The fake cry. Every parent has heard it and knows in an instant when their child is pretending. I would say the same is true for good casting directors. They can spot a young actor pretending to feel something they don’t.
Good actors communicate real emotions, not pretend ones. When a young actor plays a scene showing—but not connecting—to the emotional life of the character, he is often doing what we call “indicating.” Here are some telltale signs of “indicating” that you want your young actor to avoid.
1. Fake emoting. Crying on cue may come naturally for some, but for many young actors, producing real emotion is an acquired skill. It’s not the real tears that are of concern—that is what glycerin drops are for. Rather, it is finding and applying the honest emotional life of the character. Next time, encourage your child to recall a time in their life that may have made them sad, lonely, or angry. The use of imagination can be another powerful way to create a truthful circumstance. If the character is reacting to their parents divorce, how would the young actor feel if their parents actually divorced? This is a hard skill to master. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to learn. Most young actors benefit from a trained acting coach or acting class to learn the necessary skills and let go of fake emoting habits.