Jennia Fredrique had it all planned out. Her seven-year-old son Genis would get an education and when he turned 17 or 18 years old he’d be allowed to enter the entertainment business.
Jennia is a working actress, fresh off the heels of shooting a pilot with Whoopi Goldberg for ABC. In addition to that, she’s been in countless TV commercials and sitcom guest spots, so she knows firsthand what being in the business entails.
Only thing is, Genis had other plans. Going to that performing arts school really gave him the acting bug so one day he turned to his mom and said, “I know what I wanna do with my life. I wanna be an actor.”
“Okay,” she said, thinking nothing of it.
Then two hours later she gets a call from a friend who is sitting next to Lee Daniels. He just showed Daniels Genis’s picture and now they want him to audition for a role on a new show he’s casting.
After giving it some thought and prayer–hey, a mom can’t just throw her plan away that easily–they send in the audition tape. The next day they’re being flown from Los Angeles to Chicago. He got the gig. He’s going to be on a show called Empire.
In no time, he’s shooting one of the most notorious scenes in TV history. Lucius (Terrence Howard), outraged that his young son might be gay, dumps him in a garbage can. Oh, no he didn’t!
And just like that, Genis has a warm space in our hearts and a recurring role on the number one television show in America.
Was it luck? Fate? Looking back on it today, Jennia is able to identify some key steps she’s been taking with Genis. Steps she believes helped prepare him for this opportunity. One thing we do know is there are many roads to Rome. Read on as Jennia shares tips on how to prepare your kid for the entertainment business.
1. Listen to your kids. They have their own thoughts and opinions. What we want for them is not always what they want for themselves, so sometimes we may have to get out of the way.
2. Encourage them to love the craft. If you love what you’re doing it doesn’t matter if you’re getting acclaim or recognized. School plays, performances in the house, writing is all important.
3. Expose them to great work. Genis and I watch documentaries and movies with great performances- on his level, of course. We talk about what Jim Carey did with his character in The Grinch. We talk about Walt Disney and Jim Henson who created the Muppets.
4. Don’t push. Kids can love the craft but if we push it we could give them a negative feeling towards it. It’s not necessary to move to LA and introduce them to a world of cattle calls, unless your kid is that determined and focused. And only you know that.
5. See the greatness in your kid. They respond to our vision of them, positive or negative. My son is very rambunctious so when I see his beauty and light I notice that it softens him.
6. Encourage them to think outside the box. Every world leader and game changer started off as a kid. Let your kid dream. It goes beyond acting and the business. Genis has a blog called French Toast With Chopsticks from a dream he had. Encourage them to go for it!
7. Give lots of hugs. I call myself a ‘Bad Mutha Hugga.’ We have scientific proof that hugging releases depression and anxiety. It brings forth security, strengthens the bond, creates confidence. You can never give them enough.