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Mom! I Want to Be a Star

Mom! I Want to Be a Star

by Irene Dreayer


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This is the ultimate show-biz how-to guide for aspiring kids and their parents, written by Hollywood’s number-one kid-talent expert and executive producer for Disney, ABC, and the WB, Irene Dreayer (“the Dray”). As a thirty-year veteran of discovering kid stars and producing hit TV shows such as the Disney Channel’s The Suite Life on Deck and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, as well as several TV movies, Dreayer has seen hundreds of kids try to make it in show business. Most parents and kids don’t understand the steps or how to navigate the ins and outs of the industry. Most make critical mistakes.
As Hollywood’s only trusted career coach for kid talent, Irene Dreayer developed the Dray Way ( as her proven method for guiding show-biz kids and their parents on how to audition correctly, how to handle the business side, and how to deal with issues such as image and rejection. The Dray Way is her method for working with kids and training parents on how to pursue this business we call show in a strategic manner, the right way.
This book is designed as a workbook for parents and kids to do together. Every chapter explains, informs, and delivers the honest truth about specific aspects of the entertainment business and outlines the crucial information kids and parents need to learn as a family. Some chapters are designed exclusively for parents, but most are a family affair. The exercises in each chapter are to be completed by parents and kids in order to learn the skills required to be a better actor, singer, or dancer.
Mom! I Want to Be a Star is entertaining, fun to read, and a wonderful opportunity for families to explore together their child’s dream and desire to become a star.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781497669901
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 07/01/2014
Pages: 133
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Irene Dreayer (“the Dray”) is Hollywood’s number-one kid-talent expert and trusted career coach for kid talent. She’s a thirty-year veteran of family programming, having produced six hundred hours of network TV and discovered some of the biggest kid stars in the business. The Dray is a longtime executive producer for the Disney Channel, the WB, and ABC Family. She executive produced the longest-running show on the Disney Channel, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, as well as The Suite Life on Deck, and discovered the shows’ stars, Dylan and Cole Sprouse. Dreayer also discovered current Style Network stars Tia and Tamera Mowry as tweens to star in the WB series Sister, Sister, which she executive produced for seven seasons. Ms. Dreayer has also produced several TV movies, including the Suite Life on Deck movie for the Disney Channel, Legally Blonde with Reese Witherspoon for MGM, Disney Channel, and ABC Family, and Desperately Seeking Santa for ABC Family. 

Read an Excerpt

Mom! I Want to Be a Star!

By Irene Dreayer


Copyright © 2014 Irene Dreayer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-6348-0


Is Becoming a Star Your Dream or Your Parents' Dream?

Act 1, Scene 1, Fade in, open on a young child sitting on a bench ready to begin his or her first scene. The director, a.k.a. "The Dray", yells, "CUT! STOP! Before we start, I need to know: WHOSE DREAM IS THIS?"

Kids, if becoming a star is something you really want, then this book will help you in making your dream come true. If this is your parents' dream for you, then you need to speak up and tell your parents your feelings NOW. In one of my Skype sessions, a mom, sitting next to her daughter, told me that she wanted the same career path for her daughter as Meryl Streep. Mom began by saying, "I want her to be engrossed in every acting class possible; I want her to start with drama because I think that is what she should be doing; I want her to get to the finish line with all the Oscar nominations and wins like Meryl." I then asked the daughter if this was what she wanted. The daughter replied, "I don't know if I want to do this for the rest of my life. I enjoy doing it now because it is fun!" The mom's dreams for her daughter were crushed. The mom then leaned closer and said in a whisper, "I want to Skype with you personally because I want to be an actress too!" Really??? Duh! Ya think? I saw that one coming!

If you are certain that becoming a star is not your dream , then close the book and go walk the dog. If you can honestly say that mom and dad aren't making you do this, then keep reading.

I've worked with many kids and their parents and sometimes, the parents' dream for their child is for them to enter the show business world. Do your parents want you to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher or work in the family business, and you want to become a singer, dancer or actor? The same happened with Jennifer Lopez. Her mom wanted her to be a lawyer, but Jennifer had her heart set on becoming a singer and a dancer. If she had followed her mom's dream, where would JLo be now? Not an "American Idol" judge, a recording artist or a movie star! She followed her dream, not her mom's.

You might not know with 100% certainty at your age, that being an entertainer is what you want as a career. Bradley, a young future star I met during an in-person coaching session, had a father and grandfather who were both doctors. The parents assumed that their son would follow the same path. Bradley began studying to become a doctor, and he realized this was not his dream. He left medical school and said to his parents, "I've got to dance!" Currently he is working with a dance group he created called "The Groovaloos" that perform all over the country.

Let's assume you are not in a similar situation as Jennifer and Bradley, and you have your heart set on being a star along with the support of your parents. First, you have to identify what your dream is. Do you want to be a singer, dancer, actor, musician, director, producer, writer, stand-up comic or work behind the camera? Whether it is in show business or as a doctor, lawyer, teacher or fireman, you need to work diligently at your craft in order to make your dreams come true. Are you willing to do the work? And don't say yes if you don't mean it, because you will find yourself in situations out of your comfort zone. You need to devote time to explore anything possible to help you fulfill your dream. Be prepared to work and get to that finish line!

As you watch one of your favorite shows on TV, do you say, "Not only can I do that, but I really want to do that ... and I can do it better?" Then, you must work on practicing your craft as much as you can and anywhere you can, such as school and church performances, Community Theater, karaoke, parades, carnivals, group lessons, improv classes ... anything that gives you practice and experience.

Mom, Dad, your child cannot pursue their dream without your help and approval. Are you ready to gas up the car, put on your "taxi driver" hat and open your wallet?

The experience and desire is important and necessary, but you need more than that, you need a solid foundation. I always tell kids, "You can't build on wet sand." Translation: To get closer to your dream, you must have a solid foundation along with the talent, the desire, the devotion, the training and the experience. You are going to school and taking classes in math, language arts, history and science to give you a foundation in life. To enter "the school of show business", you must also continue taking classes, no moaning allowed!

Mom, Dad, your child will need your assistance and support in signing up for the right classes, and you will have to manage the schedule between school, training and performances. Your child's dream requires a family effort.

Today's stars require working in all disciplines: singing, dancing and acting. Singers need to take, not only vocal lessons, but also dance classes even if you have two left feet. This increases your lung capacity to give you stamina to hit those high notes like Beyonce and also teaches you how to move naturally like Justin Bieber and Dalton Cyr. Dalton, singer-songwriter, is a Dray Kid winner who took some private dance classes in L.A. with Kanec, a dancer for Justin Bieber, Usher and Chris Brown. Check out Dalton's moves!

Acting classes are just as important for all singers in order to connect with your audience and to portray the emotion of the song. And in a video, you know, we all can see you! Practice writing your own songs to create a catalogue of original material. Songwriting develops your voice and your point of view as an artist. Learn how to read music. Pick up an instrument like a guitar, piano, cello, harmonica, bongos or the didgeridoo and continue voice lessons.

Dancers need to take a variety of different styles of dance classes: hip-hop, jazz, contemporary, ballroom, ballet or tap in order to be diversified. Dancers find more opportunities when they are capable of performing any dance. I dreamed of being a dancer myself when I first came to L.A. I auditioned once for a TV special. But, oy, I was way out of my league because I wasn't as prepared as I needed to be. I then realized, "You teach what you need to learn." Acting classes are also vital in the dancer's world. You need to know how to enhance your emotions when dancing ... just watch Melanie and Sasha from the popular show "So You Think You Can Dance."

Actors should also enroll in diverse acting classes such as: scene study, cold reading, commercial, comedy, drama, voice-over, theater and improv. I also took acting classes, and I learned so much, which contributed tremendously to my work as an Executive Producer and coaching kids. There are as many kinds of acting classes, as there are different kinds of roles. Actors should take singing lessons. It helps your ability to control your breathing and to give you lung power when delivering a big passionate speech as well as a joke with a big punch line. But, you are not done yet. Actors should also take dance classes in order to learn how to move naturally. You definitely don't want to stand there with your hands in your pockets nor do you want to look like you are playing charades as you say the lines.

If stand-up comedy is your dream, write your own jokes that are based on your personal life experiences. There is a lot of funny in truth. The most successful TV, movie and stand-up comedians base their material on life experiences that happen to them. The funniest things you can write about come from your friends, your school, your family, your relatives and even your crazy dog. This is how audiences connect with you and if your stories are funny, you'll have them ROTF and LMHO! A funny thing happened on the way to middle school ...

I know, from discovering stars on the Disney Channel, that everyone is looking for that "triple threat," a performer who can sing, dance and act. But, there is nothing wrong with excelling in just one area. You need to identify what you do best because it's better to be good at one thing than mediocre at three. And finally, you don't have to be great at that one thing, you just need to be good ALL THE TIME! And dream big, but make sure it's your dream!

Mom, Dad, it's now your turn to answer: Is this your dream for your child to be a star? Are you pushing your child to be what you want them to be? Can you look at yourself in the mirror with complete honesty and say, "This is not MY dream?"

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, whose dream is it after all?" Maybe you are hesitating to answer. Maybe you are not absolutely sure. Maybe you just don't want to admit it. Read about other parents I have dealt with and their situations. Complete the exercise in this chapter to help you realize whose dream it actually is.

When I begin a Skype session with someone new, the mom or dad or both are always there for this first session. We, of course, introduce ourselves and then I ask my initial question to the child, "Is this your dream or your parents' dream?"

During one of my Skype sessions, every time I asked the girl a question, her Mom answered. She didn't give her daughter an opportunity to answer herself, regardless of the question. When I asked the girl, "Are you taking any acting or music classes?" Mom answered. "How long have you been singing?" Mom answered. "Whose music do you listen to?" Mom answered. "Do you write your own music?" Mom answered. "Are you more comfortable with drama or comedy?" Mom answered. When Mom never let her child speak or answer questions, it was evident that this dream belonged to Mom. Mom was so anxious and in such a hurry to fulfill her own dream for her daughter that she never allowed her daughter to dream for herself. The red light went on! I told the mom, "Stop! I need to hear your daughter answer. Whose dream is this? Yours or your daughter's?" Mom finally stepped aside, and I started all over again asking the daughter the questions without mom's interference.

It's not always Moms. I've seen Dads also answer the questions for their son or daughter. A 9-yr old girl had an in-person session with her Mom and Dad seated behind me. Facing the girl, I began to ask her my questions. The daughter was attempting to speak and began to open her mouth when, from behind me came the answers. It seemed like the dad was the ventriloquist and his daughter was his puppet. At first, this cracked me up, since it seemed that this father-daughter performance was rehearsed. But then, I politely told the dad, "If you don't stop answering for your daughter, I'll have to ask you to wait outside." Dad was quiet and for the first time, his daughter had a big smile on her face!

Mom, Dad, kids ... I'm glad you are still reading and now I have a couple of assignments for you. Grab a pencil and paper ... you too Dad ... and let's do our homework.

Please watch these Drayism videos before proceeding to the exercises in this chapter:

Exercise #1

Kids, make a list of 10 things YOU want to do in your life; what you want to accomplish with your education, your career, your family or your lifelong dreams. Then, have your parents make a list of 10 things THEY want YOU to do in your life. You can have them create this list together or have Mom and dad each make a separate list without conferring with each other. Go in separate rooms so nobody peeks at the others' answers! Now, compare and discuss your list with your parents' list. Find the similarities and differences between what they dream for you and what your own dreams are.

How did you do? If you all still have that common dream, then the next exercise is for the kids...although you might need Mom and Dad to help you remember the agony and defeat of learning some of these skills!

Exercise #2

If this is YOUR dream kids, are you ready to work to make your dream a success? Are you prepared to put forth the repeated effort it takes to successfully perform a song, dance, monologue or musical piece? How many times do you need to practice for that one performance? The same is true for any skill in your life.

Write down approximately how many times you had to work at the following skills in order to master each one? Was it once, two times, 3, 4, 5 or more?


Tie your shoe
Do a somersault
Master the hula-hoop
Ride a bike
Ride a skateboard
Type without looking
Dive into a pool
Shoot a free throw
Memorize a monologue
Memorize a song
Learn a dance

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!! Whether it's a complicated gymnastic trick, a dance routine, a song or a monologue, if it is your dream, you must work at it repeatedly to achieve success.

Dwight Howard, star center on the Orlando Magic basketball team, guest-starred on "The Suite Life on Deck." All his life he dreamed of being a great basketball player, and he achieved that dream by constantly practicing his sport. Dwight had another long-time dream of becoming an actor and is successfully pursuing that dream today.

So, let's continue pursuing your dream. Think of me as your team coach! We'll discuss strategies, read game plans, have practices and do exercises to score big, win the game and bring home that "Most Valuable Player" award!

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. - Walt Disney


L.A. Is Not Where You Start; It's Where You End Up

If tennis is your game, you wouldn't go to Wimbledon as your first competition. If you are a basketball player, your first game wouldn't be up against Kobe Bryant. If you want to be a world-famous chef, your first attempt in the kitchen would not be against Wolfgang Puck. When you first come to Hollywood, you cannot expect to land a leading role with George Clooney in a major motion picture as your first job.

Before you even consider packing your suntan lotion and coming to L.A., it is imperative that you have exhausted all the resources available to you in your home town. You have taken classes in all areas of acting, singing and dancing at the highest level available to you. You have performed at multiple venues throughout your surrounding area. You have outgrown what your current agents and managers can do for you. Now, you are ready to go to the next level. Hollywood here you come!

I hear all the time, "My daughter performs for friends and family in our living room. They say she is fabulous and should be in show business." Mom, being fabulous in front of 20 people in your living room is not the same as performing in front of 20 million people in their living rooms. A standing ovation by your family of your child's rendition of "Tomorrow" from "Annie" does not mean you are ready to be in show business. It's very different when you audition in front of casting directors and producers than performing in front of grandma and grandpa shouting, "She's a star!"

Kids, first of all, it has to be your dream, and your dream only. Trust me, there's more to being a star than just dreaming about it. You have to be fully prepared and immerse yourself in everything that is needed to make that happen. You need to be on a stage, any stage, such as school plays, community theater, your church, your synagogue or any opportunity where you can perform in front of an audience. Competition can be fierce. As mentioned in chapter one, in addition to acting lessons, you should also take singing and dancing lessons, even though your dream is just to be an actor. Singing and dancing lessons improve an actor's breathing, voice control, stamina and movement on stage. Don't come to L.A. to take your first class. Remember, get your feet wet at home before your try the high dive in Hollywood!

When you are planning to go to college, it is the same approach. You spend your entire school years preparing for college. How do you do that? You choose the best schools, the most challenging classes, varied extra-curricular activities, and you work hard to get the best grades to be accepted into the college of your choice. So, use this approach of preparation and training as if you were planning to attend the "University of Hollywood!"

Mom, Dad, are you prepared? Are you ready to change your entire life? Do you realize this will affect everyone emotionally, financially, logistically and psychologically. There are decisions to be made that affect the entire family. You need to decide on living arrangements before you get off the plane. Research what would be the most feasible housing, both financially and emotionally. You could rent an apartment or house, furnished or unfurnished, mooch on friends or relatives or drive your motor home to L.A. If you have a job that you can do anywhere, that's a plus. Another option that many consider is for one parent and their child to come to L.A., while the rest of the family remains home. You need to have a family meeting to communicate and discuss what this move would mean emotionally for your child. This will mean leaving their friends, brothers or sisters, schoolmates, teachers, pets and the parent who stayed home. Parents, it is your responsibility to insure they are OK with this. This decision involves everyone, so make certain the entire family is on board.


Excerpted from Mom! I Want to Be a Star! by Irene Dreayer. Copyright © 2014 Irene Dreayer. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


1. Is Becoming A Star Your Dream Or Your Parents' Dream?,
2. L.A. Is Not Where You Start; It's Where You End Up,
3. Parents, You Are The CEO,
4. Parents, Don't Be A Nightmare,
5. Parents, Run From Scams,
6. Rejection - Let's Rename It,
7. It's Not How You Look But How You Feel You Look,
8. Keep Yourself Focused When Acting,
9. Show Fear The Door,
10. Memorizing Is Not Acting; Are You Believable?,
11. Bigger & Louder Do Not Make You A Better Actor,
12. Act Don't Point,
13. Ya Gotta Speak Clearly,
14. Can You Find The Joke?,
15. Don't Make Excuses For A Bad Performance,
16. 14 Should Look 14,
17. I'd Rather Have A Slow 'Yes' Than A Fast 'No',
18. Easy to Get In The Door, Harder To Get Back In,
19. Success Is Not Permanent,
20. Final Thoughts From The Dray,
21. GLOSSARY – definition of industry terms & lingo,

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