The Actors Fund’s Looking Ahead program helps young professionals ages 9–18 deal with the challenges of working in the entertainment industry. Looking Ahead’s variety of activities and services guide young people through assorted issues like home/work/school balance, developing positive friendships, transitioning to college and more. On April 9, 2011, Nickelodeon’s animation studio in Burbank will host Looking Ahead’s Pic @ Nick! spring picnic. One of the day’s highlights—during which hundreds of young professional performers will mingle and participate in carnival activities—will be a panel moderated by Looking Ahead Advisory Committee Chair Fred Savage, an inspiring member of the entertainment community who made the successful transition from young actor (and star of the long-running hit The Wonder Years) to thriving television director. In advance of Pic @ Nick, Fred took some time to answer a few of our questions.
Actors Fund: Why is a program like Looking Ahead so important for young performers in the “business”?
Fred Savage: Looking Ahead is incredibly important because it nurtures two of the most important aspects of every child’s life—social interaction and planning for the future. Young performers are often removed from the social life that they knew before they started working so finding new friends, particularly those with similar interests and an equally unusual career, is critical to sustaining the fun and joy of being young. Additionally, the career of a young performer is, by definition, a short one, and Looking Ahead provides wonderful resources in planning what comes next, whether it’s a career in entertainment or another field entirely.
I understand you’ll be moderating a panel on April 9 for Pic at Nick! Who will be there to join you?
Yes, I’ll be on hand and we’re working on getting some terrific guests who were professionals at a young age and transitioned into successful careers as adults.
What was the greatest challenge/reward you found from being a young performer?
Being a young performer changed my life entirely. It brought me out to LA from Chicago, it introduced me to a business that I have worked in for almost 30 years, and it allowed me to meet people and go places that I would have never thought possible. I love the life that I have, and being a young performer gave all of that to me. It opened every door. The greatest challenge was figuring out what to do next, when I was no longer a “young performer.” There was a lot of soul searching involved in that.
Tell us about some of the projects you’re working on these days.
I work primarily as a television director, so right now I’m prepping an episode of Modern Family to direct. After that, it’s off to a new show for Fox called Breaking In, and then a pilot for NBC. Like acting, it’s a bit nomadic bouncing from show to show, but at least it’s never boring!
So you have two kids and counting. What would you say if they decided to go into the biz?
I was very fortunate in that I had nothing but positive experiences in show business, and while I would never push my children to perform, if it was something that they felt passionately about, I would absolutely support it.