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How Does a Child “Get Discovered”?

If I had a dollar for every time I have been asked this question, I would be in Bali right now sipping a Mai Tai on the beach!

Wouldn’t it be great to “get discovered” while walking through the mall because an industry professional happens to notice your child and offers them a role in a major feature film or big print campaign? Or maybe your child can get discovered by doing a beauty pageant, online contest or just eating ice cream at the local ice cream parlor. Your chances are about as good of having this happen as winning the lottery. Does it happen? Yes, it happened for Spencer Breslin. But most of you might not live in NYC or LA where agents/casting directors/directors/producers are seen at the corner Starbuck’s. Even if you do, you might still never “accidently” run into someone who is looking for the next child star! Some people are lucky to know someone who knows someone and can give you a referral! And even if you who do live in major city, so does a lot other “competition”.
So while “being discovered,” does happen occasionally, most actors go through stages before making it big. Pursuing this industry means getting the best headshot possible. It means taking classes (acting, dance, singing, etc). It means YOU researching the industry in your specific geographical area so that you understand what you need and what you do not need! You must determine your stage – do you have a great headshot, work permit if needed), has your child taken classes, worked in local theatre and do you have representation? Then after you have done all the previously mentioned “steps”, you go on auditions and finally, book jobs. It takes time and an understanding to know what your focus should be at each step in the process. If you are just starting out, your focus should be on finding representation rather than finding auditions. Remember that there are lots of “not so nice” people lurking on the Web and it can be a dangerous submitting your child’s picture (with contact information) to strangers via the Web!

Today there are hundreds (if not more) casting sites boasting thousands of audition opportunities. Try to be realistic – if the casting site is advertising your child could be in the new Brad Pitt movie and you live in Butte, Montana (nothing wrong with Butte – I have been there and it is gorgeous), how are you going to get to LA (or NY) to audition for this movie? And what, there are not enough kids in LA (or NY) that have professional experience and big time agents that casting is looking in Butte? With claims like these it is easy to think that you do not need representation and that you can do it yourself! But if you’re submitting to these sites without luck, it may be because you’re simply focusing on the wrong step.

Why is your child not being “discovered” or getting auditions through casting sites? It could be because 1001 people are applying for 2 castings! It could also be that the Casting Directors are simply not drawn in by your online profile or headshot/resume. It could also be that the casting director did not post this casting (some sites “pirate” casting notices) and thus the casting director will not accept submissions from these sites.

Let me try to explain the process in easy to understand terms.

First the producer HIRES the casting director to cast his/her project.

Casting Directors then notify talent representatives (agents and managers) to the project and what kind of actors/models they want to see for the project. Casting depends on the talent representatives to ONLY submit actors who they believe are “right” for the part. Most casting directors use only the industry sites (Breakdown Service in all the major markets, LA Casting in LA and NOW Casting in LA and some other major markets). Casting directors also email and or call their “favorite” agents and managers with casting notices and do NOT put them out on any casting sites!

Generally, the casting director has a short amount of time to sort through all of headshots they receive (this is why your headshot is so important). It is not an exaggeration to say that for every role a casting director is looking for, he/she receives perhaps a thousand or more submissions! Casting will then select as many potential actors as they have time to audition but generally this number is well under 100 and sometimes it is only a handful of 20-30 people that get the chance to audition for cssting. From this first “call”, casting will narrow down the number to c a relative small number of actors to present to the director/producer/ad agency execs who will make the final hiring decision.

Now you can see how tough it is just to get an audition, let alone a book a job!

The question is, where does your child fall within the casting process? If you are currently without representation and are struggling to get work directly from casting websites, consider shifting your focus to finding representation rather than submitting to casting calls.

Actors with representation should consider themselves very lucky and wll on their way to working in this industry! ladder. Having representation is like wearing a badge that says “I’m a professional.” Why? Because a casting director/director/producer/ad agency knows that an agent or manager has already screened the child and that the child is likely to be good in front of the camera, respond well to direction and authority, has taken acting classes, has experience and/or great potential! This separates your child from the rest of the wanna be child stars.


  • young b | May 30, 2009

    hey was up im 12 years old and im like making my own songs i love making dances up i got one called the tweety bird any ways most of all i love singing my voice is extrodinary and i would love to be discovered in my note book i have over 45 songs written but give ne a chance

  • Shana | June 4, 2009

    I am 19 and would love to become an actress. I have a little bit of experience because i have been in plays with my drama youth club. I am a talented, dedicated and motivated in dividal who has been through alot and would like a break. I am willing to make as much money as i can for the person who would like to take mr under their wing. Please help me get discovered.

  • Kimberly Schembari | September 17, 2009

    how do i find a representative? We live in North Lake Tahoe!

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