I’ve got some tough love for you today. And I hope you take it seriously.
As artists, we feel deeply about and we want to be active in the causes we believe in.
At the same time, as actors and VO artists, we run businesses we want to be successful.
Mixing the two is dangerous, and I want you to stop. Here’s why.
I make no bones about the fact that I am an objectivist. If you don’t know what that is, it’s more libertarian than libertarians.
But…I don’t, other than here in this article, mention it in my professional life as an actor, when selling my wares, when auditioning, when working.
It’s not appropriate.
An actor contacted me after a recent article I wrote on enhancing actor websites. And the actor asked me to review her site.
What I found was a fairly fast loading site, with 5 links that promoted her headshot, resume, reel etc, and 8 links promoting her activism with Wikileaks, various anti-death penalty causes, taking a knee for the National Anthem, immigration reform and more.
I wrote her back immediately about that.
That kind of material does not belong on a business site. Acting sites are business sites.
Stuff like that should have a home on your personal site, your facebook page, your twitter stream, if you insist.
But not on your professional acting promotion site. Or casting profile, or demo page, or anything having to do with your career.
As I wrote to her, this is not a suggestion, or a maybe. This is a requirement.
If you want to link to your personal site through a page that says that your opinions are not necessarily those of your employers, fine. I wouldn’t even do that.
Absolutely express your activism in the appropriate arena. Not in a professional setting.
Casting directors are not looking to create problems – they shy away from people who might potentially be hard to deal with on set because of their political, social, religious or other divisive views. It’s hard enough to get their attention to consider you – don’t give them a reason to abandon you.
Maximize your opportunities for someone to find your materials and not be distracted by your personal beliefs. Don’t give anyone a reason to say, “Hmmmm….pass.”
Agree? Disagree? Do you insist you won’t be told when and where to keep your mouth shut on important social issues by the likes of me? Tell me what you think about this in the comments.
Hope this helps.
David- I appreciate your point of view and I agree- an actor web site is not the location to make statements about political affiliations or religious beliefs and such. I am building my own web site this fall and wil be making a deciison about including any mention of the national team I founded for Alzheimer’s on it. I am the founder and National Team Captain of Actors and Artists Unite to End Alzheimer’s- a national team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. It is listed on my resume and on my profile for every casting site-LA Casting etc. I am leaning towards a very simple mention and a link to the national team page. It is so very much a part of my life and the team has received so much press- it’s pretty much known in our industry anyway. any time that I have written to any of the casting people that I know on facebook about films that I’ve booked and include a mention of our team- they are genuinely thrilled and proud for us for the work we have done. So- I do agree with you in many respects- but many of us in the industry who are activists for Alzheimer’s- David Hyde Pierce, Alfred Molina- even Brian Grazer- this is part of our professional identity so I am leaning towards including it- take care and thank you! Nancy
I can’t think of anything less controversial than a link to a site to support someone trying to end a disease. The article was aimed squarely at the visibility of activism in clearly divisive issues, like the ones listed, being a detriment to promoting your acting career – not supporting a worthy charity (unless that charity has political or religious overtones) – who in casting is ever going to have an issue with a walk to cure Alzheimers or breast cancer or MD? No one. I’m glad you got the point of the article, and thanks for bringing this up.
Awesome article! Yes. Please, when I’m working, studying or trying to simply enjoy myself, I don’t want to hear “opinions” on divisive topics (often parroted from one’s favorite so called “news” network…ratings driven “news” by the way). A. They are distracting, B. They often inflame emotion (pro or con) and C. Rants are just that – rants – and are often not constructive….and yes, I see the irony in my opinionated commentary on this subject :-)
Seriously though. I respect ALL people’s beliefs and causes and their right to express them and I hope that they respect mine. Especially since mine often cut against the grain of dogma (leftie of rightie) as I think I am one of them there, “Objectivists” as well. :-)
Like all good blog posts, short, sweet and to the point… and the point is very well made. People in “media” have a propensity to be a little precious sometimes. Maybe they think it defines them artistically and is an important differentiator… part of their persona (product). Take it away from the “creative arts” and put it in the real world… if I need a plumber, am I going to go with the guy who plasters his site with polarizing political statements… or am I more inclined to go with the guy who may link to an interesting piece on the relative merits of compression or soldered joints?
As to “worthy causes”… I still think there is no place for them on a professional website. Who can object to cancer research charities? Well, actually, a lot of people do. They see them as a palliative smoke screen while the real issue is with big pharma sitting on the cure because they make billions from treatment rather than cure. OK… I’m not saying that’s my personal belief, but there are people who do believe that a lot charities are themselves big businesses that actually hinder, rather than help. There’s also an underlying arrogance to presenting your pet cause that may be at odds with a client’s pet cause. I can see no upside at all to having extraneous stuff on a professional site.
Didn’t mean to be contentious… but business is business.
Words of Wisdom David. Words of Wisdom.
Thanks, David, for helping us keep the main thing…the main thing. That’s being focused and powerful.
I agree that you shouldn’t be putting potentially divisive causes on your web site. I’m wondering if they shouldn’t be part of your Twitter or Facebook campaigns either. Can a person create more than one handle with one being personal and the other being professional?
I totally disagree with this! Artmaking and activism are intrinsicly linked in my life. And throughout history, art or theatre and activism have been connected. Most of my favorite (successful! famous! working!) actors are vocal activists, too. They and their work will matter long term, and they will be remembered for the impact they had beyond their own “hustle”. The work that matters is the work that speaks to our hearts. I have booked parts or had auditions because of talking about causes and being authentic in that way. Suggesting that people silence themselves about very important issues, especially after all that has happened in our country this week, is really disappointing. I understand that it’s your way of doing business, but it’s the opposite of why I am here. And on the producer side, I wouldn’t invest my own money or time into actors who only care about marketing themselves and their hustle. I hire full human beings who are comfortable talking about things they care about in the world.
This just in: https://www.thewrap.com/james-woods-dropped-talent-agent-politics-actor-says/