Racy Photos Online Hurting My Acting Career?

A couple of years ago, I was just breaking into the business and I did a slasher film with a couple of topless scenes. Not exactly porn, but let’s just say not exactly Oscar material either. Now I’m all over the Internet on “nude celeb” websites, which come up by the hundreds on a Google search of my name. I feel that this may give the wrong impression of my seriousness about the profession. One of my goals is that the Google search will be “cleaned up” when I accumulate more film and theatre work. Is this likely to hinder my progress and, if so, can you suggest some ways that I can counter any wrong impressions that the Google search might create?

Bless your heart! I can imagine it is quite stressful to self-Google and see links to XXX sites when you’ve done nothing meriting such publicity. Let me respond to you in two parts: advice on improving your desired Google results and advice for those considering doing nudity early in their careers.

The best way to improve results in Google (and other search engines, of course) is to have a site of your own. Since these other sites are promoting many, many people’s screen captures and videos, your name is one of thousands in the sites’ search tags. Your site will be singularly-focused: promoting yourself the way in which you choose. The existence of your own site will help, as will a blog in your name, fansites that may crop up in your honor, etc. The more sites “out there” with the focus you want them to have, the more diluted the current search results will become. Of course, these more accurately-focused sites will never eradicate the existence of the adult image sites showing up in your current searches. Those pay-based sites make a lot of money and their owners spend some of that money to keep the sites at the top of Internet searches. That will always be hard to combat (especially the more name-recognition you get in your career pursuits).

Outside of any legal right you may have to control the way your image is exhibited (which is highly unlikely to apply in this case), you won’t be able to prevent such sites from exploiting what, in context, was a scene of partial nudity of key importance to the story in an earlier project. That brings me to the second part of this issue I’d like to address: choosing your projects.

If you could go back in time (I know, I know… you can’t. Bear with me), would you NOT do the project knowing that stills from it would end up on the Internet for all time? This is an important question to ask yourself when faced with the opportunity to play a role in which nudity is tasteful and important to the story. Consider that you are signing off on what may, down the line, turn out to appear exploitative and pornographic.

And what happens when you are truly well-known as an actor? What if you become famous? Can you imagine the price those photos will command at that point? And if you believe that changing your name when you’re doing the film in question will have any impact down the line, believe me, it won’t. Someone, somewhere can always find the trail between you now and the various projects in your past. Ask any well-known celeb who has attempted to sue a gossip rag to prevent the publisher from leaking early-in-the-career photos. This issue does not get easier for you, the more notoriety you get.

So, for those of you debating doing anything for the sake of your career now without consideration for the state of your career in the future, remember to set your limits before they become tested. That moment is not the one in which to make the tough decision.

Now, as for the answer to the “will this hurt my career” question you’re really asking, consider your response to the issue. That’s where the damage (if any) could be done. When you are confronted with the, “Hey! Didn’t I see your boobs?” question, your response will dictate whether you are considered a professional who made a particular choice at a point in the past or someone who is hiding from a choice you made and embarrassed in front of those who “find you out.” Truly, it is the pleasure folks gain from “exposing” you that makes issues like this seem a lot more important than they really are. You steer others’ perception of you through the way in which you conduct yourself day to day. A lifetime of serious work is not going to be undone by one screen capture online. Prep yourself with the response you want to provide, when confronted. As for what others may think (but never voice) and how that impacts whether you’re called in for work as an actor today, that’s Actor Mind Taffy. You can’t control the factors that go into whether you’re asked to audition and since the work you’ve done is “out there,” you simply have to let go of what others are going to do with that fact. Do your best work and own what you’ve done along the way, like any professional should do. That’s the only way to survive any choice you make.

PS: Remember, everyone, I’m still looking for your tips and questions regarding voiceover work. I’ve already seen some GREAT questions come in. Clearly, there are a lot of you out there who want to know what’s what in the world of voiceover. Thanks for writing! I’ll be addressing the whole voiceover issue in the coming weeks.

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 http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000201.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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