Welcome back to The Actor’s Note and to Part Two of my informative interview with Youth Talent Manager, Corey Ralston!
Check back for Part 3 later this week!
What I Look for in New Talent
Ariana: Earlier, you just mentioned that you tend to look for untapped talent. You’re not necessarilylooking for that child that’s already done fifty commercials or has all of that experience. What do you look for in a client? What do you look for before you sign them and what do you look for after you sign them?
Corey: So, it’s such a hard thing to answer. When I have a roster, I like to have one or two of each type,of each age range and race and other stuff. I don’t want my own clients to compete against each other,so I look to fill the gaps on that level. Then, first off, I look for really great headshots. I’m like a headshot freak and I always tell people if you have five hundred dollars to spend on an acting career spend four hundred and ninety nine dollars on your headshots. Headshots are just so, so, so important and headshots can really make you jump out. But I’m looking for kids who feel like old souls. I tend to be attracted to kids who show empathy and genuineness above all. You know there are so many kids out there that think that they have to present themselves as some sort of cheesy, phony entity. But what goes so far is just being real, genuine and nice. Nice goes really, really far with people.There are some kids that have really balanced the stage acting versus on camera so it’s really nice when you find that. And I love the kids that don’t necessarily want to be famous, but just want to be an actor. That’s big in my book. I want the future Meryl Streeps. Do you know what I mean?
Corey: You know kids that just genuinely love the craft of acting and want to explore characters and get excited every time they pick up a script and aren’t going to whine about having to do a self-tape or are more concerned with how many Insta-whoever is on their account and what red carpet events they can go to. That’s out the door for me. I’m not interested.
Ariana: I think it’s the same for me too. Obviously, I coach acting and singing. I have adults and I have kids, but I love when I have someone who comes along who I see has that drive to just want to act and create. Life, when I give them a monologue and they’re so excited to just work on the character and they come in with character notes it makes me so happy. I’m sure there’s different styles of what people want out there, but it’s nice to hear the love of the craft as a main thing.
Corey: There’s also the IT factor that everyone talks about which you know is really hard to pinpoint but one casting director that I love sort of pinpointed it well enough. She said, someone that has the IT factorwhen they come into your casting room and when they leave they create a vacuum that makes you wish they were back in the room. That’s what so many people forget about the whole acting process. There’s actually a stat that says sixty-three percent of the casting employment that you have is about what you did in the room, not your scene. So less than half of what your actual acting job is (because you know most pro-actors can act, right?) but casting directors are looking for someone they can connect with who’s real and is fun and who makes them laugh or with whom they can have a real conversation. So many kids are afraid of adults and so I’m constantly trying to instill in them that, hey, you guys are equals and your job is to go and make friends with every casting office so that they like you and call you back. And one of these days they’ll have that role that will be perfect for you.
Ariana: I hope parents understand that it’s not always just about that specific audition or not getting that part because you’re not right for that role. It’s more about having them not being able to stop thinking about you so that they may have something come up later and say, oh let’s call in this person. They were so wonderful when they were here. Right?
Corey: Yes. Casting directors are in the job of knowing actors. So, they keep really, really great notes.So we always say the audition is the job. Look, the reality is 2500-4000 actors per role are being sent in and then out of that less than a hundred are actually going to get to read for it and then one person’s going to book it and like past the callback stage. It’s totally out of your control you know. It’s sometimes simply, you don’t look the way they see the character. There are so many reasons, you don’t have enough TV credits…so many things that are out of your hands. Just having all these casting directors like you when you go in makes it easier for lightning to strike.
What I Want from the People I Work With
Ariana: Having a manager can also help you be prepared when that lighting does strike. What comes next after you take on a client? You’re behind them as their manager but what are you expecting at that point as a talent manager?
Corey: I expect all of my clients to train, train, train. I say train like you are Michael Phelps. This business is a billion dollar industry. People are putting out lots and lots of money. This isn’t something that you can do half way. It’s something that you have to really and really train for. You don’t have to spend tons of money to train. You could be in a couple of classes and have a coach, but watching films, doing cold reads, reading plays, doing scene breakdowns with your actor friends are things you can do for free. I mean there’s just tons and tons of things that you can do to stay sharp but you have to train every day. I mean there’s so many kids that are going to soccer practice four days a week and then they have Boy Scouts and other activities. If they’re not totally devoted how canthey expect someone to trust them to be on a TV series? You have to treat it like it’s the most important thing to you because there’s thousands of other people that do operate that way and so I do really emphasize that. I want the kids to train, train, train.
They also need to be on top of their tools because that’s what I rely on to help them make it. So making sure that we have acting clips from their casting profiles, making sure those are updated, making sure that they have new headshots like twice a year because kids grow so fast and that they are honest about what they can do.
Kids also have and need a home life too and so most of us are very lenient about certain things. With an adult actor its more like, you missed three appointments you’re out. But you know there are moms out there, some of them have like three or four kids in the industry that they’re carting to auditions and you know there’s homeschool and church and all kinds of stuff going on and kids get sick and all kinds of stuff. I like how the child’s side of the industry and almost every agent that I know and casting offices that do mainly kids shows all have a lighter attitude about life because they’re kids, man. I love kids and we do need to treat them that way. We can’t hold then to same standards as adult actors.
Ariana: Let’s talk parents! What do you expect from the parents once you take on their child as a client? Do you need them to be super involved? Do you want them to take a back seat? We all know the Mama Rose type…
Corey: Right. It didn’t take me long to really start paying attention to red flags, little things in my gut that said, I don’t know if this is going to work out. Maybe a parent has crazy expectations and doesn’t really understand how the industry works or maybe they’re too flippant about the whole thing, thinking,oh well we can miss that or we’ll just get headshots you know five months from now even though I asked for them four months prior. Parents are a big thing. Most managers and agents when they meet with the kid have already pretty much decided if they want to sign that kid. That whole interview process is mainly to check out the parents. I have a great group of parents. You know if I can’t be friends with them, if we can’t have a glass of wine and chill and joke and stuff, then they’re probably, I don’t know, they’re not my people. It’s so unfortunate because a parent can so easily kill any chance of their kid being an actor. We see it all the time. They just ruin a really talented kids chances by having the wrong attitude. Maybe wanting too much control, for example. I want my parents as involved as they can be. I’m the type of person that welcomes parents knocking on my door. I’ve got a million different things on my plate but I’m always here. I just I want them to always be completely honest. If they can’t make a commitment because, say, they can’t afford it that month or whatever, just tell me. Life is lifeand I understand that this field is really expensive to maintain.
Ariana: There are a lot of expenses to stay on top of.
Corey: I did a budget worksheet for what the average costs for a child actor and it was over $20,000 dollars a year. Some people don’t even make that much money. It’s a business. People forget it’s not like play practice or even the way Broadway works. It’s a business, man, you know.
Check back soon for the final part of this amazing interview!
Corey Ralston has been involved with entertainment since the age of seven as a child actor in L.A. He then went on to pursue talent management in 2000 and again in 2017. He is currently repping kids and young adults at Bohemia Group. Corey founded and runs a resource community for parents called Child Actor 101 which has dozens of agents, managers, and casting directors moderating discussions and giving frank free advice to those pursuing a career for their children. In addition to working as a child actor, he has put in time as an acting coach, headshot photographer, and theater director, giving him 30 years invested in the entertainment industry. His varied and extensive experience in these facets of “the biz” has prepared him to guide and develop young talent. Corey is married to an actor-elementary school teacher, Henry Allen Ralston, living a semi low-key existence with their fur babies. His production company, Ralston Entertainment, is currently developing family-friendly entertainment.
Ariana Fort is a professional screen and stage acting coach located in Oldwick,New Jersey. She has been involved in the theatre world since 6 and loves nothing more than helping fellow actors reach their goals!
Corey Ralston Talent Manager Bohemia Jr. - Youth Division Bohemia Group email@example.com
Child Actor 101 www.facebook.com/groups/childactor101
Parent Courses www.parentsofactors.xyz
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