My oldest had an appointment with a talent agency in Chicago yesterday. The whole “modeling” ball got rolling because my sweet little girl had seen Eloise goes to Hollywood and promptly proclaimed,”Mommy, I want to be a Movie Star!” I sorta giggled to myself, because it just sounded funny to hear a 3 year old say those words. I’ve always been one to encourage my children to follow their dreams, so if that’s what she wants to be, who am I to tell her no? I am just a vehicle for her to use to achieve her goals and realize her potential, isn’t that what us Mommies do? We tell our kids that they can do and be anything, so if they actually decide to follow our advice..well, its time to put up or shut up. I never back down from a challenge, no matter how impossible the task may seem. I’d say becoming a professional actor is about as likely as becoming a paid published writer. I figured you gotta start somewhere and she’s cute, so let’s try modeling. She loves having her picture taken and I thought, an easy way to slowly move into that industry. In Virginia, a nationally affiliated agency wanted her almost immediately and we were so excited. My daughter only appeared in 1 commercial but, hey that’s 1 more commercial then most of us,right? So,we relocate back to the Midwest and our agency in Richmond gave us a local contact in Chicago. The day of the interview, we drive downtown, both of us a little nervous. I was nervous because it was a new agency and I am hypersensitive to the fact that I can’t control what comes out of their mouth..for example; at the meeting in Virginia, I told the agent, “Look, if you are going to have any criticisms of her …those are for my ears only! Those can not, under any circumstances, be stated in front of her. You can’t unring a bell and I don’t want my 4 year old having her self esteem demolished!” There were no criticisms but my obligation is to my baby and I had to put that out there. Here we are 7 months later , right back where we started. I went in there a little anxious, to say the least. My daughter was a little overwhelmed from being in a new environment. We walk in, assess the situation ( its all very downtown). Our enthusiastically chipper agent comes out to greet us. He escorts us back to the glass office (it felt like a fishbowl). The first question out of his mouth was, “Do you want to be a model?” “Why?” OK, wow, rapid fire for a 5 year old. She answers ,”I don’t know” (She was in full on bashful 5 year old mode..brilliant) “Do you like having your picture taken?” “Yes, I do!” and she flashes him a giant grin. Then he says, “Let’s go meet some other people,without Mommy. Mommy will stay here” In my head a plethora of questions flooded my mind , ” Why no Mommy? What’s wrong with Mommy? Where are you taking my baby? I don’t know you!” I got the feeling he didn’t like me. Then I realized he was trying to gauge whether or not I was a crazy stage Mom forcing her baby to live out Mommy’s dream. I felt slightly insulted. When he returned, he was all smiles and giggles and announced that they would love to represent my little girl. I am assuming the jaunt away from me also served as a second opinion by another agent and also to see whether or not my daughter would freak out with me out of her sight. I was excited that they wanted to represent her but at the same time annoyed that they would think I could be a stage Mom:( I understand his concern, after all who wants a kid who is being forced to do this? I am sure there are lots of Mommies who come in there and force their kids to be in modeling/ show business (Lohans, Spears, Simpsons all come to mind) but not me! This was her idea. I am only trying to be supportive but yet, I was getting analyzed like I was a potential monster and my child was a victim of Munchhausen by proxy syndrome. I felt dirty and it took away some of the joy of the occasion. For the record, I am no crazy stage Mom…just a Mom, trying to give my children all of their little hearts desires. Maybe a crazy Mommy but I could care less if she is a model, an artist, a doctor,a teacher, a librarian..as long as she’s happy and loves what she is doing.
My 4 year old daughter has wanted to be a “movie star” since she saw Eloise goes to Hollywood. Not that I think she really knows what that means or what it entails but I have convinced myself that I will never be the shatterer of hopes and dreams when it comes to my girls. If they want to do it or be it, I’m going to support it because we all need a cheerleader.To help her achieve this lofty, if not almost impossible goal, I submitted her photos to a prestigious modeling agency, they called us in, and then they agreed to represent my 4 year old.She is pretty cute, if I do say so myself:), and I figured what a better place to start than some print work. Of course,fast forward a couple months later, she books her first job. Its a commercial. Amazing right? No, well, it was to us. She was excited, our friends were excited, our family was excited, myself, I was too exhausted from organizing an unexpected relocation to really comprehend how exciting it was. It was to be a commercial for a local car dealership. We were in set the mandatory 15 minutes early, of course we had been sitting outside in the car for a 1/2 hour before that but we couldn’t come in, per instructions from our agency. Apparently, its unprofessional.We walk in the door with our 4 outfits they asked me to bring, of course they left her in the faded jeans, ugg boots, and long sleeve t-shirt and navy polo she walked in with. Oh, that is with the exception of removing the polo (which was the only cute part of the entire outfit because it was the riding to the shoot outfit..not the actual outfit for the shoot:) I was all very surreal, hair and make up on my 4 year old.She sat straight in the chair , jibber jabbing the make up artists head off. We exchanged niceties and she told me how bright and beautiful my daughter was, something a mother can never hear too much of. Then we began the actual shoot, or what I’d like to refer to as “the train wreck of 2010”. My daughter was “the daughter”, to the family in the commercial. There were like 10 adult actors and my 1 child, did I mention she had never even done a print booking. Talk about putting all of your eggs in one basket. Jeez. It starts out the pretend Dad has to lift my little girl into the back of a pickup.Oh my, poor guy. My daughter is very tall for her age, she is like 45 inches tall and around 53 lbs. She is rock solid. This guy was about 5’10” and having trouble lifting my child. She was more than half his length and its awkward to lift a kid that tall, I should know. I looked on with pity and horror as this man struggled.My daughter just sat there, like a deer in headlights, except for the occasional cheese she tossed in the general direction of myself or the camera ( which she was not suppose to be looking at because she was supposed to be looking at her damned fake parents!)But I stood there, silent watching it all happen because Mom’s (like children) are on set to be seen and not heard. I was there strictly for moral support and legal reasons.They eventually finish the 15 or so takes, my daughter is totally confused by the people moving their mouth feigning conversation with no actual sound coming out.It was all very overwhelming for her. The bright lights,the strange man lifting her up..which by the way, every time he lifted her up, her shirt lifted up on her belly.She’s 4, so she paid no attention, but the adults (not even the fake Mommy…oh, you so know she doesn’t really have children)not one of them thought to pull her shirt down or tell her to do it. It was very frustrating.This could go on for days and it felt like it did. Let’s just sum it up by saying she is 4! She was tired , she was hungry, and she was overwhelmed but she didn’t have a meltdown, and she didn’t cry, and she didn’t act like a brat.She did everything they told her to do, to the best of her 4 year old ability. That was a long day and there is so much more that I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you:) She did ,however, at the end of the day, as we were leaving the shoot look me in the eyes and say, “Awww, dang it Mommy.It was my first commercial and all I got was this sparkly new hairpin!” I chuckled to myself, I guess that paycheck and all that excitement didn’t count for much..because , in her mind, all she got out of the day was “that sparkly new hairpin”. I asked her if she wanted to still be a “Movie Star”. She said ,”Sure Momma. I bet when I’m on Disney channel, they’ll give me all kinds of sparkly(SPark-A-LEE) new hairpins!”LOL. Keep on dreamin big, baby!
Disclaimer: This is in no way, shape, or form a dig at the process or my agency, this was about the train wreck that I had to watch my kid be part of because of her inexperience. It was like helplessly watching a car slide off into the ditch.Or watching your baby fall when learning to walk for the first time.It was inevitable, and you couldn’t stop it, it was just the circumstances and our naivete. We are looking forward to the next time, we’re going to fishtail…on purpose!