OBSERVATIONS ON STANDING-IN FOR CHILD ACTORS
OBVI NO SHADE TO ANYONE ON HERE THAT WAS A CHILD ACTOR 💖💖
- •I'm an actress, but to pay my bills, I stand-in for child actors. It's easy work and I prefer this to nannying or waiting tables because it's actually in the field of what I want to do.And being honest, the money is very decent.
- •It's strange though because I'll often find myself resenting these 5-12 year olds for doing what I want to do. I feel like they don't really understand or appreciate all of the hard work that goes into trying to do what they're doing.
- •Standing-in in and of itself is really strange. Majority of the stand-ins that I've met are happy to just make standing-in their career and I just can't relate to that.If the director or AD asks us to run a scene, oftentimes stand-ins will be super irritated. I DON'T UNDERSTAND! Maybe I just haven't been in the game as long but that's like someone saying they want to be a nanny and then getting pissed when kids want to play with them.
- •Okay, now onto stuff about child actors...
- •I've only met one or two parents who I truly believe have their child's best interests at heart.I can always tell by the way the parent talks to me and the way they let their kid act around the crafty table. Oftentimes, the kid will be slamming pop after pop while the parent is talking to someone else. And this is probably a big leap to make, but I feel like that says a lot about the control they exert over the kid and the kind of future the kid will have.
- •The kids pick up on how the older actors behave and follow their lead.If the older actors take 3 minutes to talk to the kid and play with them or listen to their stories, the kid is 50x more likely to behave better when on set. I worked on an AMC drama with a particularly cold actress. I was standing-in for the kid who played her son. The kid seemed terrified the entire time. Just clung to his Dad and didn't want to talk to anyone else.
- •The above is even more true when they're working with teenage actors.They obviously see them as their surrogate big brothers and sisters. I work on KC Undercover for Disney Channel and we have Zendaya who is 18, Kamil who is 16(?) and Trinitee who is 9. If Kamil and Zendaya goof off in a scene, we basically lose Trinitee. It becomes about her trying to make them laugh. Which is completely understandable because SHE'S A KID.
- •IMO, it's a much better environment for the child actor if they're on a show with other child actors.I worked on Parenthood and stood-in for Sydney. It was adorable to see her, the boy who played Victor, and the boy who played Jabbar hanging out during breaks. They clearly liked each other and it warmed my heart to watch them play basketball and ride scooters together during lunch.
- •When there aren't other kids, they feel like the entire show is about them and basically go BUCK WILD.I stood in for a five year old boy on a very long running sitcom. He was brought on for the last season and this kid had only ever done a commercial before this. Obviously a very high pressure situation. The kid was a fucking nightmare. At one point, the studio teacher told him to stop climbing on a railing and he said "I'll do what I want or you can find another actor." FIVE YEARS OLD. What's worse is that you gotta believe he heard that from his parents b/c no kid could just think of that.
- •Often, I'm used as a go between for the director and the kid. I love kids and am happy to be their buddy when they're chill.A child actor will often see an AD as their teacher/boss who can yell a lot. So the AD will sometimes come up to me and say "hey, if you could get Albert to do [something] during the scene, that would be awesome." And the kid sees me as a buddy who's their size who just happens to talk like an adult.
- •My favorite child actor to stand-in for was Albert Tsai from Trophy Wife.I loved him. He was a little Chinese nugget of happiness. We had a secret handshake that we would do every time I gave him notes. He would often come up to me and hold my hand between scenes. I miss him dearly.
- •Honorable mention: Trinitee Stokes from KC Undercover.She calls me "Miss Hollis" even though I tell her time and time again to stop. She'll tell me when I look "fly" and have cool shoes on. She also did not know until episode 20 that I was a little person. She thought I was like 12 years old and just doing a job? But, it was actually a really cool teaching moment because I got to explain dwarfism to her for the first time and give her her first impression.