How Much Money do Child Actors Make?
October 2, 2014
A Rough Patch
October 19, 2014

Is it More Difficult for Girls to Break into the Biz?

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T he short answer, yes.

Study after study shows that a majority, about two thirds, of all speaking roles on television and film are male.  There are more girls than boys trying to land a role.  With fewer parts for girls and more actors competing for each role logic says it is more difficult for girls to break in however this does not paint the complete picture. With puberty beginning in girls earlier than boys and therefore their physical appearance becoming more adult like, a production is much more likely to cast a young adult to play an adolescent female than a male. What is their motivation to cast young adults? Adults can work longer hours and do not require a set teacher or social worker on set. It’s a no brainer for a production to try to cast older kids but the believability of an 18 year old boy whose voice has undoubtedly changed playing the part of a 13 year old boy is a much farther stretch than an 18 year old girl playing a young teen or even preteen.

Bryant-Payton_09-14 Girls to Break into the Biz Is it More Difficult for Girls to Break into the Biz? Bryant Payton 09 14

When I’ve discussed these facts with my friends in the industry it is accepted as common knowledge, a given. When agents announce open calls for new talent they often have a disclaimer that discourages girls ages 12 -16 from even showing up unless they are “special”, the cream of the crop. It is extremely competitive for these girls. It’s interesting, I’ve been at several callbacks with Payton and, to say the least, the mothers and the girls are more than unfriendly. Common curtesy like holding the elevator or door go out the window and forget a friendly acknowledgement or smile. Indeed, the waiting room for an audition should be a quiet place to allow actors to concentrate and stay in their zone but the difference in the environment for girls, callbacks versus boys is tangible.

I marvel at the grace with which my daughter Payton handles these odds. From a very young age acting and performing has been her dream. Although it was Bryant’s dream too, initially he was merely following in her footsteps as she followed in mine. Eventually they simultaneously announced their desire to step from stage to screen.   Not only has she watched her brother get his “big break” and steadily work in this crazy business, she enthusiastically roots for him to succeed and is his greatest supporter. Being happy for Bryant is a choice Payton has made. Some contributors to her sustained success at being delighted for his triumphs are; first and foremost they love each other and are best friends. Also, Payton is patient and a talented actress. So long as she keeps wanting to do this work, her time will come. Furthermore, she has had her own successes and opportunities. How many teenage girls know their way around the red carpet and film set like the back of their hand?  She has done a couple of commercials and had the opportunity to be on stage with a Broadway legend while being directed by a Tony award winning Director. It helps that she has the mindset to feel gratitude when, out of the sea of girls, she is selected for an audition.  Wisely, she views every one as a chance to be seen and remembered by a casting director.

Payton Headshot 2013.2 Girls to Break into the Biz Is it More Difficult for Girls to Break into the Biz? Payton Headshot 2013I’m thankful that unlike some families in this business, my child actors are never competing for the same role. We encourage the kids not to focus on the outcomes of their auditions. After all, the odds are never in their favor. We try to focus on the benefits of the auditioning process and growing their talents. We move on after each audition and never discuss it further unless there is a call from their agent letting us know that casting wants to see more.

Even with discouraging odds like these, girls with all of this against them are cast every day.  If a young actress is passionate about the work, can view each audition as one step closer to their goal and avoid feeling rejection despite years of not being cast, then this might be for them. The most important things are for girls to stay true to themselves, believe in themselves, build their craft, stay well rounded and active in other activities they love. They should never lower their standards to do work that compromises their values. Girls should be certain to avoid trying to fit a mold they believe to be the “type” cast but strive to be their best self, because film and television require every type. Ultimately, as the saying goes; luck is opportunity met by preparedness. Be ready, keep patiently striving and break a leg!

1 Comment

  1. Carrie says:

    i could have written this myself after my daughter who is 14 has been auditioning for several parts with no luck. She’s done theater, she’s taken the acting classes, she does good – but it’s very very competitive If you aren’t a boy, young girl between 7-10, ethnic or an emancipate minor… it’s a tough tough job. We recently found about about the emancipation of 16/17 year olds so that they don’t have to follow the rules for those who are under 18 – no tutors, no restrictions on hours, don’t have to have a guardian on set. So those are the girls playing the 13-17 range and the younger playing 7-12 range. It’s so heartbreaking but my daughter just keeps on auditioning. (we found you through Triple Threat’s Instagram in Mt Juliet, TN). I figure if she keeps on doing theater, taking classes and auditioning that she will be well prepared when she hits 18.

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