While there’s never a reason to play it safe in your acting, it is essential to play it safe during the casting process.
Not everyone gets the luxury of working on a Hollywood film set for his or her first job, which also means you may not always be attending castings at credible studios or in central Soho casting suites in the beginning. Sometimes you’ll be going to places off the grid. And this is when being diligent with personal safety is vital. In my early days in London, I lived with two flatmates who knew I was an actor just starting out. I always had a script in hand, learning lines, going to audition after audition in places of varying levels of, shall we say, credibility. So we developed a house rule: if I left a piece of paper on the kitchen benchtop, they knew that I was at an audition. It was my way of saying, “If I don’t come home tonight, call me or find me!”
Well, times have changed and technology is much more advanced now, meaning you can be more clever in protecting yourself both in the casting process and afterward. The most important thing to ask yourself is, “Will I be safe attending this casting at this location at this time of day?” If you’re ever unsure, here are a few key ways to ensure you always play it safe:
1. Tell someone where you are.
If the casting won’t be taking place at a recognizable studio or casting location (like a studio lot or office, university campus, casting director’s office, etc.), always tell someone where you’ll be and what time your audition is. The reality is not all filmmakers can afford to pay for a studio or get access to a free space and they may have to take auditions from other premises. This is OK, but only if you have someone who knows where you are or you have someone with you or you know there’ll be more than one person at the audition or you have someone who can track your whereabouts. Otherwise, stay away.
2. Bring a friend.
It’s OK to ask a friend to escort you and have them wait outside. It’s also OK to check with the filmmaker in advance to make sure you can bring a buddy to wait for you while you audition. If they aren’t comfortable with you feeling safe, do you really want to work with them? I would seriously ask myself what their film set will be like if they don’t put audition safety first!
3. Make technology your best audition friend.
Use those snazzy location services on your device for good. The wonders of modern technology mean you can let your partner, flatmate, or buddy track your whereabouts if you’re going to an audition where you have a signal. If you’re heading to a warehouse on the outskirts of town or a location you’ve never been before, you may feel a lot safer knowing someone has your virtual back.
Simply turn your location services on, share your location via WhatsApp or another location-based app, and you’re good to go in.
4. Know that nudity and kissing aren’t necessary for an audition.
You never have to take your clothes off, kiss, or touch another actor unless you have agreed in advance and you know exactly what it will entail. I’d even go so far as to say you still never need to get naked in a casting. If you’re in a casting and are suddenly asked to kiss or touch your co-star, stop and politely ask if it’s necessary. If you still don’t want to, you can leave.
Ask yourself why they’re asking you this now. If you’re down to the last two or three actors later in the casting process and they want to do a camera or chemistry test, that’s a different matter. But at the first audition? You have the right to say no.
Again, if they object, do you really want to work with them? How do you know they won’t go even further and request ridiculous things when you’re actually on set and it’s costing everyone time and money and you feel even more pressured to do something you aren’t comfortable with.
5. Remember the union is on your side.
Your union should always have your back. If you ever attend an audition and don’t feel quite right about the circumstances, call them immediately. I have done this in the past and they’ve been supportive, understanding, and helpful.
6. Never stay silent.
If you ever feel your safety is compromised (sexually or otherwise), tell someone—never keep quiet about it. Tell a friend, your agent, union rep, a trusted industry person, or the police. You deserve to feel safe 100 percent of the time.
By following these simple rules, we can make sure we have lots of fun taking risks during the casting process without ever being at risk ourselves.
*This post was originally published on Oct. 31, 2018. It has since been updated.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.