Cathrine Versfeld explored the world of child actors in South Africa and found the adorable tot behind the character of little Karmen Meintjies in 7de Laan!
When we see children in movies, or on regular television shows, it seems incredible that these little people can stay in character and give us the consistent personas from their scripts. In everyday life, we encounter any number of television ads and radio clips that include children. Although it’s not surprising to see an eight- or nine-year-old hold their own in a Coke commercial, it seems almost magical when a child as young as two or three delivers a perfect line on-screen. As any parent of a toddler will tell you, it’s hard enough to get them to say please and thank you!
How Do Children Become Actors?
There are many casting agencies that specialise in child performers in South Africa. Most of the acting work involves television commercials or photographic work for print advertisements. The agencies are based mainly in Johannesburg and Cape Town, where most of the filming industry operates. Typically, parents can simply register their child directly on a website and submit photographs or headshots. Some agencies will request that parents bring their children for on-site photographing and training. Most agencies request a fee for registering, training and archiving the photos, although it is generally a small amount and all-inclusive.
Once a child is on the database at a specific agency, they will put forward the information and photographs of that child when a film company requests them. Casting agencies do their best to match the requested physical descriptions with the actors on their database. If a specific child has been selected by the film or marketing company, the agency will contact the parents and tell them where and when the shoot will take place.