Trust in the Entertainment Industry: Do’s and Don’t’s

3307566Trust is a tricky thing at the best of times. When given professionally, though, misplaced trust can have financial and career-based consequences. What makes it extra difficult to navigate is the fact that we operate in a field that is steeped in emotion and personal relationships, even depends on them. Combine that with the attending expectations that artists should perform “for the love of it” and professional relationships can become toxic quickly. Here are some ground rules I have to keep re-learning for who to trust and when.

 

Rule 1: DON’T Trust Anyone But Yourself

This sounds cynical and harsh, and I don’t really mean it. Except I kind of do. Keep coming back to you. You will form many professional bonds over the years and a good number of those people will earn it. But I firmly believe the most valuable tool you can cultivate is a steadfast trust in yourself and your instincts. That has to come first. It will guide and protect you, and let you know where and when you can thereafter award your trust. Remember that everyone is looking out for themselves in this business and you have to be your first and best advocate.

 

Rule 2: DO Trust Your Scene Partners. Acting the scene itself will require trust. A lot of it. Sometimes more than you would normally give your scene partner in real life. So when the actual artistry is involved, within the world of the script, absolutely trust your scene partner. Juliet has to trust Romeo. For that magic to happen, Denise has to trust Brad onstage, and both should have some sort of trust in the director, the rest of the cast, etc. So yes, within the room, within the craft, trust your fellow artists.

 

Rule 3: Except When…They make you feel unsafe. You do not have to give trust, professional or artistic, where it is not earned. True art does not come at the cost of any actor’s safety, welfare, or reasonable professional boundaries. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is selling something, and what’s more, they are bad at their job.

 

Rule 4: DON’T (Always) Trust Your Agent. This one has to be said specifically because of the nature of an agent’s job. Many actors feel their agents are always looking out for them, and many times this is true! If you have incredible representation you would trust with your life, great! Name your firstborn after them. Just don’t forget that they have other clients, they have their own interests, and they are handling a lot of your income. Be savvy, be aware, stay safe.

 

Rule 5. DON’T Ever Trust Your Employer (Blindly). Trust has no place in business. Sorry, but it just doesn’t. If someone is paying you or is in charge of doing so, trust cannot come first, no matter how much you idolize them or how long they have been your friend. That is a doorway to abuse, and you will lose money, at least. Be a nuisance. Especially if you are freelancing or without an agent/manager and triple-especially when doing non-union work. Do the uncomfortable thing and demand contracts that detail clearly what, when and how you are getting paid and exactly what is expected of you. Get it in writing and get it before you rehearse or film anything. Get a professional to look over contracts and advise you.

 

You must be ruthless when protecting yourself and your career. It would be nice if all the people who should look out for you did. Many times, they will. But your job is to make sure that on the day they don’t, you are already taken care of. So keep your artist’s heart open and loving, and keep one eye open always.

 

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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at www.rachelfrawley.com

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