Actors often get a raw deal from the outside world branding them as egotistical. I hope that this article may enlighten and give food for thought, to those of you not involved in show business. To my peers, it may help you explain your 'look at me' behaviour.
Don't get me wrong, yes we have an ego, I don't really think you can be in this industry without one, but there are two varieties of ego lookatmeus.
The inner ego: This is the very personal one. The one that makes the actor smile inside when an audience applauds or they get a good review or receive genuine accolades from their peers. It's also that satisfaction when the actor knows they 'nailed' a performance.
The outer ego: The public one or should I say the perceived public one. The one that seems to do nothing but talk about themselves, viewed as self absorbed and brands the actor 'up themselves'. This is the ego I want to dispel, right here, right now.
It's only business
Anyone in business, be they; the owner or employee, that makes a living by selling a product or service, talks about and promotes their product/service during the course of their working day. This is how they make money, this is how they pay the rent.
I have yet to come across anyone who brands a butcher, baker or candlestick maker an egotist because they talk about their wares. Never heard of a shop assistant being called egotistical because they outline the benefits of an electrical appliance. Why? Because they are not the product or service.
Now lets look at it from an actor's perspective. When I talk to my students about this side of the business, I bring it down to it's simple form; an actor is a cake of soap. In other words, they [the actor] are the product.
So, just like any other salesperson in any other business making a sale of a product/service, the process is the same except in this sale the actor being the product. They talk about how great they are, the benefits of using them, their past track record, their advantages and any other attribute to make the sale (get the part). That is how they make a living. This is how THEY pay the rent.
With this in mind it is easy to see how the outside world brands this as 'bignoting', 'swellheaded' ... egotistical.
I found this comment on a Facebook post in reply to a Hugh Jackmans' status update. I think this makes my point.
Look at me, I'm brill
Actors are also perceived to be the world champions when it comes to 'name dropping'
So let's go back to our cake of soap. If a product or service is promoted as the preferred brand by a celebrity, do people accuse the manufacturer, provider, sales assistant of name dropping? When you talk to your friends about work colleagues, are you accused of name dropping?
This is the same as actors talking about who they have worked along side or who has contracted their services. The obvious big difference is that your work colleagues may not be known to thousands or tens of thousands or millions of people. To the actor, these are just their everyday work colleagues and some just happen to be famous.
The equivalent in the everyday life of people not in 'the biz' would be; the writing of your resume. To gain employment your prospective employer wants to know all about you, your skills, experience and personal thoughts to assess if your the right person for the job. You fill the resume with details of how great your are, how skilled you are, how experienced you are and all the companies and people of note you have worked for and along side.
The difference here is, that when you get the job the focus changes to the business and no longer on you. For the actor the focus is always on them.
Don't believe your own PR
Publicity keeps the actor in the minds of their audience and most importantly; Directors and Producers. This is the equivalent to our cake of soap being advertised or talked about through newspapers, glossy magazines and online.
Generally this publicity is generated by PR (Public Relations) gurus or publicists, either contracted by production companies, the actors agent/manager or the actor themselves.
It's all about keeping our cake of soap in the public eye. The generated story must have a 'hook', something interesting, something appealing, something that is unknown. This where the actor [product] can be seen in whole new light, similar to a cake of soap having a new formula. BUT, just as in advertising the product claims can be over exaggerated.
|Barbara Llewellynn, Leonard Teale, Anne Lambert, Megan Williams|
As the shock died down and the ratings levelled out the publicity mongers needed to find a new hook to keep the show in the press, so they turned to the private lives of the actors.
I remember being constantly telephoned by the television station's publicity department and my own agent for stories outside our lives on set.
As the program was a five nights a week, most of our long waking hours were in rehearsal or in the studio, so not that much time for an outside life. Our snippets of social life were given the 'spin' treatment by the publicity machine to make them newsworthy.
A prime example that will always be burned into my memory is 'Young stars sex romps and orgies on island hideaway' Eye catching headline you must admit, but the facts spun more than a clothes dryer on steroids.
This story emerged from two of the young cast members liveing in a rental property on Scotland Island in Pittwater, Sydney. Occasionally, a few of us would trek over there on the weekend for a BBQ.. end of story. Although they were fantastic lunches that continued through to night, full of laughs and merriment, I don't recall a single romp and I'm sure I would remember an orgy!
The age old saying "there's no bad publicity" is a double-edged sword in this profession. I have seen careers blossom due to off screen/stage antics (real or not) and also seen them flushed down the toilet by it as well. No more so than this day and age we live in of social (access all areas) media.
So next time you see or read about an actor spruking about how good they are or shaking your head in disbelief on their latest fall from grace or adventure, give them some slack. For just like you, they are also trying to make a living.
Author: Greg Bepper © 2013
Greg Bepper's Thunderbolt Theatre & Film Productions