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By Mrs. Stuart Thesman
Susan Wentworth gently dries her daughters tears. "Sangria, we talked about this, what did we say?"
Sangria takes a brave sniff and raises her trembling chin "You said if I ate like a little piggy no one would love me and I would never get to be on TV."
Satisfied, Susan smiles and hands a fat free Nutribar to Sangria. She takes Sangria's hand and they leave the casting agent's office humbled by rejection.
"It's harder than it looks" admits casting agent Jenn Whitney Macran "Not only does the child have to have a certain oomph quality, he or she has to be intelligent, attractive, or if not attractive at least ugly in an interesting way, and it does not hurt to have talent".
Sound discouraging? Well statistically, the chances of your child being a major television star are a million to one, but there are many, many avenues for ambitious mothers to explore. If you're looking for second-hand gratification and a way for your child to earn money, acting may be just the way to go.
Photos and Representation: Have your child's photos taken by a professional photographer, if you don't know of a reputable photographer then check the classifieds of any big city daily. Look under the sections that start with "Earn Big Money Acting in Commercials" If your child meets the criteria that Jenn Whitney Macran stated above and you have $5,000, you are well on the road to stardom.
Pursue leads on your own. Don't just wait for your agent to do all the work, you have to do some legwork on your own. Enroll your child in beauty pageats, enter them in any contest that requires a photo and offer free modeling services.
A little known fact is that casting agents are known to roam malls in search of talent, so hang around the entrance to major department stores. Dressing your child up in theme clothing is a guaranteed attention getter for example: a pilgrim for Thanksgiving, a football for Superbowl. You are only limited by your imagination and by how much weight your child can carry on their head.
The Circus is often overlooked, but opportunities for travel abound.
Be aware that this is a full time job. No child ever made it to the big screen by eating Twinkies and rotting away in a classroom. If you are diligent you will be rewarded with more money than you ever dreamed and a precocious little moppet that anyone would be proud of!
To do so: Have your child stand in front of the mirror and smile naturally.
Carefully examine his/her face for flaws. Keep in mind that pudgy cheeks and missing teeth are 'gimmes' and not flaws.
Side Stepping The Coogan Law
This law requires that 15 percent of a child's earnings be put in trust until the child turns 18 but luckily the law doesn't extend to the 37 states without child labor law, so you may consider moving.
Acting as your child's manager will increase your earnings.
There is a wide interpretation of "due diligence" in handling finances.
It is not unethical to charge a child of 8 room and board. This is fair and even common in many countries around the world.
Mrs. Stuart Thesman is the author of The Art of Coupons and The Big Book of Coriander. Her new book Drier Nails in Seven Days is due out in September.
© Sharon Grehan-Howes