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3 Things Actors Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Ask and Why You Need to Self-Advocate

The way the entertainment industry works often leaves actors feeling disposable.

A natural consequence (and reality) of the acting industry is gig scarcity. This often leaves actors afraid to ask questions or self-advocate in fear of being labeled difficult.

For years, actors have been trained to agree first and ask questions later, if ever. This can lead to uncomfortable, unsafe or even abusive situations.

Here are three things actors are afraid to question that should be part of the initial dialogue.

1. What are the compensation details?

Details of compensation aren’t always clear for independent projects, and newer actors don’t always inquire.
Remember, acting is still a job. You deserve to know how much is being offered for your services.

It is not impolite or difficult to ask when information is not made readily available. You should know how much you’re getting paid, in what way, on what timeline and how any residuals may be handled.

If you have a talent agent, ask them. They may be able to negotiate for you. If you’re self-submitting, research to find the appropriate party and reach out in a professional manner.

It is not rude to ask about compensation, and no one worth working with will withhold that information.

2. What are the role requirements?

Just like any other job, you need to know what you’re getting into, and that means specifics. Especially in smaller or independent projects, this may not always be clear up front.

If travel is required, are they paying for lodging?

Is there a gas stipend?

Is the rate per diem?

Is there nudity? If so, what exactly will be shown?

Will there be a closed set?

Will there be an intimacy choreographer?

These are questions you and your agent should not be afraid to ask and get in writing.

You should be aware of every detail of your actor’s contract before signing on.

3. How will I be given credit for my work?

Credit, and how it will be given, is often a sticking point in the negotiation process.

While many actors might give this entirely over to their talent agents and managers to handle, it’s good to keep yourself educated and informed.

Ask questions at each step in the process, familiarize yourself with contract negotiations and make sure your professional needs are being met.

Requesting clarity does not make you difficult.

Advocating for your professional and personal needs does not make you a bad actor.

You may not always get what you want, but it’s up to you to determine whether or not the offer is worth your time and talent.

Respectfully declining a project that does not protect you as an employee does not mean you will never work again. Take time to decide your professional boundaries, ask for communication where needed and make sure the first person placing value on your career is you.

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