I’ve had this topic in the back of my mind for some time now. I have held off to this point, because I didn’t think it pertained to many actors. It would be a column for few… so I avoided it. As time has gone on I’ve realized I may have been mistaken. I’ve been surprised over the last few years at the number of times talent have been required to pass a background check before being hired on a commercial. Or more often (and sometimes more damaging) survive an Internet search for material or experiences attached to a talent a certain brand may not want representing their company. Are you catching my drift?
Commercial actors should never take a job/engage in conduct that would keep them from being hired in the future.
Let’s tackle the biggie right off the bat. Porn. I believe when you are pursuing a career in acting, specifically (because this is my area of expertise) hoping to work in commercials, you may want to think twice about doing any kind of porn. That includes cable TV “soft” stuff. I’ve seen more than one actor lose the job because they had made that choice in the past or were currently discovered to be working in the porn industry. One time they used their actual name; another time they used a different name, blah, blah, blah. Maybe you could get away with it, maybe not. But I’ve been a witness to actors being “caught” and being passed up for that reason, and that reason alone.
Now that we’ve got past the obvious and uncomfortable one, being on a reality TV show can be another reason an actor may be passed up. I understand this is tricky. There are examples of shows that launched an actor’s career. It was their big break! Great! That may be the case with you, too. Just know there is a possibility it could work against you as well. If you hope to work for Disney, you may want to avoid some of the more questionable shows. I’m not going to name names. Use discretion and think things through. Even if it’s your aim to be one of the “good guys” on the show, the powers that be may not do the research to realize this… or care, frankly. Your name associated with a reality TV show can mean (and has in my experience) a pass, for that reason, and that reason alone.
Here is another hard truth. Some of your past mistakes can hurt your career. Specifically I’m thinking of a DUI. Although I’m sure there are other things. Already have one? Forgive yourself and keep making better decisions. Do you have a bad habit of drinking and driving? There’s a million reasons why that is a terrible idea. If the potential consequence of damaging your acting career is what puts you over the top to decide to grab a cab next time, then my job is done here. I’ve experienced an actor being passed up for a role due to the fact they had a DUI, for that reason, and that reason alone.
And finally, the Internet is forever. You have heard this phrase, surely. It’s true. In general, brands want sparkly and clean people to represent their products. Use care in deciding what photos to post, what topics to cover in your blog… use care and consideration in what you post on the Internet. It’s becoming routine to search talent before hiring them for a commercial. Don’t give the powers that be a reason to go with someone else.
If nothing else, please realize the choices you make outside the small commercial industry world, can become an unwanted factor in your commercial acting career. Make positive, smart, and informed choices and you will have no regrets.