If you are looking for a UK agent to represent your child for photographic, commercial, acting and extra work, Bonnie and Betty is a great choice.
An Agency With A Family Image
Back in 2009, Bonnie Breen set up Bonnie and Betty Ltd, a child model, and casting agency. She had years of experience working in kids’ agencies and was eager to lead her own company. Based in London where most of the castings (auditions) take place, the agency saw increasing amounts of work available in the North of England and set up a Manchester division in 2013.
Time off for motherhood has not stopped Bonnie from growing her agency. Supported by a close team and family members, the agency now represents babies, children, teens, adults, and families. They also provide chaperoning, tutoring and child performance licence support services.
Bonnie and Betty looks to foster a family feel to the agency; it starts with the involvement of so many of Bonnie Breen’s family, develops with the chaperoning relationships with performing children, and is reflected in their Twitter feedback.
The children’s side of the agency is divided into the North (Manchester) and South (London) divisions. Children actually come from all over the UK but will belong to the division closest to their home. Children are submitted for acting and performing jobs, photographic jobs, or both areas; an agreement between the parents and agency will be reached about this at the beginning of representation.
Family feedback on the Not A Pushy Mum forum is positive. Consequently, this agency is included in our list of 20 reputable UK agencies for child actors.
The adult’s side of the agency has its own dedicated area of the website. It concentrates on the TV, film, stage and commercial areas of work.
Bonnie And Betty Provide A Lot Of Child Extras
One unusual area for child agencies that Bonnie and Betty have become known for is film extra work.
The agency regularly works under contract on big-budget and exciting feature films. They tend to be the same films where the Casting Collective provides adult extras. Major TV productions, especially with a period setting, also use their services. Bonnie and Betty receive IMDb credits for many of these productions.
For those seeking a serious acting career, extra work is of little benefit. It is poorly paid, especially the child rates; agency commission reduces the take-home pay further. There are early starts to contend with, and locations can be awkward. Extras rarely receive a credit; casting directors usually ignore prior experience as an extra.
However, children usually find extra work exciting, especially in the early stages of their performance careers. They get to be on a film set, meet other like-minded children, and sometimes meet their favourite actors.
Best of all, they are selected from photographs so they rarely have to go through the difficult and usually disappointing process of castings.
If you want your child to be put forward for child extra work only, you should consider our list of reputable UK child extra agencies.
How Do I Apply To Bonnie And Betty For My Child?
If you would like to apply to Bonnie and Betty to represent your baby or child, start by reading their FAQ page. They emphasise the last minute nature of castings, which may require you to travel at your own expense with little notice. You must be happy to do this every time you are asked; therefore do not dismiss it as something to think about later. One of our previous articles highlighted the issues to consider before seeking an agent for your child actor.
The agency’s books are closed except for a few scattered days each year. You will need to email interest on the Bonnie and Betty website. You will then be informed as soon as their books open. Alternatively, keep a close eye on their twitter feed.
When the books open, it is usually for specific ages only. Thousands of applications arrive within hours. The books close again quickly.
Make sure your application is only done online in the correct way, via their apply/join page.
Take care to submit clear, natural shots in a good light. You can take these at home. Minimise the file size or they are too big to send. Do not send in photos of your child wearing heavy makeup under any circumstances.
Finally, think carefully about your child’s skills and experience. Communicate clearly why the agency wants to meet your child.
What Happens After I Apply To Bonnie And Betty?
Despite the deluge of applications, the team aims to respond to everyone within 10 days.
The agency’s aim is to carefully select a limited number of young models and performers, ensuring submissions to casting directors fully meets each brief. They will only represent adults and children who have a real chance of gaining work. About 9 out of 10 applicants receive a rejection message. You should accept this decision without further comment.
There are many reasons why your child may not meet their criteria, including a close resemblance to children they already represent. They simply do not have time to explain each decision; nor are they a support service for parents with hurt feelings.
Modelling and acting are brutal industries full of rejection; if you cannot cope with an agency’s rejection, you are absolutely not ready to support your child through the competitive casting process for which there is only ever one winner.
If the agency wants to meet your child, they will invite you to an assessment day. The assessment session will mirror a casting session.
Your child will go into a room with a group of children to do some improvisation tasks and to deliver a short, simple performance piece which you have prepared at home. Parents will not be in the same room.
The children’s confidence and suitability for this environment will be as important as their ability to perform. Why? Because this is what casting directors look for at casting sessions.
Just over half of the children attending assessment day will receive an offer of representation. Bonnie and Betty normally inform each family of their decision within five days.
Representation And Agency Fees
Bonnie & Betty do not charge joining fees.
The agency will charge an annual fee for your child’s individual web page on their system. The fee is paid upfront for acting children, whereas it is deducted from the first earnings of solely model children. This is to comply with the law regarding modelling representation fees. The agency updates the page during the year; this includes uploading the update photographs.
You will keep your child’s page up to date with their measurements. Babies and children grow quickly; the briefs for work that come in require a very exact set of measurements. If you forget to update the measurement sheet, you risk losing that dream job for your child.
Bonnie and Betty work with selected photographers in London and Manchester. They take profile photographs of all the agency’s children each year. Parents pay the photography costs themselves. This is the normal industry practice.
Most quality acting jobs appear on the select casting website called Spotlight. Therefore, the agency registers all its acting children on Spotlight. You will pay the annual Spotlight registration fee; again, this is the standard industry practice.
When your child works, the agency will receive 25% commission for acting and commercial work, and 37.50% for modelling work.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to keep the agency updated on any date your child is unavailable. The agency will be continuously submitting your child for work without you knowing it.
Your child must attend every casting. If they don’t, it damages the agency’s reputation. Also, you prevent a casting director from considering your child for work again in the future.
Submissions For Jobs
The team tries to create a portfolio of children which means they can meet any brief coming into their office. But at the same time, they will submit a small number of carefully chosen children rather than bombard the casting director with suggestions of similar looking youngsters.
Bonnie and Betty’s Twitter feed is a busy one. Each member of the team posts their submissions that day; wishes luck to children chosen for casting; announces the children who are working that day; promotes the release of productions their children have worked on; and also quickly answers questions and compliments from parents and other followers.
Therefore, as the parent of a child represented by Bonnie and Betty, you can pick up how much work is around for a child like your own. It will also give you insight into how experienced children of particular ages will get many more castings than other children.
When a casting director wants to meet your child for an audition, the agency sends you the detailed information you need. It will give you directions to the location, and presentation tips. Included are the contact details of the casting team you will be meeting, and the measurements you will need to provide.
Only the invited child and one accompanying adult can attend the casting, to prevent crowded waiting rooms.
Furthermore, the shoot dates are communicated at the beginning, so parents don’t make other arrangements in the meantime. Whilst this all seems common sense, many agents don’t do it.
Throughout the process of casting and booked work, parents should answer emails promptly. This confirms that you received the message and that you also understood the contents.
Each year the agency reviews the children on its books, deciding whether to offer representation for a further year.
It is a waste of both the family’s and agency’s time and money if a child does not get chosen for castings; similarly, there is no point continuing if every casting goes badly.
If a family has proven to be unreliable then they have no place in an industry which demands 100% commitment all of the time. Similarly, difficult parents get a reputation with production staff and work dries up for their children.
Bonnie and Betty contact each family after the review. Representation will either continue for another year; otherwise, your contract with the agency will end. This way the agency continues to represent children only if they have a realistic chance of booking work.