Preparing Your Child for a Disney Audition
Contrary to many conspiracy theorists, the kids on Disney Channel (Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, etc.) are not grown in a lab somewhere. They are kids just like your kids except they have a dream job as a member of the cast of a Disney Channel show. But they had to go through the long, drawn-out process of auditioning over and over before they were chosen just like everyone else.
Disney is very particular when trying to identify its talent. Mostly because The Walt Disney Company has come to realize that the kid they cast is much more important than simply another face on a TV show, they are ambassadors of the Disney brand. This becomes that much more important when you realize how immediately recognizable and far-reaching the Disney brand is across the globe.
So, what if your child has somehow managed to land the unique opportunity to audition for one of these shows? There are a few things you'll want to keep in mind:
There are a number of ways that your child might have been offered this opportunity. It may have come from an agent, a manager, a casting director, or possibly, one of the producers of one of the Disney Channel shows or even an executive from Disney Channel itself.
A warning: there are a number of unscrupulous people out there who are willing to take you for your money and in some cases more than that. If you have to pay for an audition, chances are you're no closer to getting your child onto a Disney Channel show than if you were to simply post your child's audition onto YouTube and hope that someone sees it.
Disney does make a point of scouring the country from time to time searching for new talent, but it would never charge someone for this service.
Additionally, be aware of agents and managers who make outlandish claims or promises to make your child the "next Disney Channel star." He/she can certainly hope to make that happen, but ultimately it will come down to whether or not your child is right for the part. The most important thing your agent or manager can tell you is that they can get you in the door of the right casting director or the right executive. Meaning, the ones who have direct access to Disney Channel.
Disney Audition Process
The process can be fairly long and drawn out. There will be multiple casting sessions that usually start with a casting associate trying to identify new talent to show to the casting director. Assuming the casting director likes what they see, they will do what is known as a "producers session." This is where the producers/writers of a show see the casting choices identified by the casting director.
Keep in mind that it's only after all of these sessions will you be sent in to meet with the Disney team. At which point there will be an initial casting session (sometimes referred to as a "network session" or "studio session") followed up by as many additional sessions as might be needed to be sure your child is the right choice for the role.
Once the Disney team, producers, and casting directors have narrowed down the selection to 3 or 4 choices, they will do what's known as a "testing session." This will be the first time you will be presented with some sort of paperwork which will contractually hold your child for the production period (to avoid them going somewhere else while Disney makes a decision). The testing session is where the final choices are made.
Be aware that ALL of your child's auditions will be videotaped. Those tapes are shared with a number of people and are often kept on file with the casting office to use as a reference.
NOTE: Your child may also have the opportunity to meet with Disney Channel on what's known as a "General Meeting" This is just an opportunity to be put in front of the Disney casting team so that they can see, meet and hear your child perform. More than likely this won't be for a particular project, but just a way for them to keep your child in mind should the right opportunity come up.