Everyone wants to know how to land a job on the Disney Channel. I get asked several times a week and everyone seems to think that I have a secret that will help land them a series.
Well, I do have a secret and I’m going to share it with you now.
A lot of people think that you get on Disney by being cute, that all you need to do is get into the right audition, or get seen by the right people. This not the secret.
The people who do get jobs with Disney only need to do one thing well. So…
Here’s the”BIG SECRET.”
To land a great role with a great company (like Disney) all you have to do is… Have consistently excellent auditions. That’s all. Just do really really well on your audition. Every audition. Every time. Over and over again. The kids who get hired for a Disney series will do several auditions for any small roll, if it’s a series regular (staring role) then they will need to do as many as 5 or 6 or more and will need to be excellent every time. If every audition is great, then you have a chance. Probably not the secret you were hoping for, but I wish to be straight with you and there is enough misinformation out there already. The absolute truth is, you need to be totally prepared for the opportunity. .
To begin, in order to get an audition you generally need a talent agent to set up the appointment with a casting office. If you get an audition, you will walk in alone, with no help, just your skills and experience. If you haven’t practiced enough to have the poise and confidence to “perform” in the office then Disney won’t be interested. Disney needs to know that if they build a show around you - you will be there every day, lines memorized, ready to give 100% on every take on every scene (remember “being professional” means being able to do your best work even when you don’t feel like it).
Having the passion to be on Disney is not enough – you need to back it up with preparation!
Just wanting to be on a professional athlete won’t get you a spot in Dodgers line up, but it is enough to motivate you to play baseball. Athletes don’t just show up for a practice with the Dodgers and get on the team – and actors don’t just show up at a Disney audition and get on a show. With acting, desire is enough to get you into classes. If you have enough tenacity and determination you’ll work hard in class, do your homework, practice your scenes – day after day. Eventually, all that practice and dedication might lead to an audition where you will have an opportunity to share your talent.
Disney is looking for talent and for personality too!
Not everyone who tries will make it. But everyone who doesn’t try will certainly fail! What can parents do to know if their child has the commitment they need? Parents can take their kids to an acting class and see if the child fully participates. Does the child do all their homework? Do they look forward to going to class? They need to practice and go to all rehearsals, get their homework done every day. The young actor needs to do what they say they will do and generally be responsible for the work. On a Disney show, every week,the kids must learn an entire script AND go to school full time, AND keep up their GPA, AND deliver a terrific performance, regardless of what else’s is going on in their lives.
Before getting on Disney show most actors have auditioned many times before. As well as, booked other jobs in film/television/commercials. A good example would be the show Hannah Montana. They searched for a year or more, auditioning hundreds of girls. I must have coached at least a dozen or more. Miley Cyrus got passed over in her first audition and they came back to her a year later after having seen dozens and dozens of talented young actresses. Competition for any major role is beyond fierce.
So what we are saying at the end of day, if this is something you are truly serious about, you’ll find a workshop or class, some training facility that will allow you to learn the craft of acting. If someone tells you that you don’t need classes or that all you need is a headshot, then they just don’t know how the industry really works. The expectation on young performers, regardless of age is great. The myth of overnight success is a great PR article but it’s just not reality. It may seem like the kids on Disney are overnight sensations but for the most part they have been on this journey of classes, auditioning and working for a while. Once every 4 or 5 years someone slips into a role almost by accident but in reality the stars have lined up in such a way that their personality coupled with their look and talent converge absolutely perfectly for what the producers were looking for. This is not the normal route onto TV. An inexperienced newcomer getting a big role is about as likely as winning the lottery. A more realistic example of ” overnight success” is Ashley Argota, who had been taking classes, auditioning for roles on television and commercials along with performing with the American Girl Theater show for years before getting a TV show. She worked 7 days a week on stage and was obviously already committed to this path before landing her big part.
So, if you want to be on a Disney show lets recap whats important.
Being fully invested in your training and experience. Being responsible for your school work and grades. Finding legitimate talent representation to set up auditions. Being fully prepared for those auditions when they come. Be persistent and get ready for a long journey and have FUN with acting along the way. Remember it’s all creative play. Whether we are talking about shows on Nickelodeon, NBC, AMC, HBO, Paramount, Fox Studios, etc, the above tenants will apply. I understand that this path to becoming a working young actor is not easy but if one approaches it with a full and open heart, with genuine passion and a willingness to do the work, then there is no reason you can’t move confidently in the direction of your dreams.