If your child is involved in the entertainment industry, whether in small-town theatre productions or movies and television shows, protecting their welfare is a top priority for parents. Here are ten simple steps you can do today to help protect your child from rabid fans and predators.
1. Stop using your child’s social security number on their resume.
It use to be commonplace to use a social security number on a resume so producers, directors and casting directors could refer to you as a number when you go in for an audition. This is no longer the case. When your child signs in for an audition, there will be a spot for their SAG number. If they are not in the Screen Actors Guild, leave the box empty or ask the receptionist if they can use another number.
2. Change your phone number.
Once your phone number is listed, it will remain in online directories and even print directories for a long time. Simply changing it to be unlisted will not stop people from finding it out and calling you at home. Obtain a new number and keep it unlisted.
3. Check your child’s fan mail carefully.
Once your child has appeared on a TV show or in a movie, they will start to get fan letters. While this may seem neat at first, you must be careful when allowing your child to read the letters that come in. Look over the envelopes carefully and notice strange addresses. Letters from prisons oftentimes are marked “Inmate Mail” or have a strange address that looks like a PO box.
4. Take your own digital cards to your photographer.
When it is time to get your child’s photographs done for their portfolio or comp card, ask if you can bring your own digital card for their camera. If the photographer still shoots on film, make sure that their session fee includes giving the negatives to you. By protecting the raw images of your child, you will help prevent their likeness from showing up on online auction sites tomorrow or in years to come.
5. Audit an acting class.
Instead of shelling out the full fee for an acting class you have heard about, ask the instructor if your child can audit their class. Most will say yes. You should be skeptical about those who will not allow your child, and a parent, to sit in on a class or two.
6. Don’t looks for agents in the mall.
If you get a flyer asking you to bring your child to the mall to meet with a talent manager, run the other way. Many of these companies make their money by charging outrageous fees for photographers and showcases. They thrive on signing hundreds of kids, hoping one of them happens to make it big.
7. Do your homework.
Never stop learning about the entertainment business. Read books on child actors, auditioning, acting technique, and biographies of former and current child stars. Attend workshops and seminars in your area.
8. Provide a support structure for your child.
During the course of your child’s career, they will turned down many times for different reasons. It is important to have both internal and external support mechanisms for your child to turn to when they need to talk or vent their frustrations.
9. Avoid leaving comments on fan web sites.
While at first it may seem neat when you see the first web site dedicated to your child, but avoid contacting the maker of the site or leaving feedback in a guestbook or forum. Your computer information can be tracked fairly easily, allowing them to get even more personal information.
10. Register your child’s name as a web site domain name.
As soon as your child books that new commercial, TV show or movie, register your child’s name as a “dot com” immediately so somebody cannot steal it out from under you. Registration services are under $10/year at most places, so it will be a cheap investment in your child’s safety.
Most of these items involve common sense, but you will be surprised how easily they are forgotten when your child has a chance at stardom. Keep your wits about you and remember your number one priority is the welfare of your child, not booking the part.
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