Actors are lucky. They get to do fun things for a living. They get to wear costumes, travel, film in exotic locations, meet famous people, make pots of money, and have an exciting life. And part of the job is the way they are perceived by the public. If they are fortunate enough to be in a TV show or film then they will automatically find themselves in the public eye. And that makes them public property.
So it’s only natural that people are interested in what they do when ‘resting’. Their life becomes as much a part of their job as their acting career. Actors should just stop moaning, be grateful for their brilliant lives, and put up with their lack of privacy, dear.
Of course, the above is totally idiotic. But sadly it’s how some people view actors. I’ve produced shows involving many well-known performers and, over that time, seen how the media uses them as commodities. Their lives become part of the public spectrum, and tabloid newspapers in particular feel they have unlimited access to their personal lives. And this is where it gets unhealthy. An actor acts for a living. Just like I produce for a living. And a banker banks for a living. It’s a job.
Being self-employed, many actors have to undertake other jobs when not performing. What do people expect? They have bills to pay and kids to feed. And they should be admired for this, not vilified. I have seen dear actor friends doing all sorts of work – front of house, bar work, waitering, promotions, telesales – and that’s normal. Actors should never be ashamed of it.
There is an unacceptable trend in the UK now to enjoy other people’s struggles. And it’s wrong. Recently, as we are all aware, the lovely actress Katie Jarvis was pasted on the front pages of national newspapers for working at B&M. When did that become a news story? And the year before, Geoffrey Owens, who used to be in The Cosby Show, was papped working in a supermarket. Who cares? Good for them – they’re earning money (probably more than Equity minimum, dear). They’re getting out the house and making a living. It is far healthier than just sitting at home waiting for another acting job. There is no shame – it is just the reality of being self-employed, dear.
It is about time the tabloid press realised the consequences of their actions. These insensitive, job-shaming articles belittle people and cause a whole host of mental health issues. A dear friend many years ago was working as a cocktail waiter in a well-known London restaurant. When a newspaper picked up on the story, leading with the headline ‘Star Forced to Serve Drinks’, he was so embarrassed he quit. Isn’t that appalling? It needs to stop.
So to you performers out there – work! Be an elf at Christmas, play Santa, sell toys in Hamleys, serve drinks in a bar (George Clooney sold insurance in between acting work). And never be ashamed. For every one person putting you down, there are a million others applauding you.
This week’s question was supplied anonymously via direct message on Twitter. Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer