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It takes more than talent

A talent scout offers advice for future child stars

INWOOD, W.Va. — New York talent scout Peter Sklar says there is a secret to becoming a child star: be self-confident and healthy.

There's also another secret: Not everyone becomes a star.

"The truth is that SAG (the Screen Actors Guild) says that 98 percent of its members are unemployed at any given time," he said in a telephone interview from New York. "... These are people who have (performed) on Broadway."

Preparing aspiring actors, singers and dancers for the harsh realities of show business is what Sklar hopes to do with his free lecture "So You Want To Be a Star ..."

The event begins at 6 p.m. Friday at Inwood Performing Arts Company.

Sklar's track record indicates that he knows what it takes to help young actors move on to careers they want. His clients include Academy Award-winner Reese Witherspoon and Golden Globe-winner Sarah Jessica Parker.

The son of a teacher and a principal, Sklar began by setting up showcases in New York City. Today, with 40 years experience, Sklar lectures and leads Beginnings workshops in New York, Hollywood and London.

Sklar said what aspiring actors need to know is that looking and feeling healthy are just as significant as talent.

"Casting people are paid a lot of money to sit and decide what kind of person will be cast for these roles. They know if something's believable or not. If it's not real, not believable, they're going to hate it," he said.

A plastered-on smile is one thing, Sklar explained. "But you can't fake the vibrancy in the eyes," he said.

Being hydrated, not skipping breakfast, not overindulging in sweets and being active are vital lessons to learn early, Sklar said.

Self-esteem is just as important, he said. The business can be rough on children, because it takes a lot of calls to land one job. "(Casting agents) usually don't say, 'Very nice. Very talented. Here's a job.'"

Tips on health and self-esteem are for more than just aspiring actors. That's why, Sklar said, he hopes those ages 12 to 15, especially, come to the lecture to learn how living healthy and being self-confident can help them in all aspects of life.

No one younger than 6 will be permitted at the event; and no one younger than 18 will be admitted without his or her own mother, father or legal guardian.

Sklar said substitute nonlegal adult guardians are not permissible. He emphasized these rules are firm.

Although it can be a tough go in show business, Sklar said teens should take the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

"You don't want to wake up at 35 and think 'It's too late,'" he said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Peter Sklar on "So You Want To Be a Star"

WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday, March 27

WHERE: Inwood Performing Arts Company, 2297 Henshaw Road, Inwood, W.Va.

COST: Free

CONTACT: Call 304-229-3209, reservations encouraged

MORE: No one younger than 6 will be admitted; no one younger than 18 will be admitted without his or her mother, father or legal guardian.

EVEN MORE: For information about Peter Sklar, visit

Peter Sklar


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