Personality Conflicts

It is always fascinating to me when a frustrated actor says, “That casting director HATES me! No matter what I do, she won’t give me a break!” Isn’t the very fact that the actor has been in that casting director’s office evidence to the contrary? If a CD truly disliked an actor, would that actor repeatedly be invited into the room to audition?

Emotions run high in a profession such as acting. There is a requirement that actors keep their emotions close to the surface and accessible for any type of role and the demands of various characters. Also, there is significant rejection going on almost daily. That certainly takes its toll. Still, there has to be a way for actors to accurately assess what they’re experiencing, as they interact with others in the business.

One of the most important things I can tell you about your interactions with casting directors, agents, managers, producers, directors, writers, and even other actors when on set or in auditions is this: IT IS NEVER ABOUT YOU. I know that you feel as if it is all about you (and by “it,” I mean “anything” and “everything”) and that’s attributed to the fact that you act for a living more than anything else. Truthfully, though, it (anything, everything) has so little to do with you at any given time that you would be embarrassed to realize how much energy you’re investing in a non-issue.

Now, let’s assume that there is, in fact, a personality conflict brewing between you and a casting director, an agent, a manager. What do you do then? Nothing. You behave as the professional you are. You enter into any situation knowing that you have been invited there as an actor to do your job: act. Whether you get along with everyone is irrelevant. And, it’s impractical to assume you will get along with everyone! Heck, you might not get along with everyone in the grocery store, if you interacted with them all. Why expect that you should always get along with everyone you encounter in the industry? Sometimes, people don’t click. And rarely is that a personal thing. No one is out to get you. No one is looking to sabotage your acting career. The fact that you get invited into the room is proof of that.

Here’s a great example that truly has nothing to do with a personality conflict, but instead an issue of professionalism.

There are two actors in my files (files containing the headshots of tens of thousands of actors) who — if the choice is 100% mine — will never be invited into a casting session by me. One of the actors has twice no-showed audition appointments with me, after having confirmed both times. No show, no call, nothing. Yet the actor continues to submit on each new film I cast. I no longer call this actor for an audition. Burned the first time; I’ll give the actor a second chance. Burned again; forget a third! The other actor has twice been BOOKED with me and blown off the project. The first time, the excuse was, “Hey, it’s only SAG scale work. No big deal.” I thought, after that, I’d NEVER cast this actor again, despite the fact that it’s a pretty high-profile, regularly-working actor. However, the PERFECT match came along and I made an offer. Confirmed. Double-confirmed. And, you guessed it, another blow off. This time, an after-the-fact “I’m sorry,” but with no excuse. That’s two actors among many, many thousands of actors I have access to who will never be asked into my world again.

Unless a director or producer specifically requests them. See, here’s where the “It’s never personal” thing comes into play. Even though I have a personal policy regarding these two actors now, if I am hired to cast a film and a director tells me he specifically wants me to get one of these two actors for the project, I can’t simply say, “Oh, no. I won’t cast that actor. You should hire another casting director.” Well, I guess I could say that, but I enjoy my career, so I probably would swallow my pride, contact the actor’s agent, and sweep the past under the rug. Of course, I would also advise the director or producer who hired me about the situation I’ve twice encountered with either of these actors, so the filmmaker is aware of what he’s potentially getting into with these people, but even my personal policy won’t, ultimately, keep an actor out of the room.

And even though I’m referring to this as a “personal policy” issue, it’s not personal. It’s business. I’m hired to do a job and that job includes watching actors come in to show me how they would do their job, if cast. Sometimes, that may mean watching actors I would prefer not to encounter. You may run into that issue as well.

For example: What if you’re having a personality conflict on set? You were brought together for a common goal: this project. Yet, perhaps you simply don’t get along with someone. This happens in non-show-business all the time, yet somehow people find a way to work together and get the job done. You must find a way to do that as an actor too. Focusing on the job is the best way to start. Make your experience all about the work. That is what pros do.

What if the personality conflict isn’t with just another actor? Instead, you have an intimate love scene with someone you detest and you believe that actor is going out of the way to make your life miserable? Again, I implore you to disengage and understand that it’s NOT ABOUT YOU. Either this person is trying to throw you off or it’s all in your mind. Either way, choosing to focus on the work is the best solution. If your fellow actor is trying to sabotage you, everyone on that set will see it. And if it is all in your mind, why on Earth would you want to make your perception a public event? Yes, craft is personal. Doing your job shouldn’t be.

Remember, how people treat you says more about THEM than YOU. How you choose to respond is what says anything about you. Prove that it’s not personal by making each moment all about the work. You’ll come off looking like the professional that you are. And THAT is ALL about you!

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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