The Cox Family

Ready for their close-up: meet a Valley
clan—all of whom work in the “biz.”

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  • Written by
    Linda Grasso

In many ways, the Cox family is typical for this neck of the woods. They live on a pretty, tree-lined street just off the Boulevard, and the kids go to public schools. The girls love gymnastics, and the boys play baseball. Mom Marianne shuttles the brood; dad Michael, who sells custom electronics for the military and aerospace industries, enjoys as much family time as he can.

But the Cox family has a notable distinction—all six members have mugs you’ve probably seen before. From TV commercials to catalog work—the entire family works in front of the camera. “Michael and I weren’t actors. This was never in the plan,” says Marianne with a laugh. “It just happened.”

It all started when Christian was 4. A professional manager approached Marianne at Ralphs and said he should be in front of the camera. Intrigued, Marianne took her son to a casting agency, and much to her surprise, he booked his first two auditions. On one of Christian’s next gigs, they needed someone to play his father in a C&H Sugar commercial. Who better than Michael? 

Soon everyone was in on the act. You might recognize 15-year-old Adam from a national Sunny D commercial or 10-year-old Natalie from a recent Pizza Hut commercial she did alongside little sister Nicole. Natalie says she always reminds herself that “just because you shoot it doesn’t mean it airs.”

Nicole, the youngest, got her first job as a newborn on the soap opera Passions—a gig that lasted for five years. “It was so easy,” says Marianne. “She’d always have a morning call time. I’d drop the kids off at school; then Nicole and I would go to the CBS set in Studio City. When we were done, I’d head back to school for pick-up.”

The Danish-born Marianne, who’s 39, recently dipped her own toes in and modeled for ads in Parenting magazine and for T Mobile.

The family agrees the Hollywood thing probably won’t last. In recent years auditions have gotten harder. Christian explains, “I’m busier nowadays. And I’d never miss a baseball game for an audition.”

While the kids’ careers may be short-lived, they’ve been impactful. Michael offers, “We put the kids’ earnings away to accrue interest. So the vast majority of their college education is paid for. That’s nice.” 

Michael and Marianne Cox offer some advice

-Don’t interrupt life for auditions. Let your kids have normal activities. Squeeze in auditions when they work.
-Don’t talk about money. Tuck it away and let the kids forget about it.
-Do ask the casting agent questions about auditions to figure out if they’re worth it. Determine which ones are most important.
-Don’t have expectations. Our kids never come back from an audition and ask, “Did I get it?” They have no expectations. Neither do we. 
-Do realize it’s work. Auditions are held from one end of southern California to the other. Be aware of the time, effort and commitment for kids and parents.