Mama Mary is the host of the her own blog The Mama Mary Show, a freelance writer, author of Dead Dads Club, a mom to two spunky little girls and an a over-zealous GLEEk.

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You Oughta Be In Pictures

Have you ever lovingly glanced at your child and thought, “You oughta be in pictures”? Well if so, this is the article for you. There are many questions, myths and concerns regarding getting a child into acting or modeling which deter many parents from pursuing it, so I have laid out three basic steps, some need-to-knows, and a few words of caution that should help your journey.


1)    Find An Agent

Most casting directors use casting agents to hire actors, particularly child actors.  There are several reputable agencies in San Diego that are listed below. All agencies have varying procedures for submission which will be spelled out on their websites.

2)    Get a Work Permit

All minors need a talent work permit before working on a film/TV set or a modeling shoot that you can obtain from your local labor board (in San Diego it is located at 7575 Metropolitan Dr., Rm. 210). There is a form you can download on line and must be signed by parent/legal guardian, the employer and the child’s school.  The form takes a few days to process and must be updated every 6 months. It is the parent’s responsibility to keep the work permit updated.

3)    Set-up A Coogan Account

Coogan’s Law states that children must have 15% of their earnings put into a protected trust fund via direct deposit, which no one can touch until the child is 18.  The law was named after Jackie Coogan, a child star who had been discovered by Charlie Chaplin and became infamous for the brutal legal battles he entered into with his parents over his earnings. The Coogan Account does not need to be set up until an actual gig is booked.


1)    Children under 7 do not necessarily need a head shot. An amateur snapshot by mom or dad will suffice.
2)    The going rate for head shots is approx $200 – $300. No need to spend thousands of dollars (see below for a SPECIAL OFFER and leave a comment to win a FREE photography session!).
3)    When taking head shots, outdoor settings are preferable, no busy patterns or logos, no dress-up clothes and no make-up or hair done up.
4)    Agents are typically looking for twins and triplets, particularly for babies and toddlers, since the labor laws limit the amount of hours children can be on a set at one time.
5)    Actors Alliance of San Diego is a great local resource for beginning acting classes and seminars, as are the local colleges.


•    A legitimate agent will not ask you for money up front. NOT EVER. Agents make their money on a percentage of money brought in once a gig is booked.  So asking for money up front is a major red flag.
•    Before booking with an agency, make sure they are SAG franchised.
•    If it seems like a scam, it probably is. Listen to your parental instincts.

Stay tuned for more information on local children’s acting programs later this week.

Artist Management
Shamon Freitas
Elegance  (specialize in children)
Jet Set


Thanks to our friends at we have a FREE photography session, valued at $300.00, to give-away to one lucky reader. The photographer is Adam Baruh, who recently moved to San Diego all the way from The Big Apple. Check out his work, it’s amazing! To enter the contest, just leave a comment. The winner will be selected next Monday, June 21st. Must be a SoCal resident, and/or able to come to San Diego for the photo shoot.

Also, is holding a deal this week for an hour long session with Adam for only $79.00. CLICK HERE to get in on this hot deal, only a few days left.

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Comments (16)

  1. Katy 03/23/2014 at 5:18 am

    Everyone constantly tells me to get my boys in front of the camera. I haven’t been in favor of it but lately my eldest is asking to be on tv so, maybe it’s time to give it a go. Just have to wait for Henry to grow out the hair cut he gave himself. Sign us up.

  2. Allysin Vally 01/15/2014 at 11:47 am

    Hi! Everyone tells us we have an adorable son, so we figured we could posibly start him in modeling to help offset college costs. He is only 22 months old, so an early start would be good for him.

  3. Geovanna Pierce 05/12/2013 at 8:51 pm

    Looking to get my four year old son involed in modeling.

  4. Mama Mary 06/16/2010 at 5:38 am

    Laura, Bella is stunning and she looks great on camera. Sign her up, stat! : )

  5. Birdrockfab 06/15/2010 at 2:47 am

    Great tips Mary!I used to work as a booking agent for an LA based agency and this is right on target. I would only allow my children to participate under these same conditions.

  6. Laura Frontiero 06/14/2010 at 9:17 pm

    This is such helpful information Mary. I have wondered about this for awhile but was kinda overwhelmed so didn't pursue anything. Thanks for the great tips.

  7. Mama Mary 06/14/2010 at 5:23 am

    With his eyes? Absolutely yes!!! Call me, we'll do lunch. 🙂

  8. Mel, A Dramatic Mommy 06/14/2010 at 2:54 am

    We've been tossing the idea of getting our DS into the biz since he was a baby. Perhaps it's time.

  9. Mama Mary 06/12/2010 at 6:46 am

    That little surfer boy NEEDS to be in pictures. We have a future Spicoli on our hands!

  10. Mama Mary 06/12/2010 at 6:46 am

    Definitely you should Sara! Call me and we can chat about it! Elegance is up in CBad, close.

  11. sara osterink 06/12/2010 at 5:03 am

    I checked out this photographer and loved it. I am seriously thinking about getting Emma and Katie into acting or modeling because they are twins and about every 2 seconds someone tells me I should 🙂 Maybe I should listen.

  12. Beth Avant 06/11/2010 at 10:23 pm

    People are always telling me to get my son an agent… maybe I will!

  13. Kathyr2 06/11/2010 at 9:28 pm

    Great information and awesome tips!

  14. Laura Lee 06/11/2010 at 8:34 pm

    Great Post Mary. Good information!

  15. Christina 06/11/2010 at 6:40 pm

    Great post, Mary! I'm hoping baby will have the curls I had and then we just might have to get his chubbah wubbah self in some GAP ads 😉

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