Saturday, 12 May 2012

Casting The Net

Casting call: The type of girls we're looking for are sexy, attractive with a good figure, styled with a touch of class. Of course you need to be highly talkative, motivated and keen to get into character with lots of flirting and banter.

Considering what I often tweet about, I’ve actually kept pretty quiet on the subject of casting websites. Most days, someone will ask where the frankly ridiculous castings I post up on Twitter are from and I’m always sorry to tell them that they come from the websites that all us actors use. I wish they came from obscure locations but no, they come from websites that many of us pay to use. Yep, non-actors, we pay for the privilege of these often ludicrous, sexist, racist, poorly written adverts.
I subscribe to two different casting websites. One of which is pretty much obligatory and another I choose to pay for. The second I keep going because I work on the basis that I would only need one paid job from it a year for it to pay for itself and I’m fine with that. Plus, it keeps my Twitter feed alive and provides me with at least one ego-boosting retweet a day. I pay just under £400 a year for these castings. £400 to receive daily insults in my inbox. £400 to make me constantly question why I do this infuriating job. But also £400 to laugh at the sheer absurdity of other people and keep myself thoroughly entertained.

There have been castings, like yesterday’s that asked for the actor to just have experience whereas the actress had to be beautiful, that have driven me insane. And then there are the castings that ask dancing hamsters that have made me laugh. There have been baffling castings, creepy castings and ones that are probably illegal. But none have made me as angry as the one I saw for an adult tv phone-in channel. That one truly got my blood boiling. Because I don't know how it got past them. I always presumed that there was a screening process in place for castings that were put up on websites, or at least I hoped so. I realise that this industry is widely unregulated but you would hope that in the few places where checks can take place that they actually do. But apparently not. And I hope that's the case otherwise it means that these websites just don't care...oh...

I realise that TV phone in channels need to hire people. Despite being one of the blunter knives in the cutlery draw, I’d still worked out that they didn’t just pluck these girls off the street. However, I didn’t realise they’d go to well-established casting websites and that these sites, that require their members to pay if they want to see the paid jobs, would actually accept them. Well done to the TV channel for aiming so high as to look for attractive actors but shame on you casting website for demeaning our profession. Shame on you for allowing this job to be classed as an acting role. Shame on you for thinking that this is what we spent three years at drama school for. Shame on you for possibly encouraging younger actresses who are desperate for money and work into these types of jobs. 

Honestly, if I painted the whole of north London red and covered it in deadly sharp spikes, I still don’t think you’d realise just how angry this advert has made me. It makes a mockery of our already rather ridiculous profession and it means that those people who laugh or sneer at you when you tell them you’re an actor now have a right to do so. Now I know I make fun of this job but I do hold it in high regard. I’m proud of the job I do and if I can spend the rest of my life earning a decent living from it and having a damn good time then I will be exceedingly happy. I consider myself very lucky to be able to do a job that I love but that joy will only continue if companies such as this particular one, one that supposedly supports the industry and was set up as both a resource for work and a place for actors to receive guidance, actually help keep it that way.

Either that or we all just sell out, hit the gym, invest in some skimpy underwear and finally earn ourselves a soulless, depressing and unfulfilling living...


  1. Well-written piece and I can understand your disappointment and anger. Have you taken this up with the website in question?

    The same sort of thing (inappropriate and non-paying jobs) used to happen with premium crewing websites but after some 'robust' debate it's largely stopped.

    Advertising porn recruitment on an actors' website is utterly ridiculous - why stop with the flirty phone-in shows if that's the proprietor's attitude?

    Good luck with getting the ad removed and giving the website a wakeup call.

  2. Look at The Stage - does anyone take that seriously for jobs any more? Last time I looked, it was all for Lap Dancers!

    1. I was thinking all through that post about the "Jobs" section in The Stage which is lap dancer-heavy. I was VERY unimpressed when I started buying The Stage and saw those adverts, having been told that it was a respected publication in the entertainment industry. Pfffft.