"Why doesn't Best run an agency?"
Well, we do get asked this from time to time so it bears discussion.
When we started Best we wanted to create a group where all children were on a totally level playing field. From the outset we decided that forming an agency would create a two- tiered system and would be precisely what we DIDN'T want. There'd be those represented who were working, those represented who DIDN'T get the roles, those who weren't represented (er...three tiers...!) and wished they were and those who weren't represented and glad of it (four tiers - that's a lot of tiers). It just creates a divide.
We try and avoid anything which says to any child they are better (or worse) than another. Stagecoach, for example, select a couple of students from most schools to go on to their 'national' show. We don't have a problem with that, it's just not what we want at Best.
It has been strongly suggested by some parents that we reconsider the agency thing. Again it's just not our style, but we are investigating whether we might create an alliance with an agency we could at least pass our students on to if they genuinely wanted to try and find work.
What do we think about children working in the business? Well, it's not what we wanted for ours but when you have a child who clearly loves every second of it, and when you have a parent who supports them in the business through love rather than any desire for vicarious glory, then it seems to work fine.We do have students who work and that's fine and without exception they have all done a brilliant job - we just don't make too big a deal out of it.
Also many children are unaware of what kind of sacrifices and commitments need to be made - school, time, friends and so on.
So, finally, what do we think makes a child successful? That really is a tricky one. Next time you come to a Best show, look across the groups and you'll see one or two who are just 'on it' (as we thesps say). They are totally focused, concentrating and filling each moment on stage with energy. That's a huge part of it. Also it's important to be polite, to listen and to remember what you've been asked to do from one day to the next. The mum of one of our working Best kids said to us =that she thought her daughter had been cast because wshe was precisley what Best was all about - being herself, being polite, listening and doing what she was asked with loads of energy. She wasn't 'pushy' or 'showbizzy' - just herself. That was a nice thing to hear (thanks D*****!)
But to be honest most often it's whether you look right (not nice, or big, or small, or round, or square, or blonde or brown haired, or tall, or short)... just 'right' for that role. There's nothing you can do about this but it is the main cause of rejection and is so hard for young ones to understand.
It's a hard enough business for experienced adults, let alone children!