. “Training? For commercials?” he responded.

I knew what his problem was from watching his auditions. He still believed himself too good to act in commercials, and so didn’t take the audition process seriously. He did not treat his commercial auditions with the same respect he had for theatrical auditions. Consequently, he was always “on top of the material,” not creating a reality around the audition situation. So his auditions came off as arrogant and aloof.

A student asked me recently what was the difference between auditioning for commercials and theatrical productions. I said “Usually, the length of your sides.”

True, there is more technique involved in commercial auditions, eg: cheating to the camera, inventing a button, etc. But both come down to good acting—creating a credible character that an audience can relate to.

Of course, commercial actors should always be aware of the style of the product’s advertising. For instance, you don’t audition the same way for McDonald’s as for Bud Light. But the same is true in theatrical. You wouldn’t audition for “Sons of Anarchy” the same way as for “Modern Family.” The biggest difference is that with commercials, the hardest part is actually the audition. Once you’ve booked the spot, everything else is easy. Whereas for theatrical, once you’ve booked the role, your work has just begun.

Another thing to consider when thinking about commercial auditions is that there are a lot of very good actors out there booking commercials. They know what they’re doing and how to audition well. They are your competition. Every time you audition you are going up against them and they take it seriously.

Remember, you’re an actor and auditions are precious. Honor your craft by giving them the attention necessary to make them credible.


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Doug Traer Commercial Wednesday Workout, Kids Commercial Class Doug has been working in film, television, theatre, and commercials for the past 26 years.  His film credits include Robert Miller’s Brenda Starr, the critically acclaimed Speak of the Devil and the black comedy Dead Giveaway.  He has had multiple roles on General Hospital, appeared in America’s Most Wanted and Saved by the Bell, among others.He has made a number of national TV commercials for products such as Mercedes-Benz, Sony Playstation, Sprint, Blue Cross Insurance, Baskin Robbins Ice Cream and Hardee’s Restaurants.

In addition to his acting gigs, he works as a commercial casting director and session director as well as teaching and providing career guidance to young actors or those just getting into the business.  He also directs theatrical and industrial video productions through his own independent production company.

Doug studied acting with master teacher Cliff Osmond for 15 years and improv with the LA Connection. He began teaching commercial classes 12 years ago and theatrical classes in 2003.  He has also taught in San Francisco, Chicago, Oakland, Phoenix and Santa Barbara and recently returned from Tokyo where he taught American acting to Japanese students.


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My Child is 4. Do they really need a Class?

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Really?  My child is 4…. Do they really need a class?

I used to say NO.. They are only 4… But then, I noticed that the same 10-20 kids book all the commercials in that age category. I talked to some session directors  and Casting Directors who said… “Some kids know what to do and some do not.  Kids who are confident book!”


NOW my answer is a resounding YES!!! On Camera Commercial class will help develop confidence in  the room for kids by the information gained in class.    . Practicing talking to the camera, Standing on the mark and knowing where to look seem like little things but they make a BIG difference in the audition room and especially at the callback.


A good, basic, fun but informative class is all 4-6 year old needs to give them a competitive edge. Those who are shyer may need to take it more than once to get them more comfortable. Overall it is a small time and financial commitment that can bring huge return on your investment.  And if they don’t become Dakota Fanning they will have learned some valuable skills to listen, play well with others, confidence and communication skills. Who cannot use that in life?

                                                                                                        - Charla

Charla Cochran
Charla Cochran is a youth teacher at Keep it Real Acting and has been teaching young children and teenagers for almost 20 years. She received her BFA in Theater Education from the University of Utah in 1995, where she served as Artistic Director for a touring program promoting child abuse prevention.  Charla relocated to the West Coast after directing her own youth theater company in Birmingham, AL, for 10 years.  She has a special gift for working with very young children and has nurtured and encouraged many young actors to find their creative voice. 

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