Having a child in the modeling industry can be both an exciting and, at times, a chaotic experience. And Lisa Pimber — whose son, Kaeden, was not only the first boy to have his face on every bottle of Downey on the shelves of Target, but was also featured in the Summer 2012 issue of Scottsdale Living magazine — has experienced it all, and shares a few tips on what it takes to be the parent of a child model.
child model parent tipsThe life of a parent with children in the entertainment industry can be both exciting and overwhelming. As for me, my son Kaeden was signed by a modeling agency at age three, and after just two months, he landed his first gig as the first boy to be pictured on the bottle of Downey.
Living in California at the time (about two years ago), we drove to auditions in Los Angeles, which is where the Downey audition was held. Kaeden wore, as requested, a light blue shirt and blue shorts, as did the 15 other boys who were selected to audition. Just a week later, we received the call that him and his dad would be flying to San Francisco for the photo shoot. We got the job!
child model, parent tipsAfter this photo shoot, Kaeden auditioned a minimum of once per week, with gigs ranging from commercials to retail stores. My husband became a full-time dad, taking Kaeden to all of his auditions and booked gigs. Take note: Because you aren’t notified of most auditions until the night before, one parent always needed to be ready and available on the drop of a dime. That was my husband, but he always enjoyed spending time with Kaeden. And, in between jobs and auditions, my husband would work with Kaeden on the alphabet, reading and vocabulary, and most importantly, manners.
child model, parent tipsKaeden’s baby sister, Hailey, came along and joined into the fun. Her first audition was when she was 11 months old for a Johnson & Johnson’s commercial. She did an amazing job, but because I refused to have her hair cut, as she only had a little to begin with, she didn’t get it. It’s my belief that if you don’t feel comfortable, you can say “no”; there are always other jobs. And, a few months later, Hailey booked Carter’s, a children’s clothing store.
Both children enjoy what they’re doing, modeling. Kaeden, now seven years old, has been in two commercials, on three Mattel toys, in one independent film, on two product labels, and on several in-store ads and Internet ads for retail stores and businesses. Hailey has been on a few clothing labels and several Internet promotions. We moved from California to Arizona about two years ago, and since then, it has been very difficult to attend all auditions due to the cost and time it takes to drive to L.A. with little to no notice.
My advice to anyone wanting to enter the talent/entertainment industry (especially child models) is to do your research first. I’ve also provided some tips below:
If an agency says they will take you, but you have to pay money upfront, do not sign. We have never had to pay a cent for our agent in California.
However, you will need to pay for your own photo sheets, composite cards and zed cards, which are basically a compilation of a few photos to take to and leave at an audition ― much like a business card or headshot. These photos are extremely important, and you should always be prepared to pay between $150-$300 a session for three to five looks. Keep in mind that you must update your comp. cards every six months; babies need to update them more often as they grow and change quickly.
Be willing to travel on a day’s notice for an audition that can take as little as three to four minutes. There have been times when we would leave Phoenix at 5 a.m. and get home at midnight for Kaeden to be at school at 8 a.m. that morning.
You cannot pick and choose the auditions. You must commit 110 percent to each and every audition or your agent may not submit you for work.
Know the children labor laws as there are several laws for working on set. For instance, if you work in California, you will need to apply for a Coogan account for your child. This means that some of his/her earning will be deposited and blocked until they reach the age of 18. This must be renewed every six months. You can find this information on the California Department of Public Relations’ Web page.
We believe education is our children’s No. 1 priority, so be sure you speak with your child’s school to arrange how they can get their assignments turned in when they can’t make it to class. When our Kaeden is absent from school, which is often, we always get homework from the teachers for him to complete so he doesn’t fall behind. And with a teacher always present on set to help the kids with their homework, Kaeden has even received Honor Roll Student of the Year at his school for all four quarters, which has made us so proud! With Hailey in preschool, her dad makes sure she knows her numbers and alphabet; this year, he plans to have her reading before she starts kindergarten.
If your child makes more than $400 a year, they must file taxes. It’s best to keep all receipts and expenses documented, just in case they need to file taxes. Kaeden has filed taxes since he was three years old, and both kids are saving their hard-earned money for school. Kaeden even has his first year of college paid for from his paychecks.
While the industry seems like a lot of fun, there’s a lot of work involved for the child ― and even more so for the parents. People always ask us, “Why do you do it? Why do you spend money to travel to auditions?” It’s all about supporting my children in whatever they want to do, whether that is to be become movie stars or models. Education will always be their No. 1 priority, but we plan on giving our children every opportunity they deserve. We will be right there to support them with whatever they decide to do outside of school, and if one day they decide they don’t want to model anymore, than we will stop and move to something else they would like to learn.
Good luck, and one last tip? Never take it to heart. If you don’t get a job, there will always be another audition and another gig. Just have fun, and enjoy yourself.