By Bruce Edwin
Bruce Edwin is CEO of the A-list firm Starpower Management LLC, publisher of The Hollywood Sentinel, and motion picture producer. His services, based on his years of expertise and success in the music and film industry, are sought out and used by some of the most powerful companies and stars in entertainment. This ongoing article, a precursor to his upcoming book series, is his way of giving back to models, actors and bands, with education—that in its totality and with its unabashed honesty—cannot not be found anywhere else—free.
Movie star John Savage (pictured on this page), one of the finest actors of our time, has constantly been working from one film after another since starring in the legendary motion picture 'The Deer Hunter.' The reason for his success is twofold, one, he is a true gentleman—kind, humble, and thankful for and to all of those that he works with, and secondly, he is a consummate professional, and masterful actor, putting his very spirit into each role.
For those of you that have children, before you think about moving to Los Angeles with your kid to help them become a star, you need to think heavily about this, and ask yourself these questions and keep in mind the following things;
1, Does your child have good grades? If he or she is a poor student, don't even think about moving to L.A. or getting them started until they have at least a B average. In order to work in Hollywood, kids under 18 have to have a work permit, and these will not be authorized unless the child has good grades of at least a B average.
Home School: While home schooling is an option, if you do this, you need to know what you are doing, think of your child's future (most adults do not make a decent living in the entertainment industry, let alone kids). Can you really help their education? Do you have the time and knowledge and patience to invest into them to home school? Can your child benefit more from social development with other kids? If you do home school, make sure they actually do the work—not you—and also, make sure you give them a hobby or activity outside of Hollywood, that has nothing at all to do with the entertainment industry. They need this if they are to be more healthy.
2, Health: Are they healthy? If they have a disease or other serious medical condition, consider whether or not this is for them. Entertainers often need to be available on short notice and the hours can be long and tedious. Furthermore, for their work permit, they will need a good bill of health from a medical doctor indicating they are healthy enough to work and withstand the long hours and stress of being on set.
3, Rejection: Does your kid hate to be told no? Do they handle rejection with pouting, crying, tantrums, or major upset? If they can not handle rejection well, and you can not get them over this—forget it. Every person in showbiz gets rejected at some time or another—it just means they are not who the director wants for a certain job which is a matter of personal opinion and artistic preference that changes over time and from person to person. If they can't handle rejection by not taking it personally in a negative way, they will not have fun and neither will you, and if you and your child are not having fun in showbiz, there is no use in being in showbiz.
4, Talent: Are they a true talent? You may have been told or your child may have been told by many in your town or family how talented they are. This does not matter to Hollywood. Hollywood is the top of the game in terms of competition for talent, and Hollywood decides talent—not your family, not you, and not your local town or state you came from. Be honest with yourself. If your kid is not talented, you will find out soon enough in Hollywood, but then again, if they are, don't let naysayers in town stop them either. You must get the opinions of experts who are top agents, managers, and casting directors that make these decisions. If they have little or no talent, they have little to no chance of success unless they have the right look.
5, Looks: Do they look great? If your child is not very tall, and has no talent—you are fighting an uphill battle on a battle that is already uphill. And, if they are not cute to beautiful and are not talented—don't even bother moving here—it's not worth it. If they have no talent, they should be cute to beautiful, and tall. Further, teeth are very important. They should have good teeth. A lot of parents have asked me about braces over the years, and my answer to this is for print, it depends on the job, however most print modeling jobs want no braces, but for film or T.V., what matters most is that they can act and look great. As I have seen some kids that actually have tattoos in addition to piercings, it should not have to be stated here but it does, and that is that kids should not get tattoos and should not get any piercings other than one small hole in their ear. No gauges! The 90's are over!
The ideal: The ideal scenario for your child is for them to be super beautiful, very tall, and very talented, handle rejection well, get straight A's or close to this, and be in great health, with interests outside of Hollywood. If it sounds elitist, go figure, it is.
6, Plastic Surgery: Thinking of plastic surgery? Whatever you do, do not give your child plastic surgery. I know mothers who have talked about getting their young teen daughters breast augmentation. First of all, there is no such thing as breast augmentation. Augment means to add to or enhance or make something larger of that which is already there. Breasts are human flesh, blood, and tissue, and doctors can not create these things. They can only buy and use the human made collection of chemicals and other synthetic parts. Chemicals, plastics and rubbers are not breasts. If I have half of a pot of gold, and add a half of a pot of dirt, I do not have augmented gold that equals a full pot of gold. Instead, I have a half a pot of gold that is now dirty with half of a pot of dirt. Breast augmentations are a lie because they are not augmenting what is already there, instead, they are adding garbage to that which is real.
I have spoken with many women who have had 'boob jobs,' and many who have cried in my office telling me how they wish they had never gotten it done due to pain, complications, and other surgeries needed to correct nightmare scenarios. I have met parents whose graduation gift to their young daughter was a boob job. That is not a gift, it is sick, and a curse. Surgery is valid for actual diseases or broken bones—not a bigger bra size or an attempt at a better looking or younger looking face to get more parts. Aside from the health risk, boob jobs are generally cheap and fake looking. If a guy or a casting director does not like a woman for how her body normally is, then they are not worth dealing with anyway. Do NOT let your kids get plastic surgery, and do your best to talk them out of ever getting it. It is one of the many reasons why much of Hollywood is considered plastic, fake, ugly, stupid, and dangerous. Avoid it.
7, Want to leave them alone? No! Whatever you do, do NOT ever, ever, EVER leave your child who is under 18 alone with any one any where ever in the entertainment industry. I don't care if it's the biggest, most famous agent, studio, or director in the world. Do NOT leave your child alone for any interview, casting, audition, rehearsal, shoot, go see, open call, screening, gig, performance, job, or anything else ever. In case you haven't heard, Los Angeles is the porn capitol of the world, and further, as the second largest city in terms of population in the United States after New York City—has a high crime rate due to its size. Add to that its shared border with Mexico, and the lure of Hollywood where kids are desperate to be stars, and you have a volatile combination where kids can be abused, raped, kidnapped, and trafficked for sex, prostitution, labor, and pornography. This is a real problem, and it is up to you—the parent—to prevent it for your child by keeping them safe. And the number one way to do that is to not let them out of your sight—ever. If some big shot complains that this is not how it's done, that they are safe, and that you really can't be there, that other adults will watch after them, do not cave in. If it means grabbing your kid's hand and pulling them out the door and leaving—do it. Any industry professional who is a pro and has good ethics will have no problem with a Mom or Dad being present in the company of their child who is a minor.
One mother of a fourteen year old girl who was allegedly told by some so-called manager to move here to Hollywood with her, told me of another 'Stage Mom' who just moved to L.A. for her kid, who dropped her eleven year old daughter off at the mall with her young friend. She told me that the eleven year old called her Mom and said she did not need a ride home, that they met some nice boys and were getting a ride home with them. The mother let her do it. Are you insane lady?! Instead of schools forcing us to memorize meaningless things—many of which are based on patriarchal or ethnocentric lies—schools should teach young people things of real value, like how to make money, how to manage finances, how to start a business, how to have good character, how to be safe, how to start a successful family, and if having kids, how to be a sane, good parent. Do NOT leave your kid alone in the entertainment industry, and do not let them be chaperoned by strangers.
8, Paying for modeling school? Don't. It is not necessary to go to school to be a model. You will, most likely, however, have to invest in photos for your child to model.
9, Paying for acting classes? Don't be fooled by acting coaches that guarantee or promise auditions. It is not the job of an acting coach to do this. Their job is to teach acting, not broker deals or represent clients, though many may try to. If they state that they teach their own style, you may want to reconsider that. The foundation of acting is based on Stanislavski, and the other main method, Meisner, is derived from that. If you study most of the acting greats, you will find that most of them studied one of these two styles of acting. Why settle for something 'new and supposedly improved' that has no history of success based on hearsay or hype? Also, you can audit any class with your child. This simply means, you get the first class free with no obligation to check it out and see if it is right for them. Don't be fooled by most acting schools acting as if they are doing your child a favor to accept them, or that they have to audition to see if they are good enough. The truth is, there are many acting schools and coaches throughout Southern California. Some are good, a smaller few are great, and most are neither. And, they all need business. With that said, the true great schools or coaches, and there are only a small handful, may have a more elite entry level process. A top agent or manager can give you insight with regard to this.
10, Spending money on pictures? Do not spend money on shoots or printing until you already have an agent or manager for your child. I have seen many parents waste money on photos that they thought were good, or the acting coach liked. This does not matter. What matters is what the agent or manager likes and is willing to use. After all, they are the ones submitting the images, not you, not an acting school, and not your best friend who you may think is some great photographer but who we may think is actually terrible. You do not need professional photos to meet with an agent or manager that sees new faces (new clients). All you need a a recent snapshot of your child which you can shoot on your cell phone and print off on your computer at home. This is seriously all you need to do a meeting. When it comes to investing in photos after you get an agent or manager, the amount of money you spend should be somewhat proportionate to your child's age. For example, if your child is a baby or a toddler, you should not spend any amount of money on photos or prints, as the baby or toddler will grow very quickly and their look will change so rapidly each month, that the pictures will be outdated on a regular basis, which will waste your money. So for toddlers or babies who are growing rapidly, the legitimate industry will accept snapshots for submittals. After they get older, roughly at around eight or ten years old, you can consider investing a small amount in pictures and prints after you get advice from the agent or manager representing your child. Again, the younger they are, the less you should have to spend as their look will change dramatically each quarter or year. As a general rule, you should spend no more than 400 dollars on headshots, and no more than 100 on printing, but ideally, closer to 300 for headshots, with at least several looks (different outfits). The quality of the photographer's work is often reflective in their price. Generally, you get what you pay for.
For modeling, figure on doubling the cost of investment in photos, as they will need usually at least four more looks on the back of their card (zed card or also called a composite card, or comp card), and a portfolio book. Most agencies and managers do not pay for pictures for clients, contrary to what many misinformed models or actors hear, think, or say. At the very most, they may advance the cost of the shoot and prints and have an account for the client whereby their account is either in the red or the black. If they are in the red, then the next job they book, the client will have that amount of the shoot deducted from that job. Normally, only the biggest agencies do this, and the smaller or mid sized ones will require that the client pay for pictures on their own in advance. Don't assume that you can use images from a friend or family member who thinks they are a photographer. I have found that most people that call themselves a photographer that are not working at it full time, are really amateurs, and not very good. The images a model or talent agency or management firm uses reflect the image of the agency, and it is their choice as to what images they do or do not send out.
11, How do you know if an agent or manager is legit? For acting representation, the site called IMDB is useful to see if the company is listed and where they stand among their peers. With that said, data in IMDB is not always current, thought they try to be. For both industries; agency or management, if you don't already know their record of success, you can ask if they have copies of any checks of jobs they have gotten for their clients. Some may have these and may show you. I have seen the best agencies and firms in the world smeared online by worthless, criminal run sites whereby any loser, rejected model or actor, or dropped client can abuse and lie about them. Take such sites and comments lightly, and find out on your own. Keep in mind, the more accomplished a person is, the bigger target they are for haters and lunatics.
12, Fees? If you are worried about an agency or manager getting a referral fee from someone or something they suggest to you—forget about it. The top modeling agencies in the world were started by this practice. The point is, can they get your child work?
13, Should you sign a contract? You have the right to take any contract home with you and have a few days to look it over or have your attorney look it over before you sign it. With that said, it is also in the agents or managers right to decline your business at any point for many numbers of reasons, so be prepared for that. Most any contract can be gotten out of by a good attorney. The ideal is to get a non-exclusive contract unless it is a top agency or A-list management firm. It is advised not to sign an exclusive agreement with an agency unless you are certain they can get your child work and your child is already accomplished with a number of major credits.
14, What do they want? When I used to see kids at my firm, I dealt with many stage Moms and Dads who would answer every question for their child, and I would have to tell them to let the child speak for them self. Children usually know what they want and don't want. Ask them if they really want to be in this business. If they don't, do not pressure them. It's challenging enough to be in the entertainment industry, and to be a kid. Make sure they want it.
15, Is the job appropriate? There are some jobs in the industry for kids that actually are not appropriate for kids. Don't sell out your morals and values to the entertainment industry for fame and money. Stick true to your core principals, and what you believe and want for your child, and they may thank you for it when they get older.
16, Bait and switch; I have encountered a few production companies that were on the breakdowns, that ended up being very deceitful. They indicated one type of job, yet when the kid or young adult got there, it was entirely different, and very inappropriate. This normally does not happen, but the few times out of hundreds that is has, I make sure that my clients call me immediately, and they walk out. If you have a good agent or manager, they will not be weak when it comes to standing up for your rights or the rights of your child, and even calling their attorney for you if necessary.
17, Are you getting correct information? One of the biggest problems I have found in Hollywood for amateurs is that they either get no information, or incorrect information. For example, one parent I recently spoke with believed that banks would rip her off if she got a Coogan Account—which is needed for a minor working in the entertainment industry. That information is false. Now granted, banks often rip people off, but this has nothing to do with Coogan Accounts! Know where to get information. Be sure that the information you get is correct. Wrong information or no information can mean the difference between success and failure for you or your child, or at times, even worse.
To hear the latest radio interview with Bruce Edwin regarding Success In Hollywood, click here.
I hope this has helped many of you. If you have questions, you are invited to call my office for further free information, and free advice on How to Succeed in the entertainment industry, or any other question you may have.
Starpower Management; Tel / Fax: 310-226-7176
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