With talent shows now a staple of primetime TV, it seems everyone wants their five minutes of fame – and with opportunities for children greater than ever, what are the realities of ‘playing the fame game’ for youngsters and their parents?
Many weekend drama schools, including The Pauline Quirke Academy here in Muswell Hill, have agencies attached to them that allow students access to professional auditions for stage, film and television. But before you get too excited by thoughts of red carpet premieres and A-list parties, there are a few things to bear in mind. The first is that joining an agency is not a fast-track to fame and fortune – indeed the agency attached to PQA, Quirky Kidz (QK), makes a point of telling parents and students that if that’s their primary motive for joining, they’re likely to be disappointed. “There’s a phenomenal amount of competition out there,” says PQA Creative Director Sarah Counsell. “Getting students through the door just for an audition is difficult enough and when you then consider all the other great kids they’ll be up against for a part, the chances of being successful are incredibly slim. We encourage all our students to look at this positively and treat auditions as an experience that they should try to enjoy. Brilliant kids lose out on parts all the time – and often it’s something they can’t do anything about, like being a bit too tall, or having the wrong colour hair.”
So, what can be done to maximise your chances? Getting a good training is essential, so attending a weekend drama school can be the perfect way to hone your skills and pick up some tips that’ll give you the edge. “It’s also about playing the long game,” says Sarah. “TV talent shows make it all look so quick and easy, but it’s really not like that. It takes a lot of hard work, making yourself the best you can be, accepting the knock backs and learning from them. I’ve known young actors who have struggled for years to get a part and then eventually their time comes along. It can happen, but it’ll almost certainly take time.”
It’s also advisable to be realistic when it comes to the money too. With the exception of one or two children who end up as leads in major feature films, most children can expect to earn between £50-£200 for a job – not bad for pocket money, but a long way from buying your first yacht.
Despite the odds being stacked against you, QK have plenty of success stories to boast about. The BBC’s hit drama Peaky Blinders features Alfie Evans-Meese from PQA Wolverhampton and other students have appeared in Casualty, EastEnders, Doctors and Les Miserables, as well as countless pop videos for groups including One Direction. QK clients have also had success on the stage, including two students who are in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the West End, and there has been a stream of clients who have won parts in commercials. It seems if you’re realistic, adopt a healthy approach and work hard, then the opportunities are there for the taking.
The Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts
Fortismere School (Creighton Avenue entrance)
Every Saturday, 09:45-13:00
Principal: Emma Vincent