In Summary
  • Unlike the elaborate riders sometimes specified by their adult counterparts, these pint-sized thespians have more mundane requirements — time for homework, regular breaks and the odd afternoon nap
  • Another challenge in working with actors who are far from fully mentally developed is getting them to access and express the full range of emotions that they might not yet have experienced in real life.
  • Child actors have to learn to keep their feet on the ground amid the sudden glare of the media spotlight and previously unimaginable wages, which isn't easy if they have pushy parents trying to live vicariously through their newly famous offspring.

From sci-fi horror series Stranger Things to drama Big Little Lies and sitcom black-ish, one notable feature of many contenders for this weekend's Emmy Awards is that they star children.

Unlike the elaborate riders sometimes specified by their adult counterparts, these pint-sized thespians have more mundane requirements — time for homework, regular breaks and the odd afternoon nap.

"They are not trained actors like adults, but the kids that get the roles have an inherent ability," said casting director Amanda Lenker Doyle, who worked on black-ish.

"They have the charisma, the willingness to dive into a role. They listen well... They're very smart."

Child actors sometimes arrive at auditions better prepared than adults and with scripts memorized from top to bottom, despite not yet being able to read.

While the maxim "never work with children or animals" is clearly not worth heeding, there are of course challenges to hiring youngsters for TV or film.

"With children I'm dealing with the family dynamics, the family politics. It's a lot about the parents," talent manager Jason MacRay told AFP.

MacRay says he will turn a young actor away — even a kid with clear talent — if the parents don't give off the right vibe.

"I can just tell it'll be a disaster dealing with mum or dad or both, particularly if they don't agree," he said.

COMPLEX EMOTIONS

Another challenge in working with actors who are far from fully mentally developed is getting them to access and express the full range of emotions that they might not yet have experienced in real life.

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