As a parent, obviously we only want the best for our children. So what do we do when they come at us with these fateful words? Here is a summing-up of questions I’ve been asked by parents over the years, and my considered answers.
Should my baby become an actor? - In short, no. There are too many wannabe actors in this world, and the more that I can discourage the better. (The reason I say this is not to be cruel, but saying this will weed out those who are completely serious and dedicated from those who aren’t fully committed).
Do they need to go to university? - University degrees are not the way into acting. No actor ever made it to the top because they had a degree -a degree just says that you can study, it doesn’t in any way say that you can act.
What about a combined degree? - Combined courses simply mean that you are studying a bit less of two things rather than the whole part of one thing. If someone was partly a doctor and partly a bin man, chances are you wouldn’t let him operate on you, would you?
Don’t they need something to fall back on? - Why on earth would you give someone the option to have another option? If you cannot fully commit to becoming an actor then don’t do it.
Is it hard to get an acting job? - In a word, yes, very! But take this as a sign that your child has what it takes - if they can get into an accredited drama school then they can make money from acting.
How will I know if they are good enough? - Unless you are an actor, director or agent yourself, then chances are you won’t. Anyway, as a parent your job is to support your offspring - help them get to their auditions, support them however you can, and if they make it into drama school then you will have your question answered.
What do I need my child to have in order to succeed? - They will need two main qualities - resilience and tenacity. Resilience to cope with the rejections and hardships they will face along the way, and tenacity to help them get what they want without giving up. Giving up and having a thin skin are two of the biggest hurdles that trip up the vast majority of wannabe actors.
If your child wants to become an actor, you should support them (actually, unless your child wants to be a serial killer you should support them in whatever they want to do). Yes, the road will be tough, and yes, they will have to work their socks off to get anywhere, but hopefully it will pay off and they will end up rich and famous and able to support you in your old age. All the interminable listening to lines will seem worth it then, I bet!
Mark Westbrook is the Principal at Acting Coach Scotland