Does your child dream about becoming the next iCarly? Does she say she wants to be on Broadway? Proximity to New York City means Baristaville parents have many dramatic opportunities. But where should a parent start? Here are tips for little starlets from Heather Ballantyne, actress, acting coach and Bloomfield mother of two (at left):

First, make sure acting is something your child wants to do and not just a dream of yours. Because just like any other activity–soccer, dance, piano–your child has to want to be on stage. It takes commitment on your part, and theirs. So make sure this passion is coming from the child’s spirit and not from your dreams about money and fame. You never know if your child will hit the big time, but if that’s the sole motivation, you both will be disappointed.

That said, find a class, coach or school where your child can get comfortable getting up in front of others.

They need to have a place where they can learn about telling a story, pretend to be a character and participate in theater games that get them to use their imaginations. Look out for local auditions for community theaters and talent shows happening around town. This is a great way to get on stage with others and gain experience.

For the more serious young actors and actresses, find a manager or agent. That person should be able to send your child out for paying gigs. Remember, a legitimate talent manager or agent does not take money up front. They take anywhere between 10 and 20 percent of the job your child books. To find representation, read Call Sheet Magazine (formerly called Ross Reports) online or pick it up at Drama Book Shop on 40st Street and 8th Avenue in New York City. You can also find info and listings for union and non-union auditions in Backstage Magazine.

Auditioning should be fun whether your child gets the job or not. It’s a chance to get in front of a casting director and pretend for them. There are so many factors that go into getting a job such as age, look, race and matching up with others who are already cast. As long as your child goes into the room confident, is ready to listen to directions and can put her stamp on the material, eventually, she will get a job. It may not be the first one she auditioned for; it takes patience and perserverence.

I stress that the whole process should be fun.

Of course, it is disappointing when a child doesn’t get the part, but it’s important to keep a positive attitude. Keep going as long as you and your child are having fun and enjoying every audition for what it has to offer. You both will always come away with more knowledge and experience that can get your child one step closer to her next opportunity. Have more acting questions? Email Heather.