By Micaela Bensko

When our oldest daughter was nine, she sat us down in the living room to have “the talk”. With a speech to rival Clinton’s at the DNC, she orated a litany of supporting arguments as to why she should be allowed to act. To go on actual auditions. In the end, my husband asked her, “Would you like to be a washed up child actor, or would you rather take your time and be a movie star?”  She paused for a moment, looked into his eyes with dramatic pause and said, “I’d like to be a washed up child actor.”

Once a child wants to act, it’s like wrestling a walrus out of a bikini to change her mind. So what do you do when there’s a little voice inside of you, as a parent, that says, Ok, I’m game. Let’s give this a try.

The following is advice I have given clients, having been on one end of the industry or another for 20 years.

Many clients have asked me whether they should spend the money to attend one of the commercialized conferences for actors or aspiring performers.  It’s when a company brings together acting coaches, agents, photographers, casting agencies, etc. together in one place. They offer a schedule of workshops, headshots, resume building classes, a very enticing package of necessities for anyone wanting to get started on the right foot. These events can sometimes be helpful, bringing nuggets of information and are a fun experience IF you have the money to spend. Most actors do not. Especially parents with responsibilities and other children at home. Sometimes just one of these conferences can run in the thousands of dollars.

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In cooking there is a woman named Sandra Lee. I love her because she creates fabulous gourmet dishes with short-cut ingredients that cost half as much. Consider this my Sandra Lee recipe for the young actor lurking in your living room.

1. Get a decent headshot. Agents do not need ‘master-class’ headshots for kids! Your child’s headshot should be professional enough that the agent knows you are serious, but not so polished that the essence of your child is lost! Let your kid be a kid, and she will have a greater chance of getting called in for an audition. You don’t need the best or most expensive photographer in town. Just a professional your child is comfortable with. Let your child wear something that brings out their character rather than a new outfit that tries to define them. Most importantly, the headshot the agent or casting director receives with your submission better dang well be the same child that walks in that door. If your child has curly locks every day, don’t straighten them just for the pictures. Go with solid colored clothing without logos or designs. Jeans and a t-shirt for boys.  The same for girls, maybe a casual longer skirt or dress but dear lord please stay out of the step-ford aisle at Sears. Oh and remember, your child will change drastically at times so be prepared that while adult actors may only need new headshots every few years, children may need them every 6-12 months. So find a reasonable photographer you like and stick with them.

2. What is your child’s passion vs. talent? They don’t always coincide! Is it acting? Singing? Dancing? All of the above? Their love may not necessarily be what they’re good at, it’s your job to make sure you and your child are on the same page, but with an outsider’s perspective to back it up. It’s a lot easier to find out you can’t swim BEFORE you jump in the ocean. Get solid objective opinions from professionals in the field. Find a vocal coach, acting teacher, at your child’s school or high school nearby and ask if they can take some time to assess your child’s talent. You’d be surprised how much expertise you can find right in your own community which can help assess your child’s strengths before you hit the road, and do so in a loving and supportive environment.

3. Instead of spending thousands of dollars you may mot have on many things at once, enroll her in a reputable class. An acting/auditioning class is always a good idea no matter what she wants to do. She will learn the process of getting up in front of people, of learning lines and breaking in the skin needed to be authentic yet strong in front of others who she will audition for no matter what field she chooses.

4. After she has a class under her belt, submit her to an agency for representation. Sometimes classes have agents attend their class. Create a resume to include with her headshot. It doesn’t have to have a lot on it! Just be real and know this is a marathon, not a sprint! Too many parents go in expecting things to happen ASAP. Do this slowly and properly.

Do NOT EVER pay an up-front agency or management fee to be signed to their roster. EVER. These fees can sometimes be hidden in “headshot” fees where they get a kick back. Acting classes attached to an agency are another no-no. An agent can suggest an acting class or photographer but should not be financially associated with them in any way.

5. Beware of events for actors where they say “Invitation Only”. It is rare these events that charge thousands of dollars are just for selected young actors or individuals.  The entire process of becoming a working actor is done more with sweat and tears with bursts of joy, rather than paying a few thousand dollars to realize in the end you still don’t have an agent. In this business the invitations you should get excited about are call-backs and meetings. Not opportunities to spend money you don’t have on something that isn’t a sure thing but looks sparkly in the ad.

6. There is a documentary called “The Hollywood Complex”. This film should be required viewing for every parent considering a career in acting for their child.

It is as real as it gets. It’s actually educational for anyone entering the entertainment industry. If someone wants to act, there is little that will dissuade them. It’s the nature of the creative beast. But the greatest tool they will ever have is knowledge. An inside scoop of what to expect so that when it happens to them, the highs and the lows, they’ll know the most important thing of all. They are not alone.

7. If a child would like to act or sing or dance, it’s a gift from above for them to share their gifts with the world. So this is not at all meant to deter anyone from following a dream. It’s simply a guide with pointers I’ve learned from having been a young actor myself, a photographer in the business for 15 years, and as a wife of a producer who sees it all from the production standpoint every single day.

Last, but by no means least, when you introduce your child to the industry, whether it’s a class at a time or a conference atmosphere, go in with the frame of mind that nothing is a one-stop-shop which will create a career. A career is built on many elements which come together over time. Most of all she should have FUN. If acting is not fun for a child, then it’s not worth doing. Period. End of story.

There is no easy ticket. It helps if you know someone. But it’s never the answer. So often, well-meaning people ask how to get onto my husband’s show. It pains him to answer that even at his level, there is no magic wand. There is a hierarchy in place on any legitimate production for a reason. There’s a protocol set to maintain what little sanity there is, in an already insane industry. It’s an industry built on people just like you. Parents raising families. That don’t always have the answers, and deep inside wish they could all make the dream happen for everyone, so everyone would just be ok.  It’s a land of passionate individuals trying desperately to fit in a systematic machine of parts all struggling to function as a unit. With higher-ups yelling at them. To make it perfect. So forgive people in the industry if they seem cold, or on edge, or over-it. They’re tired. They worked 17 hours the day before, and you remind them of everything they were before they themselves ‘made it’. The short-tempered casting director, the agent who forgot your birthday, the development girl who never reads your script. They are not bad people. Jaded is not the word either. They are men and women who are in it all too deeply to walk away. It took too long, too many years of paying dues, to make a dream come true that in the end isn’t at all what they expected. The Grip who works too late to tuck in his son at night. The AD who missed his daughter’s play. The writer with ten pages of studio notes on a script that bares her soul. These are things no one will tell you, because in the industry you’re not allowed to complain. Because ultimately every one of them knows they are damn lucky to be there. This goes for actors too.

So on this road remember it’s not about making it big. Even the biggest stars wish things were different up there.

Remind your child and yourself that this is a journey of discovery. It’s a time to show kindness and respect to those you meet along the way. Even to casting directors who forget to smile. Because no matter how this ends up, the only way to truly be successful is to remember that at one time or another, every person in that room, sat on their couch in their living room. And had a dream.

Remind your child and yourself that this is a journey of discovery. It’s a time to show kindness and respect to those you meet along the way. Even to casting directors who forget to smile. Because no matter how this ends up, the only way to truly be successful is to remember that at one time or another, every person in that room, sat on their couch in their living room. And had a dream.
Micaela Bensko is an award-winning photographer whose work has been seen in national publications. She has been featured as a leader in her field by Professional Photographer Magazine. She is currently writing a book and published articles on life behind the camera. Bensko is also the subject of the Emmy Award winning Fox news segment “Honoring the Wounds of War” for The Tempered Steel Organization. She is VP of the Iraq Star Foundation, providing free reconstructive surgery to troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and also sits on the Grassroots Advisory Committee for the Los Angeles Army Recruiting Battalion. She lives between Los Angeles and Nashville with a husband, four children, and a very short dog named Reggie. www.benskophotography.com.

Oct. 19, 2012 (Week 8 | League Game 3)

Power Valencia-SCVTV Game of the Week:

Hart 35

Saugus 0


Valencia 54

Canyon 41


West Ranch 35

Golden Valley 13

Matt Moore; Courtesy of SCVNews.com

The William S. Hart School District not only has outstanding academics, but is also known to produce some of the best athletes in the country.

Matt Moore, current quarter back for the Miami Dolphins, graduated as one of the top quarterbacks in the nation from William S. Hart High School. During Moore’s senior year, he received attention from numerous universities, interested in his football talents, and was also drafted by the Anaheim Angels. Continue reading

After attending UCLA and Oregon State, he played for the Dallas Cowboys and the Carolina Panthers before moving to Miami. While his talents had much to do with his good fortune, the Newhall native accredits much of his work ethic and determination to the coaches at Hart.

“[Hart] is a place of winners [and] champions… for this to happen to me means the world,” Moore said.

Although football season is in full swing, Moore is taking time to thank his coaches and school, who will be acknowledging him tonight at the Hart vs. Saugus game. As a proud part of

“I never really prepared for football before I got to high school,” Moore said. “Looking back, I didn’t realize how lucky I was.”

Chuck Osborne

Chuck Osborne, a defensive star at Canyon High School who went on to play for the St. Louis Rams in the NFL, was found dead in his home in La Jolla on Tuesday. He was 38.

Osborne played for Canyon coach Harry Welch in high school and at the University of Arizona in college. He was a seventh-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams in 1996. Continue reading

He led Arizona in sacks with 11 in the 1994 season. Had recorded 21 sacks in his college career and was No. 10 in sacks at Arizona.

Osborne was an all-state selection at Canyon in his senior season. He was an All Pac-10 selection at defensive tackle in his senior season at Arizona.

After his rookie season with the Rams, Osborne played professionally in NFL Europe with the Amsterdam Admirals. He returned to the NFL and played for the Oakland Raiders before being traded to the Green Bay Packers and ended his career with the New England Patriots. He played 37 games in the NFL

Canyon football coach Rich Gutierrez, who played against Osborne when he was at Saugus High, said Osborne was a tenacious player.

“It’s a devastating loss to the Canyon community,” said Gutierrez, who graduated from high school the same year as Osborne. “I know he was extremely close to Coach Welch.”

Gutierrez said Osborne returned to watch several of Canyon’s games when his NFL career was over. Osborne was at the CIF State Bowl game against Concord De La Salle in 2006 and watched Canyon beat the top-ranked team in the state.

“Chuck was always around,” Gutierrez said. “Chuck was such an exceptional player. His grittiness was a staple of the program.”

Go to the Tucson Citizen for more on Osborne and his football career.

The City of Santa Clarita is excited to welcome back the Santa Clarita Marathon on Sunday, November 4 at 7  a.m.  The race event will include a marathon as well as a half marathon, 5K run, Mayor’s Walk, and Kid’s K fun run, each beginning at various times and locations around the Westfield Valencia Town Center.

The City’s marathon, which is an official qualifying race for the Boston Marathon, is a challenging race designed to test the physical boundaries of the human body while promoting health and fitness among residents. This year, the race will use new trails along the San Francisquito Creek, which will provide scenic views and reduce the amount of street closure on McBean Parkway. Continue reading

In anticipation of the event, the City will also host a pre-race Health and Fitness Expo from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 3, at the Hyatt Regency Valencia, located on Town Center Drive. The free Expo will feature various health-related vendors, running gear, and information booths.  Participants will also be able to register for the race as well as picking up race bibs and T-shirts.

In addition to bibs and t-shirts, event participants will receive a link to “Virtual Race Bag” containing online information about the Santa Clarita Marathon as well as special offers from participating businesses and sponsors.

To participate in the Santa Clarita Marathon or other race events, community members can register online, by mail or in person at the Fitness Expo. Participants who register online will save $3 processing fee and can pick up their race bibs at the Expo.  Online registration is open now through Sunday, October 28.  Mail-in registration packets must be postmarked by Monday, October 22.  Registration will not be offered the day of the race.

For more information on the Marathon and registration, please contact Arts and Events Supervisor Patrick Downing at (661) 250-3783 or visit www.scmarathon.org.

Oct. 12, 2012 (Week 7 | League Game 2)

Power Valencia-SCVTV Game of the Week:

Valencia 55

West Ranch 7


Hart 56

Golden Valley 14

Canyon 41

Saugus 14

[LASD] – On October 2, 2012, three Los Angeles area residents were indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in connection with a complex scheme that defrauded Bank of America and Fidelity National Title Company out of $1.5 million.

On October 5, 2012, the suspects were arrested at their homes by detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Real Estate Fraud Team, and booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles.

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The suspects are identified as:

Saliya “Sal” DeSilva, male, 49, of Northridge;

Nora Yefima, female, 50, of Santa Clarita;

Vahe Hayrapetian, 45, of Burbank.

In July, 2009, the owner of a residential property on Gould Avenue in La Canada-Flintridge defaulted on $3.5 million in loans which were secured by the property.

Bank of America foreclosed on the property and took possession of it. In February, 2010, it is alleged that Saliya “Sal” DeSilva contacted Bank of America posing as the prior owner, provided Bank of America with counterfeit documents, and convinced Bank of America that the foreclosure was improper.

As a result, Bank of America rescinded the foreclosure, and DeSilva, a licensed real estate salesperson, listed the property for sale without the consent or knowledge of the prior owner.

In August, 2011, the property was eventually sold in a fraudulent short sale transaction after a title insurance company was given false information regarding the condition of the property, and was provided with counterfeit documents, including a fake Bank of America Short Sale Approval Letter stating that Bank of America had approved a sales price of $250,000.

The buyer used Loan Broker Vahe Hayrapetian to obtain a $1.5 million loan for the “purchase,” and the funds were wire transferred by the lender to Oshana Escrow in Encino.

It is alleged that Loan Broker Vahe Hayrapetian submitted materially false and fraudulent documents to the lender order to secure the $1.5 million loan.

It is also alleged that the owner of Oshana Escrow, Nora Yefima, sent false documents to the title insurance company, wire transferred a relatively small portion of the loan funds to the title insurance company for the fraudulent short sale, and then disbursed the rest of the funds, an amount exceeding $1 million, to several other parties who had nothing to do with the transaction.

The buyer of the property then defaulted on the loan which was fraudulently obtained by Vahe Hayrapetian, and since Bank of America never approved the short sale and continues to assert the validity of their $3.5 million in liens, there is insufficient equity in the property to compensate the subsequent lender for their $1.5 million loss. Fidelity National Title Company insured the lender and may have to reimburse them for the loss.

The charges in this case include Bank Fraud and Wire Fraud, United States District Court Central District of California, case numbers CR12-0959 and CR12-0960.

The investigation was conducted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Real Estate Fraud Team, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Hart football team cracked the top Cal Hi Sports state top 25 for the first time this season.

Hart is ranked No. 23 after winning its fifth game in a row. The Indians beat West Ranch, 49-6, in the Foothill League opener. Continue reading

Hart has lost only one game, 10-7, to Tesoro, the No. 7 team in the state as ranked by Cal Hi Sports, in Week Zero.

Since then, Hart has won five games in a row, including 49-7 over Ridgeview from Bakersfield, so far the signature win for the Indians.

Hart quarterback Brady White is coming off one of his best games of the season. His updated stats from the West Ranch game: 18-for-19 for 221 yards and three touchdowns. He completed his last 16 pass attempts of the game.

Concord De La Salle is the No. 1 team in the Cal Hi Sports top 25. Rancho Santa Margarita, the team coached by former Canyon coach Harry Welch, is the No. 2 team in Cal Hi’s top 25.

Alemany is No. 10. Crespi of Encino is No. 17.

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