Child Modeling Tips from Top NYC Casting Director Julia Samersova

how to get your child into modeling

Tips For Parents of Child Actors and Models

I am so excited about this!

I was lucky enough to interview Julia Samersova, the founder of Cast Inc. and one of the top superstar casting directors in NYC.

About Julia Samersova

Julia casts kids and adults in major campaigns and editorials, including Gap, Nike, J Crew, Tory Burch, Old Navy, Sony, Vogue Italia, Neiman Marcus, etc etc.

You name it she’s done it.

In other words: she’s the person you want to impress at a casting.

She shared some great tips for parents, and provided a fascinating glimpse into what her career is like.

Child Modeling and Acting Casting Newsletter

As an NYC headshot photographer, I often get asked by parents about how to get their kids into the Entertainment Industry, and how to succeed in the biz.

In this blog post we are taking things further and going in depth into the world of casting.

I sent out this interview earlier, to everyone who subscribes to my Kids In Entertainment Newsletter.

In this Newsletter I send out child modeling and acting castings so parents can submit their kids directly.

(Want to find out about child modeling and acting castings? You can sign up here.)

I was getting so much great feedback, I decided to share it here on my blog.

To read more interviews, and information you can check out my Getting Started in Child Modeling page.

Thank you Julia!

A HUGE thank you to Julia for taking the time to share her insights, wisdom, humor, and experience with our Newsletter (and blog!) readers.

I am so impressed with her!

There is so much useful information and lots of laughs here.

I’m honored Julia participated, and thrilled to share her thoughts with all of you.

She has some great advice for parents.

Read below!

Headshots by Daisy Beatty Photography

Child Modeling NYC – Tips and Advice

Julia, tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you get into the entertainment industry? How did you get into casting?

Long story short: I did an internship senior year of high school (1993) and that internship was at a modeling agency called Company Management in Soho. I spent the next 7 years at Company Management learning everything I possible could about the world of modeling and management. From there, I went to work at Ford Models, Next Models and Elite Model Management. In 2005, I decided I wanted to switch gears and work on the client side. I bought my first laptop, and with the support and encouragement of my best friend John Pfeiffer (who was already a super established casting director) I opened cast inc. That was 12 years ago! Never looked back! Long story short: I did an internship senior year of high school (1993) and that internship was at a modeling agency called Company Management in Soho. I spent the next 7 years at Company Management learning everything I possible could about the world of modeling and management.

Tell me a bit about Cast Inc. What sort of projects do you work on?

We are a full service casting company. You can see all of our casting work on our website Cast Inc. We cast all types of projects! Obviously tons of projects with children!

How should children prepare for a casting?

They should not prepare. They should just get a good nights rest, eat a good breakfast, brush their teeth, take a deep breath and just have some fun!

How much input does the casting director have into the final decision?

It depends on the client. Most of the time, the client is looking to us to give our input, expertise, and honest opinion. The great clients have a very clear, strong point of view and know exactly what they want and we help their vision come to life. Literally! It is an extremely collaborative process.

What is the most eye catching (in a good way!) thing on a child’s resume?

I don’t look at resumes. EVER!

How should a parent determine if a particular role is right for her/his child?

Does the child want to do it? Is he prepared and excited? If so, the role is right!

Should kids have an agent or rely on direct bookings?

I think agents are very important. They provide guidance, protection and expertise.

How important is social media?

Instagram and Facebook and now Snapchat have made it possible for casting directors to post their castings and have them go viral instantly! Aspiring talent can now get invited to a casting for a major project or campaign without being represented! Its a total game changer!

However, I will add that having an amazing talent manager or agent is still the BEST way to stay connected and knowledgable to EVERY casting. Agents also know the ins and outs of managing talent and negotiating on their behalf! The strongest impact for me, besides the sheer popularity game and numbers, is social media has provided a window into a models/actors world that is totally different than anything that has existed before. It is at once universal and completely intimate. It has given us “all access” to a world once reserved for only a few.

Any tips on how to handle disappointment when I child doesn’t book a particular job?

Make sure that your child is well rounded and has many other interests outside of just modeling/acting. Support your child in his endeavors but also make sure the child knows that your love support are unconditional and unwavering. Be proud of your child for putting themselves out there in the world regardless of the outcome. Make sure your child knows that this is a business and that disappointments are a part of everyones life. DO NOT COMPARE your child to ANY other child! Be a PARENT not a manager! Make sure they are having fun and if they are not, don’t pressure them to continue!

What missteps do you see parents making?

There are so many!

First and foremost, make sure this is something your child wants to do and NOT something that the parent wants to do and vicariously live through their children! We know when a child is being forced to audition for us and no one wants that kind of energy on set! As far as babies and toddlers are concerned, if they don’t want to audition or be photographed or be on set, DO NOT FORCE THEM!!!!! It is cruel!

I actually think FORCING a small child to do this is a a form of child abuse. I know that sounds VERY HARSH, but seeing parents yelling at their 2 year old for “not acting right” as the child screams in bloody murder is JUST NOT OKAY!!!!!!!!! We will ALWAYS ask those parents to remove their child from our studio/set because it is just not good parenting and not good for the welfare of the small child.

With older kids, the parents need to BACK OFF! Do NOT come into the audition room with them! They are old enough to be there on their own and most of the time their parents presence makes them tense up and do poorly on the audition!

Lastly, parents please for the love of all that is sacred, STOP teaching your kids to “MODEL”. It is not 1982 and we don’t want to see your child “POSING” so unnaturally!

Do not have your child come to a casting with a full face of makeup, fancy hairstyles and fancy clothing! We just want to meet the REAL kid.

How can parents be helpful?

Be supportive and friendly and don’t try SO HARD!

Don’t come to a casting and start complaining about waiting or bitching about how long it took you to get there from wherever you came from! No one forced you to drive 6 hours to a casting and no one is forcing you to have your child model or act!

Do NOT be rude to my staff. I will kick you out!

If you know the audition is for a 5 year old and your kid is 9, don’t try to trick us. We know EXACTLY what sizes and ages we are casting for!

Don’t come to the casting and immediately start telling us that you have 3 other castings to go to and can you skip in line? The answer is NO. Everyone is going to wait and we are running a very tight and fair ship! We will not play favorites!

Lastly, do NOT bring your entire family to the casting! If we asked to see your 4 year old son, do not come in with your 11 year old daughter, her 7 year old cousin, a nanny, and 2 grandmas! It is totally rude! Period!

Any advice on balancing school and auditions/work?

School work comes first. Period. Always make sure there is a teacher on set.

Thank you Julia!

UPDATE: Want more advice from Julia? We did a second interview, which you can read on my website by clicking here

And if you want to read tips for child actors from Actors Technique NY founder Todd Etelson, please click here.

About Daisy Beatty Photography

Daisy Beatty is a portrait photographer based in NYC and East Hampton, NY. She specializes in eye-catching headshots of children and adults, and personality reels. She works with models, actors, performers, artists, executives and online daters.

She also offers vibrant, stylish portraits of families, pregnancy, newborns, and children.

She works on location and her in Greenwich Village Manhattan portrait studio.

She serves Manhattan and surrounding Burroughs, and the Hamptons; as well as Westchester, Fairfield CT, Hoboken, Boston, etc.

For more information please contact her here.

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