With her strawberry blonde hair, engaging smile and outgoing personality, Ella Rouhier at 5 has become a favorite child model across a variety of media, including print, packaging, in-store, online and TV. This past year Ella broke into acting with the completion of three commercial assignments, the most recent a nationwide spot for K-Mart's Blue Light' Easter dress special. She will soon appear on the packaging for Target Stores new ultimate dollhouse, and in the Land of Nod children's' furniture catalog. She is currently featured in Parenting Magazine in an advertisement for H&M Stores nationwide, and will be shown throughout that company's 2008 summer camp catalog and website. She appears on the Sprout TV website and in an advertisement in the money section of Forbes magazine.
A model since she was just a year old, Ella follows in the footsteps of her nine year old brother August, a former child model and actor. In addition, Ella's grandparents worked in the film industry in NYC and her mom Te-see became a model before moving to Los Angeles in 1992 to pursue acting. These experiences helped to guide Ella's career. It's a tough business, Ella's mom Te-see Rouhier says, but I know how to deal with it. Te-see is adamant that, as a child, Ella should enjoy what she does. It's not a business for Ella. I handle the business end, she remarks. It's fun for her. She leads a typical life for a child her age, is important to us. She goes to school, plays with friends, and loves to sing, dance and perform.
A Powerful New Resource, Children in Film
Recently Te-see discovered a powerful new resource, Children in Film (CIF), that is making it a lot easier for her to manage Ella's career. The comprehensive social networking website, which provides child actors, parents and industry professionals with tools and information they need to conduct business, is also helping to expand job opportunities for Ella. I only wish the CIF site had been available when Ella first started out, Te-see comments. A friend introduced her to CIF when an assignment for Hanna Andersson, a leading children's catalog, was on the line Te-see needed to renew Ella's work permit at the last minute.
Informed by her agency that Ella could not work without the required permit, Te-see knew there had to be a solution. Call Children In Film, her friend urged, they'll know what to do. In addition to information on state-by-state child labor laws, industry rules, and educational requirements, CIF offers work permit and talent search services, casting call postings, service provider ratings, and how-to guides for newcomers to the entertainment industry. As a secure, profile-based social network', the site allows members to connect with each other, and to share information via a Forum that helps them navigate through the entertainment business.
A visit to Children in Film's website provided Te-see with a contact number. I went online, got the number and called. Their representative told me, Don't worry, you can get an emergency permit. But you're going to have to go there, and the producer is going to have to fax a letter.' It was easily taken care of, Te-see notes. She was pleased when Children In Film could also resolve another issue involving a modeling job for her son August. I received a letter from the Los Angeles Office of Finance saying we owed money, which I knew was not correct. Children in Film put us in touch with a tax professional with relevant experience in the entertainment field. He helped us settle the issue in a few minutes.
Everything a Parent Needs to Know, and More
Initially, Te-see signed up for CIF's free Basic Membership, which gave her limited profile space, one photo posting, and access to basic site information and a newsletter. Because Ella was later chosen as a winner of CIF's photo of the month contest, Te-see became eligible for free lifetime Enhanced Membership, allowing her to take advantage of the full services of CIF's multi-functional web portal and social network. As an Enhanced Member, Te-see now has access to all of CIF's rich content, which includes an easy-to-use Resume Builder'; online posting of a bio and complete resume, as well as multiple headshots or portfolio photos; a robust database of direct referrals to industry professionals such as talent agents, managers and photographers, as well as ratings of those service providers by other members; casting notices and automatic email alerts about casting calls; and direct contact with CIF industry experts and counselors when needed.
For Te-see, one of the CIF website's most useful features is the service provider rating system. The user ratings really save time and effort by helping you find the agency or photographer, or whatever service you may need, that is exactly right for your child. Having other people's input is extraordinarily helpful, she says. She also has discovered that the CIF onsite resume and photo posting have opened up new opportunities for Ella. I've had a number of talent and casting agencies contact me about Ella, just from seeing her picture and reading her bio on the website. The added exposure is a real bonus, she remarks.
Te-see also likes the fact that she is automatically alerted by email about casting calls that might be appropriate for Ella. Although she uses the services of a leading talent agency, Te-see likes to be advised of opportunities that the agency might have overlooked or which Te-see believes are outside the scope of roles the agency has targeted for Ella. It gives me another level of control, and gives Ella even greater exposure, which is a key to success in this business, she says.
A Single Source for All Industry Needs
For parents who are involved in or want to get their children into the entertainment business, Te-see advises, Go check out the Children in Film website. It is a terrific, one stop resource for everything you need, and more. For just .99 a month, parents can launch their kids into the industry in the past, it could cost in excess of a thousand dollars just to get started. It is well worth it.