Whilst debating with some friends at a recent callback, I began composing a Tweet (bear with me) on the finer points of social media. As if the universe was reverberating, I came across an article which sent me right over the edge. Talent and confidence are two of the many qualities which casting directors look for but, thanks to the miracle of technology, it's time to tack on one more! Your Twitter and Instagram will now play a role in booking you that dream job. According to Malina Saval of Variety, Mitch Gosset, senior vice president at Cunningham Escott Slevin Doherty Talent Agency had this to say:
Whoa, hold the phone! From a producer’s perspective, all that free Twitstagram press is a no brainer! Sure, the actor may or may not have been less qualified than another, but they’ve got “6 millions followers” so, they’re in! Thanks Mitch. All those followers; all that wonderfully free promotion counts for jack when the actor is a egomaniacal asshat. #lifeofastar
As Bob Dylan once wrote, "The times, they are a changing." These days, it is no longer enough to have great heashots, a compelling song book, confidence, and a measurable amount of talent. To stay ahead of the curve, it behooves us to produce regular and engaging content across a variety of social media apps. The good old days of getting up at 4am to hurry up and wait in line, agonize over your song, curl your hair (or lack thereof) for some good old fashioned human interaction are waning my friends.
Auditioning is the necessary grunt work that has remained a cornerstone of this career. But for how long? If casting directors subscribe to this balderdash, headshots (complete with duck face) may well be taken via selfie stick and 16 bars replaced with 150 characters. Instead of encouraging young actors to amass followers, why not encourage young actors to read plays or seek out appropriate audition songs? Rather than resigning yourself to 7 sophomoric seconds on Vine or your Insta bikini selfie, why not put your creative juices to good use and try raising the bar? It's acting, not an escort service.
Admittedly, I've taken full advantage of technology which has opened channels of communication that have up until now been more elusive. Thanks to Backstage and Actor's Access, it's easier than ever to gain exposure from the comfort of your keyboard. Twitter grants us the ability to chat with not only industry professionals, but celebrities to boot! There’s a difference, however, between filming a submission because you’re out of town and trolling social media for someone with 6 million+ followers. Until recently, I'd resisted the engulf myself in social media but, as Gosset declares:
This is high school all over again. The Varsity stars of tomorrow are playing JV today. Despite my use of these platforms as a means of communication and promotion, I find the use of social media as a means of casting to be one of the more abhorrent ideas I’ve ever heard. You want to troll the Internet for the next Miley Cyrus, you go right ahead. God knows we need another one of her. Do we really need to lower the bar any further? Can’t we retain a little bit of integrity and class? YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter are all fun forms of modern day expression, but let's not rely on social media elitism to determine the next Sinatra or Streep.
Saval, Malina. "Digital Revolution Pushes Youth Talent Agents to Change Their Game." Variety. 1, Sept. 2015. 5, Sept. 2015. http://variety.com/2015/tv/spotlight/digital-revolution-pushes-youth-talent-agents-to-change-their-game-1201582677/