Child actor laws and the entertainment industry

This section contains references and resources that summarize state laws relating to child performers. Additional information is available for states that recently passed new legislation.

In the United States we have a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established regulations for all workers,  like minimum wage, safety and the like.  The problem is that the FLSA has an exemption, called the “Newsie Exemption” for child performers. That can exemption can be found HERE.  Thanks to the Newsie Exemption, child performers are not protected in any way, unless their state passes labor laws specific to child performers. That makes for confusing patchwork of laws, state to state, with California having the most restrictive and most developed on any state.

Changes to the industry and filming incentives often trigger new legislation in each state. We strongly believe in the importance of parents, as individual citizens, participating in the legislative process in their respective states.

Who’s leading the charge? As of 2017, Georgia and specifically Atlanta, is third leg of the film and entertainment industry. The Georgia industry now brings in $7 billion a year, fueled by generous tax incentives of up to 30% of production costs. There is no indication that the move to Atlanta is slowing down!

Highlights in this section

Laws and the Entertainment Industry for Child Actors

Laws by State

It is a parent’s responsibility to know the laws in their home state and any state where a child may work.

We offer a state-by-state summary of applicable laws for child actors.

Graphic of protester signs saying ACTRA Equity SAGAFTRA and Actors Fund

Unions and Organizations

Acting is the only profession where children are union members and many are members of at least two unions.

Unions regulate work hours, provide for on-set safety, require academic education on set, among other things.

Jackie Coogan as a child and an adult

Coogan Law

Coogan Laws mandate that a percentage of a child actor’s gross income be set aside for them in trust.

California’s Coogan Law is the most far-reaching of most states and is the version used by most in the entertainment industry.