You’re in line for an open call. Or in the holding area for a screen project. Bored with your wait you tap open on your smart-phone a dating app (i.e. a digital hook-up facilitator: Tinder, Grndr, Scruff, et al.). For entertainment you casually swipe through faces, chests, or the gray-ish black boxes which hide an identity. Suddenly the face of a peer actor you see within real-life feet near of you is now showing on your phone! (Although in person, the hotness factor may be lesser. Or the weird-tongue sticking out factor in the picture is not as disturbing.) What do you do? Block? Swipe right? (The match wouldn’t make for a blockbuster) Swipe left? (I’m giving you the green light to my project.) Or do you nod to the actor whose profile shows that they’re on the app simultaneously as are you and you find the humor that you’re both human, but look here we are strangers on each other’s phone! (Do you have an agent and are they seeking my type?)
But what if the face and profile is of someone you know? Many hook-up apps display who has viewed a profile. You’re uncomfortably snagged? They’ll know that you know what they know which is: you each don’t want to live a life of cloistered solitude. Why not text: hi . Acknowledge the humor in the discovery. Or, maybe you both quietly have an undisclosed desire for each other? Will you be bold?
But… what if the face in the app on your smart-phone is the casting director for whom you’re about to audition? Or the mug is one of the creative team leaders helming the production you’re currently working on together? Or it’s a talent agent: yours. Or a talent rep you wish was yours professionally. Are they seeing you on their phone as well? What do you do?
You might easily tap ‘block.’ But how can you block hundreds of casting directors, agents, directors, producers, and writers of which you don’t know if they are using the same hook-up app(s) as you? You can, and will, appear on their phone and not be aware of their digitally spotting your intimate desires. Yikes?
Personal privacy perished when the first email was sent by Ray Tomlinson in 1971. Cut-n-paste, and eventually ‘share’ and ‘like’ ripped back all of our privacy curtains. So, what to do with your privacy on dating apps?
Firstly, no matter what your level of visibility as an actor you must understand that you are a public figure. Doesn’t matter if you’re known for being an actor below 14th Street in New York, or appearing in low-budget features shot in Louisiana, or appearing as an U/5 in an episodic shot in LA: being an actor equals being a public figure. With that in mind, how do you safely navigate your private life that the public may view on hook-up apps?
Well, you could do the no-image-attached-to-a-profile scenario. Or be one of hundreds of chest only shots as are like the chests breeding like bunnies on Scruff & Grndr. But no face pics = no taps of “I’m interested.” So how do you get favorable taps, woofs, pecks, or something more than a ‘waz up?’ while balancing public/private?
- Post profile pics that include your face which wouldn’t embarrass your mother
- Keep your private pics (in your private folder of the app) G-rated to PG-rated. If you have genital nudity remember screen shots will be easily taken of your photos, and then shared with others without your knowledge.
- Refrain from explicit language in your profile. There’s more to you than your sexual fetishes or desired position(s). Write a profile that if you came across it as a stranger your initial reaction wouldn’t be ‘freak’ but ‘this sounds like a sane person who wouldn’t talk endlessly about them self.’–
- Post on a dating app pics or information that you wouldn’t have qualms sharing publicly on social media platforms. (Caution: politics expressed on a hook-up site only excites FOX or MSNBC addicts. Is excessive viewing of either network considered a fetish? Hmmm.)
You can avoid the apps altogether. Go old-fashion. But dating via bars is so Saturday Night Fever.
Colleagues of mine come across the profiles of actors (strangers and friends) on social apps. If they know the actor well, and the actor’s profile isn’t lurid with fetishes, my colleagues might drop a note to their actor-friend stating the surprise and humor that both on the app. No harm. No foul. Smiles hopefully all around. Forgotten and moving on.
But what does an actor do when a casting director, agent, or director isn’t so much congenial as they are creepy and want to crawl into an actor’s crannies?
- Politely respond that you’re flattered (if you are). Then, if you have no dating interest, state so directly adding that you wish to maintain a strictly professional relationship. Be tactful. Be polite. Be honest.
These digital encounters with professional peers on dating apps are going to occur if you utilize such apps. You’re always in control of the situation. You’re the one who, either by continuing a texting conversation or not, makes the choice of what occurs next. If you perceive yourself as not being in control that’s when the creepy in our business seize the opening in the door that you left open.
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 over two-dozen universities including Yale, Elon, Wright State University and Rutgers. He 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.