LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) – A New York talent scout for child performers said experts in the agency know within minutes if someone has star potential.
Peter Sklar has worked with several aspiring child actors who have gone on to achieve fame, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon and Mischa Barton. Those actresses were just beginning their careers when they began working with him.
Sklar, who said he is skilled at reading people, said those actresses, and others that have been in the spotlight, have the “it factor” that scouts are looking for.
“Anybody who interviews professionally, including casting directors, if you surveyed them and you said to them, ‘How soon do you know whether or not this is someone that you’re interested in?’ They’ll tell you before they even get their full body in the door,” he said.
Sklar is now taking his expertise to Lisbon, Ohio, where he will give a free lecture for aspiring teen dancers, singers, actors and their parents.
He said the lecture will touch on what scouts are looking for in young performers, how to avoid scams and why being mentally and physically health is so important.
And what sets a child apart from another? Sklar said that has a lot to do with self-confidence and having a real sense of self.
“In terms of marketability… their willingness to be open and say, ‘Yes, this is who I am. This is the real me.’ That’s probably the most important part of marketability,” he said. “That’s even more important than talent and training. The ability to be real, to be open, and ultimately, of course, to be likable and believable.”
He said the physical health aspect is also important for a child who is considering getting into the spotlight.
“When kids don’t feel well physically, when they don’t take care of themselves, that shows too, and that’s something they have to overcome,” he said.
For a child looking to make the jump to the big screen — or the big stage — Sklar said it is important for families to make sacrifices. Ninety percent of casting occurs in New York or Los Angeles, so it’s unlikely that someone will land a major gig in Ohio.
“If you can’t make it to the auditions on a moments notice… you can’t get the jobs,” he said.
He warned against companies that promise to market a child without that child making an appearance at any auditions.
In the meantime, he encouraged parents to sign their children up for local theater, acting and dance classes, if they show an interest in performance. Those things give children great experience for a future career.
“The Sklar Principle” lecture is open to those ages 7 and older. No one under the age of 18 will be admitted without a parent (attending with a temporary guardian, such as a friend’s parent, will not be permitted).
The lecture will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Trinity Playhouse, located at 234 E. Lincoln Way in Lisbon.
There is no charge for admission, but reservations are strictly required. Reservations can be made by calling (330) 831-7249.
Sklar has a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, formal training in concert piano at The Juilliard School of Music and decades of experience in the industry, being featured in The New York Times, E! True Hollywood Story and Good Morning America.