This Week: Actors Doing Themselves In Thinking They’re Doing Right
On a recent July 4th holiday I returned from an A.T.M. in Binghamton, NY to the other half’s car only to find him behind-the-wheel bitching about an actor. His gripe?
An actor – whom he did not know – had gotten a hold of his private e-mail and while we were enjoying our fried chicken at the Barrel de Cracker (Cracker Barrel for those less in vogue) the actor had sent the following message:
“Happy 4th of July!
I need representation to get my career off to a bang like fireworks. Attached is my picture and resume. Hope you’re having fun!”
We were having fun until this actor who knew no boundary for social graces interrupted our peaceful holiday.
When I got home several days later I should not have been surprised to find similar messages waiting for me via my Facebook and e-mail accounts. I looked at the date for when the majority of the messages had been sent. July 4th. (Your argument that maybe the senders were Ugandans or Canadians unaware of our firecracker festivities would be incorrect.)
I routinely get these poorly timed efforts of actor marketing. As I recalled in ACTING: Make It Your Business I received phone calls – at home – on both eves of Christmas and New Years from actors seeking an audition.
Then there are the Christmas “card” greetings from people I don’t know or, like the actress to the left, care to know.
My first thought about the holiday e and voice mailers is; Why aren’t these people relaxing and enjoying the time off like everyone else? Are their lives so lonely and careers so desperately devoid of fulfillment that they force themselves to forget frivolity of a holiday and turn the time-off into a workday? Get a freakin’ life!!
I know the possible brewing argument against my opinion; “Oh but I sent [insert random holiday greeting] so that the receiver would get it when they return to work.” Hello? Wake up and smell the technology trends. Sadly, very few people disconnect themselves from electronic communication while on vacation or while retiring during off-hours. If you send out marketing e and voice mails on a holiday what makes you think you’re so special that others are not checking in on messages left?
When you dissect this nearly both parties (pitchers and catchers of communications) are to blame for abusing what has become our modern society of constant contact. But when actors send e and voice mails on a holiday, to personal or work accounts, the impression by the receiver is not “This is a proactive actor.” No. It’s “This is an actor with OCD and/or too much vacant time in their career/life. Don’t they have other interests?”
And if you’re thinking that the messages are left for latter retrieval at an optimal time of attention of the receiver(s) then you’ve failed Marketing 101. When the receiver returns from holiday or a weekend, on that first day back the in-boxes for e and voice mail are overflowing with electronic messages. The actor making a general inquiry is quickly deleted so that the next message – hopefully a priority – can be heard or read.
As to sending a holiday greeting to begin a plea for attention; it’s so passive-aggressive. And blatantly false on sentimental intent. Imagine you’re a home owner swept away by a Currier & Ives card while uttering the following:
“Oh look our septic cleaner sent us a Season’s Greetings salutation. We must use him again being that he’s so sentimental about our shit.”
Bullshit. You’d slice the snow-laden sleigh in two and the message of merriment would be tossed into the trash because it’s viewed precisely for what it is in intent; a transparent marketing ploy exploiting a holiday occasion to deliver a sales pitch.
If sent by me or my office I’m sure you’d delete quickly the following message:
“Happy Autumnal Equinox! Buy My Book!”
There are boundaries. And as a human – which trumps actor – offenders of the passive-aggressive holiday message marketing would do themselves a greater service by taking time-off themselves. Forget the profession. Relax. Enjoy life. The work of finding work isn’t going to run away. For the actor it’ll always be there like those asinine and annoying actors who – in rehearsal or performance — give fellow actors notes. Even on holidays.
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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.
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