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Kids with stars in their eyes

DAVID and Victoria Beckham are one of the most photographed couples on the planet, so it is little wonder that their children seem completely at home in the spotlight.

IN FACT, their second son, Romeo (10), pictured right, is so relaxed with publicity that he has just become the face of Burberry Kids – modelling clothes and grinning at the camera as if he is having the most fun in the world. With his fashion-designer mother and footballer father, his ease in front of the lens is not surprising, but how does the average child become a model or actor and what is life really like for them?We spoke to the parents of some of Ireland's budding stars to find out how they got into the industry and what it feels like to be in the limelight.

Brooke Butler is six. Both she and her sister Kerrie (10) have been acting and modelling since they were three and already have a healthy portfolio. Parents Maria (a playschool teacher) and Andy (a solicitor) are encouraging of their daughter's ambitions but would never put them into the limelight against their will.

"Both girls have been in a stage school called Centre Stage, Santry, since they were three," says Maria, from Swords. "It was their dance teacher who suggested putting them with an agency, so we joined Young Artists. Brooke did her first TV commercial for Smyths toys at three and Kerrie did some work at RTE for the children's programme Kazoo at four.

"They both enjoy being in front of the camera and Brooke is a real show-off who loves to sing and dance. I wouldn't allow them do it if they didn't enjoy it.

"It doesn't really disrupt our lives but sometimes it can involve an hour off school here and there and I'm not always thrilled at driving across town for auditions, but it's worth it just to see the excitement on their faces."

Kian Murphy is 12. He lives with his mum Natalie in central Dublin and although he is still in primary school, has begun to make a name for himself on television.

"Kian started acting in September 2010 in a performing arts class and he loved it so much that he has moved on to bigger and better things," says Natalie, who works as a legal secretary. "His dad passed away in 2007, so it's just the two of us and he likes being the centre of attention, so acting really suited him as he is full of confidence.

"I had put him into other activities, such as basketball and football, but he never really took to them the way he did with acting, so I knew that this was something he really wanted to do.

"In 2011, he did a shoot with Damo and Ivor from Republic Of Telly which wasn't aired, but the experience of taking part influenced Kian so much that he wanted to carry on. He is now in the middle of doing a children's programme called Roy for the CBBC (it will also be shown on RTE) and he loves every minute of it.

"He is also working on a little project which he does on Saturdays in conjunction with Uniquely Dublin. "Although his work isn't disruptive, it can be tiring as he sometimes has to be up very early and doesn't get home until late, but it is all worth it when I see the smile on his face and the lovely personality he is developing.

"I can definitely see him as an actor as this is all he has ever dreamed of – but he is only 12, so I'm going to let him keep going the way he is and then, hopefully, when he has finished school, he will go to college and study drama – and who knows after that."

Vincent Lambe is the director of Young Artists Management. He says there is great scope for child models and actors in Ireland.

"The majority of work for child models and actors in Ireland would be for TV commercials," he says. "Ireland has a very good industry and there are commercials casting children almost every week.

"This is a big part of our business and our clients have featured in lots of commercials for a wide range of brands.

"Apart from this, there are also quite a few feature films and TV dramas casting children. At the moment, our clients are attending auditions for three different feature films and two of our clients (James O'Donoghue and Kacey Wallace) play on-going characters in Fair City and they are kept busy – while a number of others have played characters for a short run in the series.



"One of our boys, Kian Murphy, is currently filming for the new series of Roy for CBBC and RTE. Kian plays a principal character (Decco) – he will be shooting over the next six months and has an on-set tutor – but there are a number of other roles for children in the series which are yet to be cast.

"With regard to modelling, it's mostly photo-calls that require children to be photographed at various events and product launches. Also, a few of our clients have also done some fashion modelling for JAN magazine.

"I think it's very important that the child shows an interest themselves and that it is something they would enjoy doing.

"A good place to start is by enrolling them in drama classes as this is a great way to build their confidence, which is very important at a casting.

"If this is something they enjoy, then they could certainly have a future in the business, but I would urge parents to view it more as a hobby or casual part-time work, rather than a career for their child."