My personal advice to young actresses and comedians
Its never your fault if a man attacks you. But here are some warning signs.
First things first, be cynical. As much as it sucks, most of the famous, powerful and successful men who contact you aren’t in it for your career.
Please, please don’t think that you aren’t talented because of this. You could be hilarious, smart, naturally talented AF: but that’s not what predators latch onto. And there are a lot of predators.
They probably won’t think that they are even morally dubious for contacting a pretty, ambitious young girl. You are just a nice profile picture and a good flattery boost. But sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, they will use their fame, contacts or even your career hopes to manipulate you.
Why am I saying this? Because I have A: experienced it, and B: heard a lot (a LOT) of horror stories. I’ve been contacted online by older producers, directors or agents in a semi flirtatious way that I would argue is manipulative. It starts off small: so what do you act in? Would you be interested in TV work? It then grows to the insinuation that you should meet them, or, even more grubbily, have sex with them.
I’m not saying any man attracted to a young woman online is a predator. But the power dynamic and the implied ‘favours' are toxic. The idea that you should grin and bear a creepy old man to help you network or find work reeks of coercion. I’m not asking you to blame yourself. I’m simply sharing knowledge, woman to woman, about what can happen.
I’d be wary of this. Even if a producer is charming, funny and kind, if you aren’t interested, don’t get pressured into making it sexual. I know its hard, but you aren’t making a ‘choice' if a man is effectively saying fuck me or get out of my office. Its rarely said so explicitly, but its there.
I have some brilliant male friends; some producers, some actors, some comedians, who wouldn’t dream of pushing me into corners like that. (That’s why we are friends.) But I’ve always been wary at first. If that means immediately slamming flirting down, loudly proclaiming my disgust at couch casting, or avoiding faux date situations, I do it. I did look rude. Distant. Haughty. But I did avoid what many girls I know have experienced.
You NEVER have to fuck someone to work. Ever. In fact I’d go as far as to say don’t fuck who you plan to work with. If a director, producer or actor implies the only way to be in touch is to let him get his leg over in the back of a taxi, run like hell. Your career isn’t more important than your dignity, safety and right to bodily autonomy.
It isn’t your fault. It wasn’t my friend’s fault when she was forced to strip for an audition, it wasn’t my fault when I lost a valuable contact for refusing to flirt with him. It is simply the system being shit, and men having a weirdly extreme power over casting.
So yeah, big hugs and power to all my sisters out there.
But pause when a director says you have nice tits. This industry is too fucked up for you to be naïve.