When you think of stage moms, you usually picture eccentric, ranting women trying to live out their dreams through their children. We’ve all watched reality shows with mothers screaming over sequined costumes and fighting over front row seats. But is reality TV really reality? According to Tea Franklin, most momagers have manners. Words like thank you and please are a part of her daily vocabulary, because she can only make a first impression once in the entertainment industry. It’s an industry she became very familiar with when she was laid off due to budget cuts at her company. Instead of looking in the classifieds, she looked up information to start her own business managing her daughter McKenzie’s modeling and acting career. At first, she made a lot of mistakes and didn’t land any contracts. She didn’t give up or take no for an answer, and several months later, her daughter was signed to two talent agencies and auditioning for Disney. Now, Tea’s teaching other moms (and dads) how to break into the business. Diary of a First Time Mom is honored to feature has as Mom of the Week.
Are most stage moms like the women you see on TV?
Unfortunately, some reality shows have skewed the image of a stage mom to boost ratings. For the past three years, I have successfully managed my daughter’s career and never met an out-of-control mother at any of our casting calls, auditions or shoots. But, I am sure that these women (and men) exist. I just don’t define my role in my daughter’s career as the stereotypical stage mom. I’ve built my own brand from personal experiences in the entertainment business and corporate America.
You often hear of parents pocketing the money made off of their children. Do you think you deserve a cut, or will you save the earnings for her future?
A percentage of Mckenzie’s earnings is saved for her college education. The rest of the money goes into a business account for travel, wardrobe, acting classes and other career related expenses. Mckenzie does get an allowance from her account as well, for things like American Girl Place, Barbie dolls and video games. I believe that a manager works hard for their client and deserves a percentage of the earnings, but as a Momager I’d rather deposit my 10% into her savings account and surprise her when she’s 21 and ready to put a deposit down on her first home or purchase her dream car!
Why did you decide to break your daughter into the entertainment industry?
Mckenzie did a few print ads as a baby on and off, and her father modeled professionally for years. He appeared on Duke’s texturizer boxes in the 90s.
We always knew that our daughter had “the look” and would do well in the industry. But, one day she decided for herself! We were at the opening of the stage play Annie, and she jumped up during one of the songs and screamed, “Mommy I can do that. I want to be an actress and a singer!”
McKenzie’s following in her father’s footsteps. Organic Root Stimulator Hair Care just signed her for a national advertising campaign.
Do you think show business will eventually break her spirit? We’ve all heard child star horror stories. Do you have second thoughts about your daughter pursuing fame and fortune at such a young age?
I have taught Mckenzie the power of prayer, a belief in God’s perfect timing and the belief that what God has for us it is for us. So no, I have never considered a broken spirit when I think of her future! I have also never questioned moving forward when it comes to Mckenzie pursuing her dreams because of the foundation that we have built for her through support, love and faith in God. We know that in this industry you will definitely hear the word no more than yes, so we approach each audition with the attitude that we are happy to be chosen to show them our talent.
Would you ever force your daughter to do something?
No, I am her mother first and her manager second. I always have her best interest at heart. If she is not passionate about a project, we pass on it. Her happiness is my top priority. If at any point she decides that this is not what she wants to do, that is something that I will support 100%.
We’ve all seen kids cursing or acting inappropriate on TV and in movies. Have you set any audition standards for your daughter? Are there any roles you will turn down?
Mckenzie has been taught to approach each opportunity as a professional and to conduct herself as a lady at all times. She knows that the same manners and respect that we expect from her at home are also the same standards that we expect on a movie set, photo shoot or audition. I always tell her to leave a great impression with everyone, because you never know what other projects they may be working on in the future. Our goal is for them to think of Mckenzie first when casting for roles. In terms of turning down a role, fortunately all of the scripts we are given are age appropriate. I have not had to cross that bridge yet.
Why types of opportunities are you currently pursuing for your child?
My goal when I started managing Mckenzie was to prepare her enough through classes, training and industry experience that she would be able to audition for the Disney Channel. We had that opportunity in May. Out of 3,000 children who auditioned, sixty received call backs and Mckenzie was one of them! So we are keeping our fingers crossed!
What are some audition do’s and don’ts?
Don’t arrive late.
Don’t come unprepared.
Don’t forget to thank the person who auditioned you.
Don’t ever walk off the set.
Do conduct yourself as a professional and be respectful of others.
Do relax and have fun! This is your moment to shine!
Do focus on doing your best and booking the job!
Do respect the craft and take it seriously so as not to waste a client’s time and money.
The entertainment business can take a toll on your ego. It’s very judgmental. How do you ensure your child’s self-esteem isn’t lowered?
Everyday, I tell her that she is smart and beautiful, and that daddy and I love her to pieces and are proud of her. She knows that she can do anything she wants in the entertainment industry and in life if she works hard and puts her mind to it! With that kind of support at home, nothing she hears outside of home will ever affect her self-esteem, drive or ego!
To find out how to make your child a star, log onto McKenzie’s MoM.