Don’t Work with Creeps

Hi Bonnie,

First, let me just say how I adore reading your columns. You are so helpful and bubbly and so generous with your time to help out in sharing your knowledge. I just want to add another thank you to the pile of appreciation we all have for you!

I recently found myself in a situation which I have never experienced before. I had a call from a director in response to a casting I had self-submitted to. The interview started off innocently enough, with questions about my general acting career and goals. It then started to get weird and suspicious with more and more personal and veering on inappropriate questions about my life, my living scenario, significant others, etcetera. There was no discussion about my previous acting work or skills.

When I questioned him, he assured me it was just part of a questionnaire that he was required to conduct with all prospective actors and the more vague my responses were — in order to protect my personal details — the more condescending and patronizing he became. In my fluster, I was locked in for a meeting next week with him. To say the call was creepy is a major understatement.

I know I’m not the first person to encounter this situation, but what is the most appropriate way to decline this meeting? All I have is a phone number. I would like to maintain my professionalism, despite the situation.

Love from Australia!
Amy Elizabeth

Hi Amy. Thanks for writing, and for the great feedback! First off, good for you, reaching out before the meeting. Not to be overly dramatic, but showing up to meetings with creeps who use casting scenarios as a chance to gather intimate details about someone who is clearly uncomfortable providing them (and when those details have nothing to do with the casting process, no matter what they try to tell you or sell you) is how actors end up DEAD.

Okay, so I was totally being overly dramatic. But with good reason. That has happened. So has less-drastic but totally gross stuff like physical attacks, threats, or sexual power plays of intimidation happened due to actors’ desire to be cast, to “stay professional,” and to please the person in a position of power.

Without question, if your Spidey Sense is tingling about this meeting, cancel it. You have the guy’s phone number; use it. Let him know you’re no longer interested in or available for the project. Thank him very much for his interest in your ACTING and add all of the details of your various encounters with him thus far into Your Show Bible. Your safety is not worth sacrificing for a role, no matter what!

Even if you’re wrong and he’s a fine person and this was just some weird first start on the phone, why risk it? Please don’t take the risk. Your intuition is a powerful force and you sometimes must trust it. This doesn’t “sound” like a situation in which you’re trying to talk yourself out of a great opportunity or trying to block your own success (like Steven Pressfield talks about). Inappropriate behavior happens all the time in this business, and it stems from actors coming from a place of powerlessness (something I spend my life trying to help y’all STOP doing) and some seriously whacked-out power-hungry people gravitating toward positions in which they can abuse creatives who are just looking to book their next role.

Good for you, acknowledging that something feels OFF about this whole thing. If it feels off NOW, it’s not going to GET BETTER. That’s the big thing for you to understand and honor, here. People are on their best behavior when they’re trying to work together. If this guy is already creeping you out and you’ve not even met, imagine how inappropriate things can get when you’re on set together!

Saying, “Thank you so much for your interest; I’m no longer available,” is fine. If he offers you other dates and times to audition, let him know it’s not an issue of schedule, so there’s no need to try and make it work. Again, thank him and be prepared to hear him get more condescending and patronizing, since you’ve already experienced that behavior from him. Do NOT take that personally or give it much real estate in your brain.

It’s only if this is the only shot you’ll ever have at the career of your dreams that you should give it so much power. Because you’re going to be at this for decades, still, and because there are many more gigs on the radar for you, this is just no big deal. Don’t let it become one, just because he’s pushing all the right buttons in his weird power play. 🙂

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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