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The Craft

Is Nepotism Always Black and White?

Is Nepotism Always Black and White?

Last week we covered networking, which invariably raises the sticky issue of giving job preference to friends and connections. A great deal of “who you know” is at play in the entertainment industry, but is that such a bad thing?

Would it be fairer to do a broad and open search for every opportunity that might arise, to give everyone an equal and unbiased shot? Sure. Is that methodology always practical? Is it even preferable when you can pull a perfectly qualified, even exciting option from within your group of friends and acquaintances? I’d argue not. Fairer, yes. Better, no.

Nepotism, as defined by American Heritage, means “favoritism shown or patronage granted to relatives, as in business.” While it’s an ugly word, its distasteful aspect comes from the implication that those receiving favors are undeserving, unqualified. In an artistic field with so much competition and loads of skillful craftspeople willing to work, the situation becomes less black and white. Apart from the simple impossibility of seeing every actor interested in auditioning for every role, friends and professional connections with good reputations have the advantage of having already proved themselves. They’re safer bets in a field with its share of narcissists and flakes.

If you have seven great actors to choose from, all equally talented and experienced, wouldn’t you choose the one you know to be trustworthy and hard-working? Would you really gamble on someone new, just to be “fair”?

Jackie Apodaca is an associate professor and the head of performance at Southern Oregon University.

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