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Breaking Into Showbiz

School of Success: Nine young breakthrough actors shine a reality spotlight on what it takes to fulfill dreams of becoming Hollywood stars. Their experience teaches lessons any up-and-coming performer can use.
Star Turns
Whenever we at Pageantry watch a TV show, go to a movie or play, or see a commercial or print advertisement with a child appearing in it, we are always amazed by the talent of the young performers, who make it look so easy to be actors. But after inviting nine up-and-coming stars into a round-table discussion of their experience and hearing what they had to say, we’re going to have a new appreciation for their intelligence, hard work, and perseverence to make it professionally in Hollywood. We are indebted to Martin Weiss, of Martin Weiss Management, who organized the enlightening rap session you are about to read. We hope that, in sharing their experiences — the hopes, the accomplishments, and the struggles along the way — you will also come to appreciate their efforts, and perhaps gain insights that might propel your own future stardom.
Who or what made you realize that you may have what it takes to become an actor?
Joseph Castanon: When I was really little, I used to stand on a chair and perform for my family and friends. I was also in Colorado Kids Productions for singing and dancing on stage.
Mollie Clinton: I was in my first theatre production and I thought, “I love this!”
Jon Kent Ethridge: I first realized I could when I would watch Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and I thought, “I could do that.”
Lauren Furs: My mom’s friend was working for TV producer Aaron Spelling, so for my eleventh birthday, she arranged for me to be on Seventh Heaven.
Grant Furs: My sister’s agent kept telling me that I would book.
Mackenzie Hannigan: I went to Barbizon – Boston and IMTA – New York and had a lot of fun and did really well, which made me think I could become an actor.
Shannon O’Connor: I just wanted to take acting classes. The acting group I was in invited agents to visit, and I was asked to sign with one.
Darian Weiss: I have done a lot of musical theater, and people are always saying to me, “You should have your own sitcom.” I’m still waiting for my lucky break.
Benjamin Weiss: I was reading lines with Darian to help him prepare for an audition. The show was about a bratty kid with buck teeth who teases his sister, and my brother said, “Hey, Ben, you should try out for this, because this character is just like you.” The next thing I knew, his manager called to say I had an audition.
How hard is it to get started in an acting career as a young person?
L. Furs: It is hard for someone who just decides to do it to get representation, unless you go to IMTA or find a manager.
Hannigan: It’s pretty hard because you don’t know what will happen when you go out on your calls, or how it will turn out. You have to be able to accept dissapointment, and keep trying to do better.
D. Weiss: It’s very important to take classes, so that you can keep working on your craft, because even when you think you’re the best one for the job, there always seems to be someone just a little better than you.
Ethridge: It’s difficult because it takes time and money, but if you believe in yourself, it’s worth every penny.
Clinton: Though it can be hard to get started in acting, my mom just sent in one picture of me to an agency and they called us the next morning.
G. Furs: It was easy for me, too, because my agent found me.
What personal qualities would you say helped you break into the business?
B. Weiss: Being funny at an audition helps me book jobs, because if everyone is laughing, you don’t think about being nervous.
Castanon: I agree. You need to be outgoing and have a good personality, and also love what you are doing.
Ethridge: What makes people notice me is my wittiness, personality, and, last but not least, my Afro.
L. Furs: I also have a unique look. I don’t think it helps commercially, but it helps for modeling and theatrical assignments.
What advice and support did your parents give you?
G. Furs: My parents said to stay myself and not to try and impress people, and to be honest.
Castanon: We talked about the sacrifices and trade offs that it would take, like moving from our family.
L. Furs: Mine said, “Audition and forget about it. When the job is right for me, it will happen. Always be honest and be myself.”
Ethridge: My parents want me to be safe and to just be a normal kid.
How has your show business career affected or been affected by your family relationships?
Hannigan: As an actor, you miss out on things, but it was worth it to me in order to be an actor.
O’Connor: The person who has been most affected by me being in the business is my older brother, because is left alone a lot during my auditions. He doesn’t complain about it, but I know it must bother him because it would bother me. Also, I don’t have a lot of time to spend with him, so we seem to fight more often.
B. Weiss: My sister has to give up a lot of things also. My grandparents think I’m getting involved in the wrong business, that I won’t have a childhood.
Clinton: My family all think what I do is very cool, and I think they would secretly love to do it, too.
How did you find your manager?
D. Weiss: I met my manager, Martin Weiss, at the Young Artist Awards nomination party about four years ago. We just hit it off right from the start. We do a lot of things together outside of acting. He is more like a mentor.
Castanon: I met Martin at IMTA in New York. My mom and I flew to Los Angeles and met with four different managers.
  For the complete behind-the-scenes story and all the details on this and other exciting competitive events from across America, as well as a wealth of advice to improve your chances of victory, be sure to order Pageantry today.  

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  For the complete behind-the-scenes story and all the details on this and other exciting competitive events from across America, as well as a wealth of advice to improve your chances of victory, be sure to order Pageantry today.  

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