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My Child’s Experience On A Commercial Set

My Child’s Experience On A Commercial Set

photo of man holding camera

For those of you that follow my personal account you would have noticed I have gotten into acting professionally. I’ve grown up wanting to be an actor since the age of 6. Basically the moment I started watching Full House, I wanted nothing more than to be a child actor.

My mom warned me that this was a bad idea. She believed that child actors had horrible lives and that putting me into an acting career could ruin my life. And truly when we see child actors that are adults today we see the truth of how messed up their lives were behind the camera.

I personally have thought about the possibility of my kids being on TV, because I remember how genuine my desire was to be on TV as a child. I didn’t want to completely rule out having my kids on TV solely on the basis of what my mom believed about child actors and those few that have led messy lives afterwards.

I never went out of my way to get my kids an agent and into auditions. It just so happened that at the point that I got an agent, casting directors were looking for real families to be on screen. This was because of the pandemic and the need for everyone to remain in their bubbles even while on screen. Because of this, my family and I (husband included) got submitted for a lot of roles where the kids were the leads.

Auditions with my kids was not a lot of fun to be honest. We’ve always done self-tapes  because of the pandemic. A self tape is basically us filming ourselves in the style the director wants to see the audition. We have to follow their instructions from the way the camera is angled to the way the video is edited and then submit online.

I have a self tape set up in my office with a painted back ground, lighting and camera stand. My kids see this area and think of it as the spot to film a YouTube video. They will even bring boxes to that area and pretend there’s a camera on them while they unbox their toys. They act all whacky and have fun. But when it’s time to film an audition and there’s a time constraint, I am not in the mood to entertain them goofing off. I simply want to get these self tapes over with and get the best take.

We did six months of auditioning together until finally booking a commercial. I’ll now take the time to explain what this was all like. The good, the bad and the ugly. Especially for those parents out there that are considering whether putting their kids on TV is a good idea for them or not.

To start, we’ve all heard of the acting world being cut throat and one thing I never considered when putting my kids into auditions is one of them getting casted and the other not. I don’t know why I always figured if casting wanted one of us, they would take all of us, but the first commercial my 3 yr old Izabella and I booked, was a commercial our entire family auditioned for.

When my agent told me the director only wanted Izabella and I, she instantly heard the disappointment in my voice. I may have shocked her because this was a pretty big commercial for us to book. But I was nervous about having to tell my six year old Esperanza, that she didn’t get the role and her little sister did.

Esperanza typically comes across soft and shows signs of jealousy toward Izabella because Izabella tends to be bossy and demand her own way. So I thought she would be crushed by this news.

Before telling Esperanza she didn’t get the commercial I made a plan for her to spend the day at her best friend’s house on the day of the shoot. Esperanza doesn’t see her best friend often, so to tell her she would be spending an entire day with her, I believed, would make her forget about the commercial.

Esperanza was so ecstatic over going to her best friend’s house on the day of the shoot, that it made Izabella jealous. Suddenly Esperanza had to encourage Izabella that this commercial would be a fun experience. It was a funny and beautiful scene to watch.

After booking a commercial there are days of preparation which Izabella and I are involved in. Because of the pandemic, we have to go for a COVID test along with all other actors and crew that will be on set. We do get paid for this.

I was nervous about Izabella getting tested, she is 3 after all. But they’ve changed the procedure for testing! They no longer shove a large swab up your nose and into your brain. It’s now a tiny swab which they tickle inside your nose for a few seconds. It’s really quick and just makes you sneeze.

The next day after getting confirmation we did not have COVID, was wardrobe. This was Izabella’s favorite experience. If she still had her doubts about being in a commercial, wardrobe changed that.

Wardrobe is basically stylists taking the time to dress the cast in different outfits. We tried on like 20 different outfits- all brand new clothes with tags on. And with every outfit we tried on, we had to go infront of a white backdrop to get our photos taken by a photographer.

The child star in Izabella came out in that moment. She posed for these photos like she was on the red carpet. She would run to the stylists for outfit after outfit with excitement. It was hard for me to keep up with her. Her behavior was especially odd because there was another child there as her back up, (I imagine this was incase she refused to perform on the day of), and this child was exhausted with trying on outfits by the third outfit change.

This was a fun experience, but I should have planned better for the day. We were only meant to be there for 1-2 hours but was there for almost 4 hours. I didn’t pack water or snacks or any form of entertainment for Izabella.

The team was so kind to give us snacks and drinks. But I definitely would pack snacks and the iPad next time to be sure we’re comfortable and distracted incase there’s a wait. It worked out the stylists were so kind to let Izabella play with their jewelry and hair clips to distract her as well.

Next was the day of the shoot. We were on set at 7:30am. For this day I packed Izabella’s favorite blanket and stuffy. I packed a thermos of almond milk and sippy cups. We brought coloring books, reading books and play dough. I also downloaded her favorite TV shows onto my phone.

Because I was a performer there had to be someone on set to watch Izabella. I got my agent to do so. But they also had someone called a wrangler. This lady’s job was to keep up with Izabella, get her on set and remind her what she needed to do for the scene.

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Izabella loved this lady. I had her call her Aunty. They played together all day and developed quite the bond.

Strangely enough we had no issues with Izabella following the director’s instructions. It was shocking for me because Izabella is the type that’s very bossy while at home. But she was focused and listened while on set. At one point she was even too serious and it made it hard to get the natural goofiness of a child on camera. We had to do things like put on her favorite music and dance to get her to be more whacky.

I loved the environment we were in for Izabella. The director was very careful to not have too many crew members in the room so she wasn’t overwhelmed. People were literally hiding behind objects when she’d enter the room. With each take Izabella was told what a good job she was doing. She was spoken to by everyone with so much kindness. It made me feel so comfortable.

There was one point in the shoot when Izabella got a little too comfortable. She started goofing off at a time when we needed her to do an action just right. In that moment I felt she was going too far and asked the director to have a moment alone with her to talk.

It didn’t take as stern of a talk as I thought it might. No counting to three or threats of time out. She seemed to understand that we were all waiting for her to do this one action and it wasn’t nice to waste people’s time. After our talk she did it perfectly and that was a wrap.

At the end of the day the director gave her a gift bag of toys and activities as a thank you. The director also asked to see Esperanza to give her a gift as well. The director said she has kids too and knows how hard it is for one sibling to get casted over another.

It was a great day! A few unexpected incidences that happened was, I brought two pull-ups for Izabella to make certain there were no potty accidents in the clothing for the shoot. I didn’t expect her to actually pee in the pull-ups but she did (maybe she was nervous). We went through both pull ups so quickly and I was nervous once we ran out because I thought to myself that she could end up having an accident on set while on camera. One of the actors told me it was important I speak up and let someone know we needed more pull-ups for Izabella. I didn’t think it was my place to do so because it was my fault I didn’t bring enough.

But I let wardrobe know and in ten minutes I had a pack of pull-ups for Izabella. I was shocked that was how it worked.

The day after the shoot was one I did not expect and did not feel prepared for. Izabella was exhausted. But not just exhausted so she slept in and had a lazy day in front of the TV. She was cranky and unreasonable. It was a longer day than the day we had on set. There were a lot of tantrums. I spoke to a few other moms of child actors and they said this is normal behavior after a long day on set. This hasn’t deterred me from wanting to have Izabella on set again, but atleast I know what to expect the next time.

Are you the parent of a child actor or interested in getting your kids into acting? Let us know in the comments or email us at info@maturingmama.com


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