Growing up I never really thought that I would have artsy kids. I seemed to be the one who was most drawn to the arts as a career path over my siblings (who are both super creative but work in the medical and technical fields.) I always told myself that I would never force my kids into being creative if the wanted to do something else.
Much to my surprise (but no one else's) my kids are very creative and even come with me on acting jobs every now and then.
It's always a unique experience to have your child on set with you while you are acting. You have to rely on the help of others to keep your child busy and safe while you are running scenes. It's actually secretly quite stressful for me because I have to not only be a professional but I have to be a mother at the same time. It's hard enough being one of these alone! lol!
Last week my son and I had the opportunity to work together for a shoot for Eli Lilly. He is the type of kid that needs a little time to warm up and get talking. But once he's comfortable he will be the one to experience the most joy out whatever he is doing.
If you ever have to bring a child on set with you while you are acting here are my top 3 tips:
1. Always bring your own snacks
On set we were provided yummy authentic tacos from a local restaurant. But I brought my son his own lunch because I didn't want to risk him being picky, not eating and then getting crabby. I knew that as talent I wouldn't be able to just leave anytime I wanted. I even packed a few extra granola bars for myself. I'm glad I did because it ended up being a 12 hour day!
2. Trust that you know what your kid needs
Getting my son to warm up is not something that can be forced. No kid likes to be forced to do anything much less interact with adults and people that they don't know before they are ready. Being a kid actor isn't easy and it's a delicate balance of work and play. The other kids on set were more ready to open up and play. The director was so kind to spend the time to get to know my son and connect with him on different things. As a result I saw a self-confidence come out of my son that made me so proud. He ended up showing the director and DP some really beautiful acting work in the end.
3. Stay calm no matter what
There were several times during the day that I wanted to let my worry overtake me. But I had to keep it together and stay focused. I used a few tricks I've learned to stay positive while we worked around my son's scenes. In the past I would have spoken to myself in a negative manner, beaten myself up or worse which would have affected my performance and my son.
Instead I talked to myself in a positive way and kept trying to look for the good in the day while keeping gratitude at the fore front of my mind. It was very hard for me mind you. Earlier one of the other older actors made my son cry by telling him that he was costing everyone money by not doing his job. I'm still fighting my mama bear emotions just typing this!
Just remember that kids are still emotionally connected to you even if there is no umbilical cord. They feed off of your emotions and they want you to be happy. If you are not happy they can sense that and it affects them as well.
We want everyone to be happy on set day.
My son was on set because the other actors pulled out at the last minute. Acting isn't something my son aspires to do. So it's especially important if your child wants to pursue acting that you keep things light and fun. You don't want them to associate negativity and stress with being on set.
In the end we are getting paid to play and pretend. What's more fun than that?