Today’s special guest is Candy Bennici. She’s the mother of child actor Taran Noah Smith, who starred in the TV series Home Improvement. She’s talking about her book, Stardom Happens: Nurturing Your Child in the Entertainment Business, based on her experience as a mom with two children in the entertainment business.
With both of her children in the entertainment industry, Candy Bennici spent eighteen years as a manager. Her daughter, Aria Smith, was an international model, and her son, Taran Noah Smith, played “Mark,” the youngest son on the hit show Home Improvement for the eight years it was on television. Using this experience, Candyʼs main goal is helping parents care for their children while acting or modeling and has been on several talk shows including Jim J. and Ann and Caryl & Marilyn: Real Friends. Candy has also worked as a script supervisor for feature films and as an elementary school teacher.
She currently lives on a sailboat in San Rafael, California, with her husband, David, and her dog, Sprite, and enjoys being “Grami” to her two wonderful grandsons.
Welcome, Candy. Please tell us about your book.
This book is a guide for parents who have talented children who would like to perform. It gives parents the information they need to help their child succeed in the entertainment business and emerge with a positive sense of self. It is divided into three parts.
The first part, called Getting Started, helps parents decide if their child is right for the business. Amongst other topics they will learn how to help their child gain experience, find an agent, write a good resume and get good photographs made. The section ends with tips on how to survive the grueling audition process.
Part two, called Working on the Job, gives information the parent needs once their child actually lands a job. Signing contracts, child labor laws, education and what to expect on the set, are just a few of the topics covered.
Part three, called Staying Positive and Avoiding Problems, covers what to do if the child becomes a star. Working with producers and other actors, dealing with fans and fan mail, helping charities and other personal appearances, financial matters, and most important, how to keep a child normal, are just part of this section.
The book is written in a conversational tone with personal experiences and photographs used throughout. Taran adds his own comments so the reader can experience the topics from a child actorʼs perspective as well as the parentʼs.
Whether a parent has a future child actor or is just curious about the entertainment business, Stardom Happens will answer questions and help create a positive experience for the whole family.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wrote this book to help parents be prepared if their child enters the entertainment business and becomes a star. It is an exciting business but it can be treacherous for families if they are not aware of how the business works. We went into it completely naive and had to learn things the hard way. I want to help parents avoid this and give them ways to keep their child happy and safe while performing.
What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now I am working on the marketing of this book as my launch date was April 14th and there was, and still is, so much to do. But my next book is churning around in my head at the moment and I will be starting it soon. It will be about the experiences of a substitute teacher and will have lots of humor and insight about our educational system today.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I never thought Iʼd be a writer when I was younger but when my sonʼs show “Home Improvement“ ended I had so many people asking me what it was like to have a child actor I decided to write a book about our experiences which then, years later, morphed into this book.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wrote this book mostly full time. I retired from being a script supervisor but was still substituting on and off. I am a night person and enjoy writing from midnight to six am. This made substituting very difficult so I didnʼt teach very often. I am now completely retired and can write as much as I want.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk.
I guess my interesting writing quirk is just that I like to write after midnight. I will often sit down with a cup of tea and a piece of dark chocolate and start to write. If I write in the day, I like to write in cafes or book stores. I like having books around me and the sounds in the background provide a din which makes it easier to concentrate.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a child I wanted to be a teacher. I was able to achieve that as soon as I graduated from UCLA. Later, after many years of teaching, I wanted to do something else, preferably in the film business, and discovered script supervising. It was the perfect job for me as it involved being on the set in features and commercials keeping track of the shots for the editor and watching for continuity for the director. I did this along with substituting for 21 years with a ten year break to be with my son on the TV show.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
I am hoping to be able to talk personally with parents and kids who want to be in the business. I am planning to go to acting schools and conduct question and answer sessions for anyone who is interested in how it all works. Taran will join me as his schedule allows. Should be fun and rewarding too.
My husband and I live on a sailboat. In addition to sailing the San Francisco Bay, we have sailed to Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest, the East coast, Mexico and the Bahamas. We hope to get to the South Pacific next.
Thank you for being here today!