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Soapbox: Don’t leave actors hanging, casting directors – sometimes a ‘no’ is appreciated

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At the end of 2017, I was pencilled in for an acting job. The casting agents wanted me to keep three days available the following week in case I was indeed chosen – and I did.

I hoped to get the job, but even if I didn’t, I thought – at the very least – I would be treated with enough respect to be told that I wasn’t needed. With the pencil removed I could get on with my life.

As the Friday evening arrived, neither had happened. I’d not taken on much-needed work for the three days they’d pencilled me and had organised back-up childcare.

I looked up at the big, white moon through the window and thought: ‘Enough.’ I contacted the chief executive of the company I had been pencilled to do the advert for and told him how I had been treated.

On Monday, my agent called asking what had happened. She had received an angry call from the casting director shouting down the phone at her, furious that I’d been in touch with the company’s chief executive.

My agent listened as he ranted, vowing never to call me in for a casting again. I told her I was sorry but if that was how he treated actors I didn’t want to go to his casting sessions anyway.

She was supportive, agreeing it was an awful way to treat people. Even the chief executive responded, emailing me with an apology.

This lack of consideration or respect for another person in what seems to be an unregulated profession feels like an abuse of power

I told him about the casting director’s threats and bullying behaviour to my agent. But when he asked if I wanted to take things further I declined. It had all been too stressful and I didn’t want to sabotage my agent along with myself.

A few months on, and I am again enraged. The pencil was held on me for two days and never removed as the shoot dates came and went. All the while, my hands were tied. As if actors don’t feel disempowered enough.

This lack of consideration or respect for another person in what seems to be an unregulated profession feels like an abuse of power.

I won’t put my name to this article. For now, I am still going to castings. But treatment such as this, I have no doubt, may well cause me to leave the industry.

I love acting, I love entertaining and I love telling stories but I don’t want to allow my love for it to continue to be taken advantage of.

Remember that we are people with lives. Some of us have kids and some have jobs, and we also want to look after our own mental health.

To any casting directors who behave this way: please buy a rubber as well as your pencil, and just let us know whether you want us or not.

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