[sic] "hello, i saw your profile on backstage and i will like to know if you are available for a Job from my company because after various screening your profile was chosen .So if you are interested in working with us get back as soon as possible so i can tell you more about the shooting Details Thanks"
via the Internet
Hello back to you! I am afraid your offer is not only creepy but also highly suspicious. I can only assume you are a semi-illiterate, punctuation-challenged scam artist. Come to think of it, you are probably not even a person named James, but a conglomeration of various parasites out to suck the monetary blood from young, unsuspecting performers with big dreams but little professional savvy. I wouldn't work with you if you and your associates held the keys to the last gig on earth.
Note to readers: I got the email above, titled "modeling job offer," at firstname.lastname@example.org account Michael Kostroff and I share for this column. Some of you may have received the same query, as it lists association with Back Stage as the jumping-off point for connection. If so, I suggest you toss it in your spam folder immediately. Don't bother writing back, as I did, in case that might confirm your email address for future inquiries.
This probably goes without saying, but you should always throw propositions such as this one out. Never respond. If you want to help your fellow actors, you can copy and post spam like this on your favorite message board with a warning to others who just might be tempted to let their desire to be discovered outweigh their rational, sensible understanding that such solicitations are nothing but predatory come-ons.
There are thousands of candidates for each acting job that pays and often hundreds for those that don't. Producers can put out audition notices or breakdowns through any number of services; it's easier than it's ever been, takes just minutes, and is often free. Those with legitimate gigs don't have to troll Internet profiles—or malls—screening potential talent. They don't need to hold talent searches or ask the general public to show up to galas or seminars at ballrooms around the nation to pay to be seen. Unless they're looking for something truly unusual, they'll go through the regular channels time and again.
It's a nice fantasy to believe your talent and hard work will be noticed and you'll catch a break somehow, somewhere. And you will. The more you work and study and audition and delve into the business you want to make your own, the more real "breaks" you'll generate.
Recently, I began a personal relationship with a legitimate casting director. We have gone out a few times, and I have realized that I am not as interested in her as I had hoped.
How do I break this off without breaking off my chances of being called in to her casting house? We have not had a long history together, but I am afraid it has been long enough to cause some bitter feelings, and she may possibly take me off her list of actors for projects. I know I should never mix business with pleasure, but in this biz, that's easier said than done. Do I have to just learn my lesson here the hard way? Or is there an easier way to break it off and save face, literally?
—Looking for Love and a Job
via the Internet
If you've really only "gone out a few times," there's not too much danger that this CD's affections for you will outweigh her professionalism—at least for long. Sure, she may want to toss your photo in the circular file the next two or three times it lands on her desk, but she's likely to forgive and forget sooner than later. That's if, as you say, it was just a few dates.
If, instead, your relationship went deeper, or to more, um, intimate places, you may be in a bit of a bind. Dating up or down the business ladder, in ours or any industry, is likely to bring hurt feelings and frustrations when things don't go as planned. I'd like to say everything will be fine: that if you end your romantic relationship in a respectful, honest fashion, then you'll both be able to breeze past this incident with reputation and courtesy intact. Unfortunately, I don't believe that's the most likely outcome. She may feel used or misled. She very well may decide to skip bringing you in on jobs. CDs are relied upon not only to present producers and directors with great actors but also to bring their knowledge of the individual's personality and professional record to bear. If she feels you were duplicitous or exploitative, she'll be hard-pressed to recommend you to clients.
Still, the forthright breakup is all you can do. Be honest, respectful, and as kind as possible in explaining your desire to change the status quo, whether that means dating other people, being "just friends," or going your separate ways. Eventually, this—like all romantic hurts—will fade into the past. If the relationship grew out of a friendship—or built one along the way—it may eventually bring you professional, as well as personal, perks. When I lived in L.A., my ex-boyfriend, a successful commercial casting director, never failed to bring me in on everything he cast. Then again, we had broken up a decade before he became a CD. Time helps.
Before I let you go, I want to encourage you to ask yourself the tough questions you knew I'd ask when you wrote in. Why did you romance this woman in the first place? Did you have a bit of hope your hookup would be a boost to your career? Is any part of your present lack of interest in her due to her lack of action on your career's behalf? I'm not accusing you of such manipulation, but if you have a sense that such hopes were part of your original interest in this woman, you have some serious amends to make. While CDs, producers, and others with keys to the casting kingdom are responsible for their own hearts, it's just not okay to use love to get ahead—in anything.
Then again, what do I know? "All's fair in love and war" is a much more popular saying than "Don't date people who have access to things you want just so you can use them to get those things."