Page Parkes, founder of The Page Parkes Center of Modeling and Acting in Houston, Tx., has learned a lot about teenagers over the course of 40+ years helping them succeed in two of the toughest and most discouraging lines of work that there are. Since launching her talent business in the 1980s many now famous actors – Channing Tatum, Amber Heard, Brooke Burns, Angelina Jolie, Alexis Bledel, and Hilary Duff are named on the PPCMA websites – have trained there, as well as many more working actors and models who are not as famous.
“Talent” is a noun in Page’s line of work. She refers to the aspiring actors and models as “the talent” but she learned long ago that what is necessary for those teens to succeed – the physique, the ability to memorize a monologue and deliver it in character – is not sufficient. The most talented actors and models in the world all have many tales of rejection, being overlooked, and endlessly trudging to casting calls. The real difference between the stars and everyone else is most often that indefinable quality known as “grit.”
“Becoming a star takes more than being talented and beautiful,” Page said.
“When you walk into an audition where they’re looking for Alfalfa in The Little Rascals, and you see a room full of precious red-headed, freckle-faced kids, that would eat away at the confidence of probably anybody. You need grit to succeed in the talent industry. I tell them, “If you think you can, you can,” because they can learn grit and the habits of success. You have to be prepared for a lucky break. It’s all the mental state.”
Page Parkes and the Teen Leadership Camp
Page was raised by a single mom who taught her the habits necessary to succeed, and she has developed a program, called Teen Leadership Camp, to personally teach those skills and habits to teenagers who aren’t destined, or even aiming for, a life in front of the camera but who have just as much need for the habits of success as the actors and models.
“The Academy is for kids who have the proper qualifications (for acting and modeling), but if you’re not five-nine and have 34 inch hips a model camp won’t really help you,” Page said. “The leadership camp has nothing to do with acting and modeling. I spun it off, probably three or four years ago, so that I could share the beautiful success that the people had coming out of my corporation with with every teen that wasn’t tall or skinny.”
Working with talented teens determined to succeed in the famously competitive film and modeling industries convinced Page that bolstering their mental health was essential but mostly overlooked everywhere else.
“I learned that the mental health of teenagers is a missing link that no one was focused on,” she said. “No matter how beautiful or talented you are, your state of mind is important. I’ve been successful teaching this to models and talent. My goal now is to to open it up for regular teenagers to learn success habits so success naturally comes about.”
The Teen Leadership Camp is a passion project for Page. She inspires teenagers and teaches them how build their confidence to become leaders. Teen Leadership Camp focuses on helping the teen to get his or her Mind, Heart, and Spirit working in harmony. The camp is offered twice a year, and Page personally works with the teens over a 2 day period.
Page sees first hand the pressures bearing down on teenagers from social media and the toll that pandemic isolation continues to take on them. “Teens didn’t have any social activities during the pandemic and it really cost them with their social skills,” she said. “Socializing is like the water and sunshine that we need to grow as human beings. The pandemic was like being in the dark for several years. Now we have to give them enough sunshine and enough everything that just is not taught to them anywhere else.”
Those lessons are the foundation of success, like starting the day with the one thing you don’t want to do, telling the truth even when it is uncomfortable and doing whatever it is that you have committed to do.
“I see sometimes I am a mom figure for the teenagers,” Page said. “I just love teenagers. I want to change the world, one teenager at a time.”