What Actors Should NOT Be Doing Online

Haha, you thought I was going to say “Get drunk and post naked selfies.” Nope. Go right ahead. Unlike the Cheesecake Factory or the local unified school district, the theatre is forgiving of indiscretions of that sort, don’t you think? Or they damn well should be, I mean, come ON.

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A selfie I took hiding behind my desk when one student took the entire two hour final exam period to finish a final everyone else knocked out in an hour. It expressed my soul.

No, I’m talking about how to deal with the fact that your facebook profile and email address are getting in the way of you getting hired. Here are some simple, easy-to-deploy tips you can use to make things easier for me and other people like me, who are looking to cast our plays, films, web series, and industrials as painlessly as possible.

1. DO NOT make your email address impossible to find, use, or tolerate. Create an email address that is at least partially recognizable as yours. Do you have any idea how often I use autocomplete to try to find someone in a hurry? About as many times as I have directors, casting directors, and filmmakers email me asking for suggestions for actors, so a scrotillion times a week at minimum. Evidently I’m the non-union actor fairy. So if I can’t type part (or even all) of your name into the field and have your name pop up, I move on to the next actor. If I really, really want you, specifically, I’ll make the extra effort to find your headshot in my files or swing over to your facebook page (more on that later), but generally I’m burning through a list of the first ten or so people I think might be a good fit for that role while the project I’m working on at the moment is on pause. I can’t allocate an hour to answering an email, so if your email address is “singing4lyf@yahoo.com” and the name you’ve connected to it is “SingerStar DramaLife,” I HAVE NO IDEA WHO THE FUCK YOU ARE . If you simply must make your email address “DramaGrrrrrl47@aol.com” you better make damn sure your actual name is attached to that. But seriously, get a gmail address that is at least partially related to your name.

Also, please don’t share an email address with your husband, wife, parole officer, or dog. You are a GROWN UP. Get your own email address for professional use. No one cares if you share an email address with your spouse for personal use (I mean, we care in that we wonder how you manage to function like that, but we’re not judging you). For professional use, however, we need to be able to find you quickly. When I’m trying to locate an actor in order to recommend her to someone who wants to hire her, again, I can’t find Beth Ishikawa if her email address is “mattandbeth@gmail.com” and the name attached to it is “The Ishikawas.” Make your email address “beth.ishikawa@gmail.com” and make all our lives better.

2. DO NOT make your facebook profile picture the Eiffel Tower, a cat, or a dreamcatcher. Make it a picture of YOU. Should I be using facebook as my personal casting garden? Yeah, maybe, maybe not. But we all do it, all the time. Why? Because often we don’t have your headshots in our files and are trying to track you down, plus we’re already on it all the time, it’s easy as hell to find people that way, and we can tell at a glance if you’re still in the area or if you moved to Chicago like we think we remember you telling us once in an email a few months ago. Sometimes I’ll even just browse my facebook friends if I’m particularly stuck in a casting quandary, hoping for a flash of inspiration. Now, you know I love you all deeply and personally, but sometimes in the heat of the moment, it’s hard for me to remember exactly which Mark or Jessica you are. When your facebook profile picture is of a sandwich, YOU ARE NOT HELPING. It doesn’t have to be your headshot, but it should be YOU.

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This should not be your facebook profile picture.

Which leads me to:

3. DO NOT “protect” your email address on facebook. You’re “protecting” yourself from getting hired. Put your professional email address on your facebook “about” page. Create a special email address just for this if you must, but be sure to check it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cruised over to a facebook page to find contact info for an actor whose headshot isn’t, for some reason, in my files or in TBA’s talent bank, only to find that their information is “protected.” YOU’RE AN ACTOR. There should be some way to contact you prominently displayed on your every public profile. I will, more often than not, just move onto the next actor rather than leave a facebook message unless we’re already facebook friends because I know you don’t check your “other” folder.

5. DO NOT forget to check your “other” messages folder on facebook. This is where messages go when they’re from companies, or people you don’t know. Chances are you all have a fourteen-month-old message from me in there asking you to come in and read for a role.

6. DO NOT forget to update your TBA Talent Bank info. If you are a Bay Area actor, you should be a member of Theatre Bay Area and you should have current info posted in TBA’s Talent Bank, because we use it all the time.

7. DO NOT forget that everything you post on the internet is ON THE INTERNET. Yes, I know some of you still believe in Santa Claus, the Chupacabra, and Facebook Privacy, but rest assured that if you post it on the internet, at some point, every human on earth will eventually see it. Again, I’m not referring to drunken naked selfies (go on with your bad self). I’m more referring to things like, “I love this show! This is the best director I’ve EVER worked with!” or “This theatre is my favorite place to work!” Now every other director and every other theatre you’ve ever worked for has the sads. Conversely, don’t think you can post “Grrr! I hate this costume! It looks like barf!” without your director, costume designer, and castmates all seeing it within the hour. Every human has been guilty of this at one point or another because humans have EMOTIONS and emotions make us ACT OUT, but this is what the delete function is for.

That’s all I have for now, based on the flurry of casting I’ve been doing over the past few weeks. My usual “Wow, this is a lot of casting” level has been dialed up to “ZOMG I HAVE SO MANY THINGS I HAVE TO CAST RIGHT NOW THIS SECOND AND TEN EMAILS JUST CAME IN ASKING FOR EVEN MORE ACTORS.” So help me find you! Because you know I want to.

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5 thoughts on “What Actors Should NOT Be Doing Online

  1. Since this is about FB setting, I’d also add that people should be aware of whether or not their e-mail on FB will say “xxxx@facebook.com”.

    Most folks are unaware of this because they rarely look at the main view of their own profile (the “About” section on your Timeline). But if you do, don’t be surprised if it says “xxxx@facebook.com” in place of your real e-mail.

    They started this last year. Fortunately, it’s an easily-fixed problem:

    http://www.gizmodo.com/5921085/facebook-just-changed-your-email-without-asking++heres-how-to-fix-it

  2. T. Antonio Rivas says:

    I’m not an actor, so this doesn’t apply to me. But those of us with indigenous names face a different conundrum: Anglos who can’t/won’t make the effort to say/spell/learn our name. Since most folks can’t pronounce my first name (let alone spell it) – perhaps I should assimilate and change it to “Ritchie Valens”… #entiendesmendez?

    • This is actually a personal pet peeve of mine. I teach in a state university in California, so I have kids in my classes literally from all over the world, some here just for college and some who have immigrated here. Many of them have chosen an “Anglo” first name. I always check in with them and ask them which they would prefer to be called, and tell them that I am more than capable of learning their actual names. It irritates me to no end when people act like they can’t learn how to pronounce a name that is unusual to them. How hard could it be to write a phonetic note to yourself? Ugh, it’s basic respect to learn someone’s NAME.

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