Konstantin Stanislavsky wrote, “In the language of an actor, to know is synonymous with to feel.”
Truth. But in a post-“Moneyball” world, acting is one of the few businesses in which subjectivity still reigns over objectivity. Casting directors, agents, filmmakers—all are regularly engaged in the qualitative analysis of actors’ work. Quantitative data enters the picture only in small bits, usually in the form of lies about height, weight, and age. For generations, the gatekeepers to stardom have operated from their guts, and most of them are perfectly happy to keep it that way.
In choosing the first-ever Backstage 30—two and a half dozen actors on the verge of becoming household names—we relied on guts, but not our own. We asked CDs, network and studio executives, and other industry insiders to recommend actors they felt were destined for great things. Then we pinched our noses and brought math and science—as much the natural enemies of writer types as they are of actor types—into the mix. We looked at Twitter followers, Facebook likes, and Tumblr search results to see which 30 actors had the biggest social-media footprints. We factored in the number of industry recommendations each actor received; then—presto—we had our list.
In the future, to know will still be synonymous with to feel. But a little data-driven analysis never hurt anybody.