Hi. I’m Amy Anderson. I’m a comedian and actor, and I also happen to be the mother of a famous 5-year-old. My daughter is Aubrey, the little girl who plays “Lily” on ABC’s Modern Family, which has its season premiere on Sept. 26.
I wasn’t looking to get Aubrey into acting, but my agent told us about the casting call for Modern Family and Aubrey said she’d like to try. I was practically trying to talk her out of it, knowing the odds were against her, but she thought it would be fun to be on TV and insisted on auditioning.
Cut to the chase, she obviously booked the part. But it was that time in the room with her at her first reading for casting directors that I realized she was a tiny force to be reckoned with. My freshly 4-year-old baby went into a room with two strange men and a camera and fearlessly nailed a page and a half of dialogue with only one afternoon of coaching from mom. That’s when I knew she was a “natural” and may have just been born to do this … at least for now.
I don’t want you to think I’m bragging about my kid, because that’s not my point. I swear, it’s not ( ... youngest recipient of a SAG Award in history … cough cough). My point is that my child, at such a young age, seems to have found her people and, more importantly, a passion, and that’s what’s so astonishing to me.
Through this experience I have discovered there is nothing more satisfying than watching your child work hard toward a goal and then execute it with joy. This is what she does in her work on Modern Family, and this is what makes me so proud of her. It is the same attitude she took toward her first school play, in which she had a small role as a starfish with one line. She was very excited and proud, and so was I.
Now as great as all of this is, I should probably mention that it is a ton of work and a complete family life change in more ways than just your kid getting recognized every 10 steps through Target. I am approached and emailed a lot by parents who think they may want to get their young children into acting, and I feel it’s important to know what you are getting yourself into. I’ve been in the entertainment industry for more than 15 years, so I knew what was about to happen and how to handle it. And even with that, it has been a head-spinning, nonstop ride.
My own career is in complete transition to accommodate Aubrey’s. As a comedian and actor, I’m fortunate that I’m in control of my own schedule, so I took less work during her production season so I can be with her on set and at events. Still, we are both working girls now, and as a single mom juggling the logistics of our lives can, at times, be exhausting.
Of course, school is another huge consideration. Aubrey is only in kindergarten, but her education has been completely re-routed. We ended up moving her to a school that was more willing to be flexible with her work schedule, and while we’re very pleased with the way things went this season, the future is kind of up in the air. If she continues to grow with the show she will likely miss more regular school days, and we will have to go with the flow on the hows and wheres.
Our day-to-day life as a show business family is not typical, but we strive toward the same things as any other parent and child. I support and guide her in her efforts, and she works hard at what she loves. For your kid, maybe it’s soccer or basket weaving, spelling bees or tap dancing. For my kid, it’s acting—and she just happens to be on a big, fat show.
And like any kid in any activity, there are days when Aubrey is tired or has a hard time with a particular scene and she gets frustrated doing take after take, but her acting coach pointed out to me, “I’ve worked with tons of kids, and I’ve never seen Aubrey cry on set.” And she’s right—Aubrey never has. She takes her work seriously, and she tries her best because she loves it and that is what is most important to me.
Who knows how many seasons Modern Family will run, and who knows if Aubrey will want to continue acting when her “Lily” days are over. It will be her choice when the time comes, and I will be there to support and guide her into her next stage in life. But whatever it is, I feel confident that she will tackle her next adventure with the same gusto and joy, and I will be equally proud of my little Lily, my little Starfish, my little Aubrey.