While casting at an open call I read the resume of an actor standing before me. My name as director was married to a past credit. Yes, I directed the production. Yes, it was at the theater listed. No, she didn’t play the lead role as her resume indicated. Nor was she cast as the understudy or in the ensemble. Possibly she was an usher? I don’t know. But if someone suggested to her she lie on her resume, where was that adviser instructing her how to skillfully handle that very uncomfortable and unfortunate moment of "gotcha"?
An actor wrote me that a past agent of hers instructed she lie on her resume creating false film credits. Allegedly the agent asserted to the actor that doing so would help the agent get her seen for TV and film projects. The actor inserted on her resume a friend’s basement-budget home movie. (The actor has since left ill-advising agent. Smart move.)
In the first years of my acting career—when ignorance, insecurity, and youth blinded me from making productive, honest choices—I foolishly created a resume falsehood regarding my education. I was embarrassed for not having a secondary arts education. But shame is no excuse for an untruth. When work continually kept coming my guilt and growing maturity forced the fib from my resume. I felt freed from my nagging conscious once I obliterated the deceit. And I never, ever, embellished again. Nor should you. Have more respect for yourself.
When any of us create falsehoods, the damage done is not in the moment of "gotcha." No, it’s your self-esteem that suffers a near-fatal blow. Lies like honesty cannot be permanently erased. Like the pictographs on cave walls etched millennia ago, a trace will remain somewhere or with someone. But it will most prominently be with your conscious.
Be better to yourself. Be honest. We all begin with a blank page. Best to keep the page clean than mar it with falsehoods.
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 Backstage 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.