This is Our Story

We're the Sprayberrys and we moved to Los Angeles about four years ago to have our go at Hollywood. When we met the folks at Children In Film, they thought it would be a great idea if we documented our story. After all, our failures and successes (hopefully more the latter than the former) can be your lesson book.

So here you have it - Dylan and Ellery working through the ups and downs of being child actors - their mother and I working hard every day to ensure their success not only as actors, but also as well-adjusted members of society.

Monday, February 11, 2008

An Interview with Ellery Sprayberry

* with closing comments by Carl Sprayberry on "Ego Management"

"On how it feels to be on TV"
After a successful interview with Dylan Sprayberry, we decided to interview his sister Ellery - the sometimes girly, sometimes tomboy, sleepover queen and aspiring thespian.

Q: Ellery, how was it watching yourself on TV for the first time? Were you excited?
E: Yea, it was exciting! I was excited because it was the first thing I ever did. It made me happy and proud that I did something.

Q: Did it make you nervous to see yourself on a network TV program?
E: No not at all; I knew I was gonna do great!

Q: So did you let your friends know you were going to be on TV?
E: I told them before [it aired] so they would see the first thing I ever did.

Q: So what did they think?

E: They thought I did really good and that I was cute on TV.

Q: Did anyone call you after it aired?

E: A lot of people called and text messaged to tell me I did great. They said they were so surprised to see me on TV. My grandmother and grandfather were so excited. That made me feel
so good.

Q: So how did it feel to know you were on TV?

E: Like, I felt happy that I shot it and that it didn't get canceled or anything.

Q: Do you feel famous?

E: Yes because people have asked me for my autograph.

Q: Are you hard on yourself when you see your work? Do you say "I could have done better" or "That was a good take?"

E: Yes I am because sometimes I do mess up and I could have done better. When I have a good take, it's over and you can go to craft service and hang out with your friends on set.

Q: Does your family celebrate when you are on TV?

E: Yea, of course! We have a lot of friends come over and watch me on TV. We eat, talk and color while we watch the show.

Q: How do you think your brother feels when you are on TV? How do you feel when he is on set or has a TV show coming up?

E: He feels good. [I think he thinks] "you did great Ellery and you should do more film." He does really good and he's really great. He always tries his best and I think that's very nice.

Q: We hear you and your brother just booked a feature film where you'll be playing fraternal twins! How did you react when you got the news and how do you feel about working on set with your real brother as your on-screen brother?

E: I spazzed out; a lot of jumping and screaming and big hugs to my brother! It will be really cool. I'm not sure how it will go because we have never worked together before. I think it's gonna be great!

Comments from Carl Sprayberry

In regards to "Ego Management"

  • Ego Management - The parental act of regulating a child's self-image; helping to create a balance where positive self-esteem is encouraged and negative conceit and inflated feelings of pride or superiority to others are discouraged.
Click here to read an article on Ego by Children In Film's Child/Family psychologist Argahvan Sadeghi, MFT (coming soon)
    • Ellery is fortunate to have co-stared on four Network episodes last year. With these opportunities we have been asked how Ellery has responded to seeing herself on National Television and her changes in personality. As a family, we are proud and very grateful for the work we get. Dylan and Ellery enjoy being on set and it is fun for them, so we do make a big deal when their work airs just as we do when our friends' working child actors get work. What we try not to do, however, is talk about it non-stop. While we may reference a scene during a family discussion or hold a small party to celebrate, we don't continuously bring it up. The other thing we like to do is talk about how great the cast and crew were, so that the discussion isn't always all about the kids. Giving credit where credit is due allows the kids to be proud of their own accomplishment while also recognizing the efforts and talents of others.
    • Managing their egos is more of a question as to how Dana and I manage our own egos - it's 100 percent reflective. Our ego-energy, or the attitudes we convey to others, set an example to our children. We make an effort to balance family, fun, school, health and film [work].
    • At this point, Ellery does not show any signs of a negative ego for her existing work. This, I believe, is because we don't feed her ego the negative food. Unfortunately it is possible that too many actors are being rewarded simply because they were on TV or come from a famous family. Rewards of this kind lead to feelings of superiority just because the person is in the public eye when others are not. Think about it; it's kind of like Pavlov's dog. If a child begins to think that every time they're on TV they will receive exorbitant gifts, they may become conditioned to believe that the simple act of being in the public eye makes them greater. While "ego managing" we make every effort to avoid this negative conditioning. The kids receive praise for hard work and good work and are rewarded specifically for that with comments like, "Your performance was excellent" or "Your practice and hard work paid off," so that they know specifically what they are being praised for. The attempt is to build a positive self-image, not negative conceit.
    • As parents we are aware that it is necessary to keep potential arrogance in tact. Our kids are entitled to be confident, proud, and to stand up for what they believe in, but only that. This parental mindset we subscribe to requires a conscious effort on our part. We watch and review their communication styles regularly.
    • My famous "Dad Line" to the kids is this: My job is to love and protect you. This includes protecting them from their own egos and misconceptions of how the game of life is played.
    • Lastly, we look out for the "quicksand" that often exists within the arena of child-success be it in sports, Hollywood, or academia. That is, the trap of the limelight which parents are and children are susceptible. If the parents begin to sink into ideas of superiority, entitlement, etc, then it becomes very difficult for the child to emerge from the undertow alone.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Carl--you and Dana are doing a great job with the kids. I've known Dana since about 1990, and although we lost touch after you moved to LA and I moved to Dallas, I've watched the kids careers and am rooting for all of you. You folks are grounded, and have your priorities in the right place. More people in the entertainment business should follow your advice. Regards--Sam